November 18, 2012

Sharing Memories (Week 47): Thinking of Grandma

Sharing Memories: Thinking of Grandma
Grandma Ruth age 14
Welcome to Week 47 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey for 2012.   I hope you'll join us and share your memoirs and childhood memories for your descendants.

If you are just joining us, please take a peek at over 150 earlier prompts by clicking on the Sharing Memories tab at the top of Olive Tree Genealogy blog. You can jump in at any time and you can skip topics that you don't like. There are no rules, it's all about getting your memories down on paper. The prompts are here as a guide to help if you are stuck for ideas.

My Grandmother Ruth has been on my mind a lot lately. I really miss her. She wasn't everyone's favourite person - for example she and my mom fought constantly! She was fussy and somewhat timid but she was lively and vivacious and dressed in beautiful red suits. She was afraid of windy days and storms and water. Grandma was rather dramatic (which I loved about her!) and had a nervous disposition. Her hair had a little wave in it and turned a lovely white in later years. And she never developed "old age" spots as many of us do. She had such beautiful English skin! 

Sharing Memories: Thinking of Grandma
Lily, Grandma, my mother 1918
Grandma outlived three husbands and men adored her. She had her choice of boyfriends between each husband, some of them well-off,  but she told me she always married for love. She was born in Ramsgate, Kent England in 1894 and came to Canada with her fiance Charles Fuller in 1913. They married in Toronto Ontario and then moved to Guelph where Grandpa Fuller (who I never knew) got work as a bookkeeper at the Guelph Lumber Company, later becoming manager.

My mother was one of Grandma's three daughters. We didn't see much of Grandma but I sure enjoyed her visits. She lived in our village when I was little, I remember visiting her and her second husband, Daddy Sam, as a youngster. But then she moved back to Guelph and we didn't visit much. I suspect it was because she and my mom didn't get along. But Grandma told me stories of her childhood, of her parents and siblings and I loved listening to them. I didn't care how many times I heard them.

She had a little twitch which I thought was funny but endearing. Her head would twitch slightly and she'd give a gentle sniff and a small involuntary shrug of one shoulder. I have no idea what caused that but she claimed it was because she had Rickets as a child. I'm pretty sure that's not why but that was her story. She was very sickly as a little girl and suffered from headaches and insomnia as an adult.

My mother  told me more than once that the reason she didn't get along with me was because I reminded her of her mother (Grandma Ruth) For I too was sickly as a child and as an adult. I've had poor health and physical problems my whole life. My mother had no patience with illness. As far as she was concerned it didn't exist, it was mind over matter. Illness annoyed her and she let you know, no matter how horrible you felt or how much pain you were in.

Sharing Memories: Thinking of Grandma
Grandma, Grandpa + 3 daughters 1923

 I loved being around Grandma and it's funny to me how different family members have said to me "oh, you're just like Grandma Ruth!" as if that is an insult when to me it's a compliment! Yes she could be annoying with her complaints (too hot, too cold, too windy....etc). Yes she was very fussy. But she had a loving heart and she was never mean or a bully or unkind. And she told great stories and had a wonderful twinkle in her eye and an engaging chuckle.

Grandma gave me many family "treasures" while I was growing up. She saw how interested I was in the stories behind each item - who owned the china toast rack, whose teacup was I drinking out of, and so on. So many of those treasures were passed on to me and I treasure them still. But the one that came full circle was her ruby ring. Grandma loved red. She always wore it and it suited her vivacious personality perfectly.

Her ruby ring was her prized possession and she always promised it to me. But when she died it was given to my cousin (Grandma had 3 granddaughters - my sister and I and one cousin) and I was very upset. My aunt (my cousin's mother) insisted that Grandma had always promised the ruby ring to her daughter and that was who it was going to. Grandma died over 25 years ago and I've never seen the ruby ring since. I've never asked if my cousin still has it or wears it. 

Sharing Memories: Thinking of Grandma
Grandma's Ruby Ring
Then my 88 year old auntie came for my annual Christmas Dinner last year and told me she had something for me. Pulling out a small soft cloth bag she opened it to show me the Ruby ring. I was astounded as her daughter is still alive, but Auntie gave the ring to me and whispered in my ear "Mother always wanted you to have this ring." And now Grandma's Ruby ring is on my finger every day. And I find myself thinking of Grandma Ruth and missing her terribly. But the ring makes me smile and remember all the wonderful times I enjoyed with my lovely vivacious grandmother.


Kristin said...

I wonder why she insisted the ring was meant for her daughter at the time of your grandmother's death. I'm glad you finally received the ring!!

Mariann Regan said...

What a lovely, lovely post! The happy ending is so satisfying -- the ring finally made its way to you, you who "took after" your Grandma Ruth, who understood you and knew you as a kind of soul mate. She sounds so kind and nice.

Unfortunately, your mother was one of those people who insist on "mind over matter" (my mother was the same). That's a "creed" which is easily used to bully people. Sounds like both you and Ruth endured a lot, but in the end you prevailed!

saveeverystep said...

Nothing like the memories of your grandma. Mine also gave me a family heirloom (a ring) which I still have and treasure. Sadly no daughters to pass it on to, only sons... I miss her still and she's been gone for over 20 years!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Granddaughters! Pass the ring on to one of them :-)

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Mariann - you always have such a great way of putting things. I look forward to your comments!

I'd never thought of my mother's insistence that there was NO SUCH THING as illness as part of her bullying. But it seems so crystal clear now that I've read your comment!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Kristin, I've wondered that too but think perhaps it was because Auntie always felt her kids were overlooked and the focus was on the other two sisters' children.

I'm just thrilled that she thought of giving the ring to me - I've never mentioned it to her in all these years so it must have been on her mind.