Saturday, November 6, 2010


I was fortunate to know both my grandmas, to live near them, and to drink in their existence and experience.  My maternal grandmother, Sadie Dugan, was a loving presence in my life until I was 26 years old. My paternal grandmother, Minnie Powell, lived until I was 41.  I was truly blessed by both women.

When I think of my maternal grandmother I think of kindness, her faith in God, and a constant profession of love for me. When  I think of my paternal grandmother I think of style, wizard of creating all things beautiful, and an elder for moral support.

I miss my grandmothers.

Today, I reminisce about my maternal grandmother Minnie M. Pitts-Powell from whom I get my creative genes, which comes in handy.

Here are some memorable quotes from her that have lingered in my mind:

"It won't matter in a hundred years."

"Englebert Humperdink can park his shoes under my bed anytime." (I nearly had a heart attack after hearing my grandmother's confession.)

"If they don't ask, we won't tell because it's none of their business." (She was a very private person.)

"That's nonsense." (This might have worked against me, since I am full of nonsense.)

My grandmother Minnie was three or four inches shorter than myself at probably 5'2" or 5"3". She had red curly hair and kept it red until her dementia no longer allowed her to remember how to take care of it.

She told me that she had always wanted to be a nurse, but her folks didn't think it was the proper thing for a young woman to do...see naked people.  She became a hairdresser instead.

My grandmother Minnie could take anything and make it beautiful. She could take second hand clothing and make me gorgeous dresses. They weren't typical dresses, but fancy dresses. She invented taking old or discarded furniture and making it new and useful again. She reupholstered furniture, knew how to use tools, and could have opened a restaurant...her cooking was that good.

Minnie Powell worked very hard. She helped her husband on their farm and then still had to cook, take care of the children, do laundry, and keep house the old fashion way. She was tough and really didn't like "nonsense".

She loved my grandfather very much and told me so regularly. She loved her four children. And she loved me, even though she didn't say it much, but was always available for anything I needed. She made my wedding dress, my bridesmaids' dresses, and a garter for my skinny little leg.

Grandma Minnie also came to my rescue once when I really thought I was in danger. My husband and I had just signed up for life insurance. Our son was almost a year old.  The insurance agent was definitely interested in me; I have radar for things like that. I thought he was creepy from the start. But, the hubby was there, we signed, and the man left. Even as he left, he invaded my sacred personal space. Sure I go overboard with personal space, but this man was caressing my arm when my husband wasn't looking.

My job at that time was a stay at home mom.  Around 9 a.m. the next morning, I received a telephone call from the insurance agent. He told me he had forgotten to have us sign some kind of authorization. I was only 22, but red flags were flying to get my attention. I told him, no problem my husband worked in the city and he would come over after he got off from work. The agent was insistent saying that he needed it to be signed immediately. I told him, I could get it signed for him at lunch then. I made the mistake of telling him we only had one working car at that moment.  I told him it made no sense for him to drive nearly 40 miles when my husband was in the same city. Then he told me he had to come my way anyway and would be there within the hour.

I was alarmed.

We all have instincts within, if we will listen and I knew something wasn't right about that man and his mission, and I had a toddler to think about as well. (Today, of course, I would tell him what he could do with the paper and where he might go with the paper, but I wasn't that bold yet.)

Immediately, I made a phone call to Grandma Minnie and told her what I was thinking and asked if she could she come over? Within fifteen minutes, she was at my house. When the insurance agent arrived and walked in, his eyes grew with surprise as when he saw I was not alone. As grandma put it, she could see right away he was shifty and wasn't expecting me to have company. I think she saved the day for me. When he left, he put his hand on my shoulder and told me with his face turned away from my grandmother,  how pretty I looked. (I was in men's overalls.)  My Irish temper finally took over and I shrugged his hand from my shoulder and opened the door for him to leave.

Grandma stayed a couple more hours. I'm sure she saved the day.

Her feisty and creative genes live in me and I appreciate it.

Significance of Family: Rural areas are often a fair distance from towns and cities. Many times, if the youth stay in the area, they have many generations at their disposal. Rural people rely on their family members not only for love, but for support in many areas.  Often, I've called my parents and my grandmothers for advice and direction.  I also had many aunts, uncles, and cousins growing up around me. They all enriched my life experience.

Stay tuned for memories of my Grandmother Sadie Dugan.


Kelly said...

What wonderful memories!! And good for you for getting her over there before the insurance man. I'd have loved to see the expression on his face when he realized he wasn't getting you alone!

I never knew either of my grandfathers, but was blessed to have both of my grandmothers alive during my formative years. One lived with us, the other about two hours away.

lakeviewer said...

I loved this story, the way women lived, how they supported each other, how men tried to squirm their way into innocent women's lives. You caught it all, beautifully, honoring your grandmothers too.

Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like your Grandmother was a wise, funny and wonderful lady. Enjoyed your tribute to her.

Thoughts in Progress

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Teresa .. anxious story of the time .. fortunately Grandma was nearby.

Just delighted to read of their love for you and the family & their respective husbands .. that's what we remember .. the good things - I didn't know mine that well .. in fact really at all .. so I appreciate your view and love for yours.

Enjoy the week - Hilary

Mary Aalgaard said...

I love how you point out that our intuition is real and that it doesn't lie to us. You were young, which he preyed upon, so needed some help in that situation. Good for you for asking for it, and YAY for Grandma for showing up and being there for you. Family is important.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

I am so glad you followed your instincts and that you have such wonderful memories. I have sweet memories of my grands too!

Indie said...

Love this series on Grandmas.

My grandmother was the same. An alert bird who didnt let anything pass her attention.

Now that I am older I give a lot of credit to her and I appreciate all that she gave me.