Grandma Keithler (my great grandmother) and me, in the living room of her little house up on 102nd Avenue in Vancouver. I see this little home quite often while we're driving around town, and while I don't have any memories of being there, it makes my heart go pitter-pat to think that people I loved once lived there. Poppy, Grandma's husband, planted a sequoia tree in their front yard - if I'm not mistaken, that's the same tree in the window - which is still there and now huge. My memories of Grandma are still pretty tender - she died when I was twelve, and I still remember her voice and what she smelled like (pretty).
Some things I've heard about Grandma are that when she was young and lived in Montana, her father owned a livery barn in town. When new people moved into town, it was Grandma's job to drive them to their new property in the old Model T her dad owned. She had to drive backward whenever they went uphill, because if she drove forward, all the gasoline would go to the back of the tank and the engine died. Grandma also played the piano for the silent movies at her local theater.
Grandma's mother Lena died in the influenza epidemic, her father John died five years later, and two of her three brothers died at young ages; as a mother, she lost two of her three children within seven years of each other, also relatively young. She was a tough lady, quite used to having to work hard, and didn't put up with much nonsense. Yet she was sweet. When I was a little girl, about seven years old, we all took a trip to the beach and we kids took our shoes off to play in the sand. Afterward, I had sandy feet I had to wipe off before I could put my shoes back on. My aunt's younger sister, Dena, sat me on the car and wiped my feet off for me. Grandma noticed us, smiled big and said to me, "Spoiled!"
She put butter in her tomato soup and only ate "Hollywood" bread. She owned a little pink plastic Ferris wheel for her spools of thread and a green flocked turtle pincushion with tiny black plastic glasses and a knickknack of small, rainbow-colored birds flying above a plastic base and a paperweight of clear plastic with a red rose inside and a green metal stool with a pull-out step. I loved visiting her home and seeing her little "treasures." We watched Lawrence Welk at her home on Saturday nights. Sometimes she would watch us out her little hallway window, when she lived next door.
I miss her.