This post is a tribute to my grandmother, Clara Viola (Fouts) Morris, who lived her life from October 6, 1916 to March 24, 2014.
Grandma wasn't the "grandmotherly" type that people tend to think of, a fluffy white-haired old lady sitting in a rocker knitting. She did crochet for most of her life, and probably made several tons of blankets, toilet tissue covers, potholders, baby clothes and various other yarn goodies, but I don't think I ever saw her in a rocking chair; there isn't even one at her house. Instead, she loved to travel, which she was able to do after her children were grown and she was living with her partner of over 40 years. He was a musician, and they traveled around several states; he and his band would play in different clubs, and she would frequently get temp work at the same club as a cocktail waitress. She had some pretty wild stories to tell from those days! When I was up there right after my mom had her surgery, I drove Grandma from Clearlake to St. Helena to visit her in the hospital. It had apparently been several years since Grandma had been out of Clearlake, and she reminded me of an adorable puppy dog on a road trip. She spent the whole trip to the hospital staring out the windows, trying to see everything as we drove by; if she'd had a tail, it would have been wagging furiously!! :-) I was really glad she got to take that last trip with me, even though she was exhausted by the time we got home.
Grandma was married three times (the first time at 18 to my grandfather) and widowed twice before she was 40. She raised four children and buried two of them, as well as two of her grandchildren. When I was at her house last week, I found a box labeled "Army Letters"; in it were many letters written to her by my grandfather while he was in the Army during World War II. With my mom's permission, I took them home with me and have been reading them out loud to Martin in the evenings since I've been home. They are fascinating to read, and although they weren't written by her but to her, they are giving me a different perspective on her life and who she was, as well as introducing me to the grandfather I never knew.
Grandma was one of the ladies who taught me to crochet, and I will always appreciate the time she spent helping me when we visited her or vice versa. In retrospect, I realize that she also taught me, as did my mom, that you don't have to conform to what society expects you to do in order to be happy. It's more important to follow your heart and be who you REALLY are.
Rest in peace, Grandma, and I hope you are having a big happy reunion with your parents, your sister, your husbands, your partner, your children, and your grandchildren. Say hi and hug everyone for me!