Today, May 17, is the tenth anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Today I’m remembering my still missed Grandma. I’m remembering much that seems ordinary, but those are the memories of the root of lives. I’m also remembering the picnics at Minneopa State Park outside of Mankato, Minnesota during my week summer stay with her and grandpa. I always got to share a family birthday celebration with both Grandma and Grandpa, as we were all March babies born during snowstorms. And there were what we called the Betsy-Tacy tours we’d do in Mankato from time-to-time, where Grandma would point out the real-life places that had inspired the author of those books. (For those of you who don’t know the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Heart Lovelace, they are too-little-known classics of children’s literature. They are stories of two young friends, and others, growing up in a small town in the early 20th century. The town is based on the Mankato the author grew up in, and the stories are based on her own childhood. Lovelace’s childhood home, “Betsy’s House,” is still there and has been restored by the Maud Heart Lovelace Society.)
She encouraged my interest in photography. My first SLR camera was a camera that my grandmother lent me. When she would go on trips to Norway or Wales (especially the study tours to Norway), she’d come back with rolls upon rolls of film. Her grandson takes after her, only I’m now shooting with a digital SLR and I’m not taking photos of the old rosemaling in Norway’s folk museums.
Grandma was an artist, a top notch rosemaler. (Rosemaling is folk Norwegian rose painting.) She studied with some of the best painters in Norway and the United States, and taught many people the art herself. When I was young, she would patiently teach me some basics of rosemaling. I always enjoyed it, but was never really any good at it myself. But my grandma’s painting was beautiful. The photo here is one of her plates, which I proudly display on my living room wall.
Above, all, she was a kind and caring woman who was so often ready to be with us on our important days growing up. Her friends have told me that she would glow to talk about her family. I still remember how strange it was at the visitation before her funeral that she wasn’t there checking on her family members, seeing that we were alright. Her absence at our family gatherings in the years since has, perhaps, come to feel less strange, but I still miss her, even a decade later.
In memory of
March 11, 1922 – May 17, 2000