Tuesday, January 26, 2010

African Violets and my Grandmother

Before I get started on this entry, I want to say how much fun it has been to get to know some of you Company Girls in recent weeks. I think "blogging gals" are just some of the best in the country. Do I hear an "amen" to that? I'm inspired by many of you young Moms that are doing your very best to be Godly Moms as you balance your extremely busy lives. I have a 30 year old daughter and daughter in law that are right where many of you are, so I applaud you and want you to know that your efforts will not go unnoticed.

Okay, you may be thinking that today's blog entry is most interesting. I try hard to always think of a "catchy" title to each entry, one that will make you want to read my blog. ~smile~


My paternal Grandmother (pictured above in 1992) was a character to say the least. She was the most fun Grandmother and when her Grandchildren were around, nothing else mattered. Well, really, nothing else mattered whether or not we were around, but that's another story. She could do string art, play the harmonica, loved to play dominos and believed in a lot of old "wives tales." Needless to say, all of that was most entertaining to me as a child. For the first 10 years of my life, we lived near my paternal Grandparents and I always looked forward to staying the night at their house. In those days, there were nothing but double or twin beds and my Grandmother slept in a double bed and my Grandpa slept in a twin bed. They were in the same room, but nonetheless, they had separate beds. ~wink~ My Grandmother was a rather large woman and I absolutely loved to snuggle up to her as I fell asleep. I can still remember the secure feeling that it gave me.

In October of 1988 my Grandparents (pictured above around 1988) reached a point where they could no longer live alone. My Dad's sister had passed away at a young age and that left him an only child. My Grandparents lived in Ft. Smith, Arkansas and my parents lived in Lynchburg, Virginia. Not a real workable arrangement for caring for my Grandparents. After prayer and discussions the decision was made to move them to Louisiana to a nursing home near me. They did not want to leave Ft. Smith (and rightfully so) but they did agree that they would come here since it wasn't near as far from Ft. Smith as Virginia. I had some connections with the Director of Nursing at one of our local nursing homes and she made arrangements for them to come and reside there. I shall never forget the day that we moved them in and the sadness that overcame my Dad, Mom, brother and myself as we left them that first night.

The years that followed were years filled adjustments, many ER visits, laughter, sadness and lots and lots of memories. I believe the national average for folks living in a nursing home is 18 months. Well, my Grandparents broke that average by a long shot. My Grandpa lived until 1992 and passed away at the age of 88. We just knew that my Grandmother could not last that much longer. After all she and Grandpa had been married 68 years and we felt like she would ultimately grief herself too death. Wrong!! She lived on for 7 more years and died in July of 1999. We were blessed that both of them ultimately just "wore out." They did not have any long and extended illness and , except for some short term memory loss, they were able to keep their minds in tact. Life was very different for me when they both were gone. I had watched over their care for 11 years and it was a real adjustment when they were gone.


I always remember my Grandmother growing African Violets in her kitchen window. I especially remember the bright purple blooms on many of them and she grew them in coffee cans. Yes, that's right, old rusty coffee cans with holes punched in the bottom of them for drainage. The kitchen window was almost always raised and they were exposed to the rain, the wind, the cold, the heat, and they always thrived. A fact that is amazing to me now.

At some point I shared this fact with a dear friend and when my Grandmother passed away she remembered the "African Violet story" that I had told her. So, shortly after my Grandmother's death the local florist comes to my front door with a beautiful basket filled with two African Violets. I did think they were beautiful and I knew immediately why she sent them. But, I had no idea what I was going to do with them or how I would ever keep them alive.


One day as I was passing by them, it occurred to me that I should research the growing and care of African Violets and grow them in memory of my Grandmother. So, that's exactly what I did and I have had so much fun with them. I still have the original two that my friend sent, plus about 5 others. I spend much more time "babying and caring" for them than my Grandmother ever did, but it's enjoyable. I just could not bring myself to put them in a coffee can and leave them to just "do their thing." ~giggle~ I've researched and read and "play by the rules" for growing African Violets. I even gave a program a few years back to our local Garden Club on "The Growing of African Violets." I knew my Grandmother was smiling down from heaven and likely saying, "she's making a whole lot more work out of this than is necessary." ~chuckle~

Who knows, maybe I'll still be growing violets when the Lord calls me home and perhaps my daughter will want to continue growing them in my honor. ~smile~ And, maybe I've caused you to want to "try your hand" with African Violets.









Lea
Lea

Hi there! My name is Lea. I've been wife to the best Hubby for 44 years....Mom to a son and daughter....CiCi to 4 precious Grans....lover of family and friends....enjoy laughter and a good time....shopper....picture taking maniac....maker of delicious fudge....organizational enthusiast....memory maker....Southern Belle...and most importantly.....a Child of the King! Welcome to my little corner!

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing about your grandparents. I only have 1 grandma left and she's 103! I joke that she's waiting for all her 18 grandkids to be married before she goes anywhere (only 4 more need to get hitched). =p Her memory is still sharp but her body is not as great as it used to be. She lived with us when we were growing up, actually coming to the US when I was born to take care of me. Grandmas always have great stories to tell. They leave wonderful legacies. How fantastic that you were able to care for your grandparents.

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  2. Grandparents are really special :) It's wonderful that you do that in her memory.

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  3. Your flowers look so pretty! African violets remind me of my grandmother, too, although I don't think she actually kept them.

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  4. What great memories you shared! Your time together was obviously a mutual blessing. I always wished I could have lived closer to my grandparents, though I treasure times we have spent together.

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  5. A beautiful post!

    My Grandma grew her african violets in a coffee can too!

    Thank you for sharing these memories! Have a great weekend!

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  6. Thanks for visiting my blog, Lea. And bless you for the long time you cared for your grandparents. That is a big responsibility. It's so nice you have that tangible reminder in the flowers. Great memories--thanks for sharing.

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  7. The flowers are beautiful! My grandfather was the "green thumb" around our family. He could grow anything, although a deep love for Nero Wolfe probably made orchids one of his favorite! I still plan on building a litte rose garden one day in honor of him!

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  8. You story is the sweetest. I hope that my kids get to grow up near their grandparents. Right now one set is in CA, the other in VA and we live in FL! And what a great legacy they left you. I think I will grow some African violets this year, now that I have an expert to contact when I have questions!

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  9. My grandma has ALWAYS had African Violets. I've tried time and time again to grow them - but to no avail. Seems as if a child or kitty knock them over one time to many, and they just haven't been able to survive that kind of abuse. Someday . . . :)

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  10. African violets remind me of my grandmas, too! That must have been a "thing" for that generation....and how cool that your grandmother passed on her love of them to you! I've managed to kill all the ones I ever had, but I never tried growing them in a coffee can. Maybe that's worth trying!

    Thank you for the warm memories your post inspired.

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  11. Those are beautiful flowers and what a wonderful way to celebrate your grandmother!

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  12. I love African Violets! Don't have any presently, maybe someday I hope to again.

    What a precious post. Thank you for sharing that story. My maternal grandma went home last January...I have wonderful memories of her that flood my mind often. What a blessing they are.

    Have a wonderful week!
    LydiaCate

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  13. This is a lovely post, that's such a great way to remember your grandmother. I've never grown those plants but it would be so nice to have some colour on the window sill, maybe I'll give them a shot.
    Jade

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So glad you stopped by and hope you enjoyed your visit. I love your comments and read each and every one of them and I always try to reply to them. Blessings to you this day!