My great-grandma passed away yesterday. She would have been 102 years old in October. Her mind started to go a few years ago and the past few years were difficult for her, but I will always remember all of the stories she used to tell us when we were growing up. She grew up on a farm in rural Missouri, and she'd tell us about riding her pony to school in town. Of course, my sister and I thought getting to ride a pony to elementary school would have been the Coolest Thing Ever, but Great-Grandma said she was so embarrassed. None of the city kids had to ride ponies to school.
The story we'd always beg for was the Old Blue Story. It's a pretty horrible story, actually. Great-Grandma's dad gave her some chicks to raise so she could sell them and afford to go to high school in town. No one else in her family had ever been to high school, so it was a pretty big deal. Then one day, her sister Helen's cat, Old Blue, killed a few of the chicks. Grandma warned her to keep the cat away from the chicks, but, no, he got to them again. That's when Grandma and her other sister, Dora, put Old Blue in a bag and threw him in the pond and drowned him.
See? I told you. Horrible. But my sister and I found it fascinating. Before you get the wrong idea, know that my grandma really was an animal lover and a kind and gentle lady. She just really, really, really wanted to go to high school.
I think my favorite story, though, is the one about how she and Great-Grandpa eloped. Great-Grandma started teaching in a one-room school house when she was 16, just like Laura Ingalls Wilder. When she was 19, she and Grandpa decided to run off and elope over Christmas vacation. The school board was going to fire her because
A) Nobody would elope in the middle of the school year unless she had to get married and
B) Married women couldn't be teachers.
Grandma had to get her landlady to go before the school board and testify that she was a nice girl and didn't have to get married. They let her finish out the school year, but then she had to quit because of the whole married-woman thing. She did eventually go back to teaching and taught second grade in Omaha for many years.
I feel very lucky that I got to grow up around her. WCB is named after her, and they got to meet last summer. Not many people come face to face with their great-great grandchildren.
Great-Grandma was my age in 1935. World War II hadn't started. There was no TV. Could she have imagined that her great-granddaughter would be writing about her on something called the Internet?
Anyway. We'll be back on the road tomorrow, headed up to Omaha for the funeral. Then we'll be home for about a day and a half and head up to Mayo already on Tuesday. Time flies.