Sunday, September 1, 2013

Aug 31, A Day Late

For most of you Aug 31 is the day Princess Diana died.. and yeah, I remember that. Only for me it is the day my marriage ended (still not sure if it was a happy or sad thing) and more importantly it was the day two woman who helped mold my life were born.

Do you have days in the year that mean something to you. Days other than your birthday, anniversary, kids birthday, holidays etc..? Well I do and August 31 is one of those days. In all honestly I should have written this yesterday but the words weren't there.

My Grandma, Dorthea Mae (Crabtree) Branch (There were a few other names thrown in there but I only know one of them and didn't want to ignore the other). My Grandma was a century ahead of her time. Had she been born into
My cousin Linda Comstock made this! hence the Aunt Dot
this world.. she would be president. Her teachings and thought process were so ahead of her time that I hear the pundits blowing smoke, I mean stating their new and innovative opinions and I think, That's not new.. I heard that when I was eight! Grandma was alive, vibrant.. tough as nails and proud of it. She could do ANYTHING she set her mind to and did! While she seemed to enjoy the occasional man (enough to marry three of them) she didn't really have a use for them.. I am sure there were all sorts of reasons why but for me, it didn't matter. She was Katherine Hepburn strong.. classy, gorgeous and yes a tough old broad (that was a compliment back in the day). I remember when we were kids and went to the mountains to go inner tubing and sledding.. there was grandma sliding down the hill right next to us. 

When I was a child she needed a traveling companion.. I go picked!! I was lucky enough to travel with her every two years for the next few years.. Hawaii (for a month), The East Coast, The West Coast.. and we didn't just travel we say, we learned. It was experiences that stayed with me forever. 

She always had this nifty little sayings and quotes Like:

  •  THERE IS NO SUCH WORD AS CAN'T. YOU ARE AN AMERICAN AND THE LAST FOUR LETTERS OF AMERICAN SPELL I CAN [believe me we rarely used the words I can't.. but as I got older and had kids.. I was a brownie leader and whenever the girls would say I can't I would say.. “Now if I had said that around my grandma she would say...(insert phrase here)” to this day.. those little girls now 19 – 22 can be heard to quote me when someone says I can't to them.]
Aside from that I have one (ok two great memories) of my grandma.

 What is hard to believe is that while I spent hours, days, weekends, weeks and even months at a time with Grandma I never and I mean never remember her cooking for me. Now we all know she fed me.. but to this day I don't remember what except for these two occasions..

Grandma had those wonderful orange trees in her backyard and I thought hey wouldn't it be cool to learn how to make freshly squeezed orange juice. So I asked Grandma.. “how do you make orange juice” *note I must learn to phrase my questions properly as I didn't ask for fresh juice and I did ask how “she” make juice.. Anyway, grandma went to the freezer pulled out a can of frozen orange juice and tossed it to me, saying.. “If you can read, you can make orange juice”

Having not learned my lesson, another time I wanted to learn how to bake a cake (you know from scratch.. don't even ask me why). So I asked Grandma (you know the one I never remember cooking for me) “Grandma, will you teach me how to bake a cake?” Yep you guessed it, grandma went over to the cupboard pulled out a box of cake mix and tossed it to me.. “If you can read, you can bake a cake”.. what did I learn? Don't ask grandma to teach you to cook and grandma was a great advocate of reading!

My cousin Linda Comstock made this!
The second most amazing woman and in my honest opinion the smartest woman I ever met.. and probably smarter than most I haven't. Was my Aunt Jean. Yep Grandma's oldest daughter.. born on the same day. She had a hard life and made some harder choices but through it all she was strong.. She was a woman to be admired and she played a huge part in my life!! When I took a friend to California a few years back (9 or 10 now) we spent some time with my aunt and let me tell you Mary will back me up on this. My Aunt Jean did something with her life.. Shoot she did everything!! A fabulous teacher, in her later years she and my uncle Karl, gave up their teaching positions in the American School system (A very well paying school district) and cut their salaries in half, in order to teach in the American Schools. They were actually teaching in Kuwait when Iraq invaded.. Well they were home for a three week vacation when Iraq invaded.. so they remained alive and well, but their things, all gone.. The only piece of jewelry I wear regularly was given to me by my aunt. And I think of her every time I glance at my finger and see it. 
Now Aunt Jean came close to repeating history with the birth of her youngest child. Lizzie was born on Sept 1. We are all convinced that Aunt Jean didn't want to keep the tradition going, so she crossed her legs and refused to push until the clock struck midnight.. either that or going into labor interfered with her birthday party.. no one is quite sure.

Since I am writing this on Sept 1.. Happy Birthday Lizzie 
My cousin Linda Comstock made this!


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