Stuff I Learned from My Grandma: The Grandpa Edition

While reading through some of my Grandma’s old journals I found this entry:

1975-10-03-Friday: On this day, 1939, I was married to Torald Teigen. He died five years ago. Carolyn washed clothes, baked bread and Indian pudding & met her mental healthgrp. Supper at Lyle & Beth. A sandwich supper with bread, cheese, sliced tomato, mayo,sliced avocado, alfalfa sprouts, to make your own sand. Preceeded & accomp by a glass of almaden, and a bowl of mashed potatoes & rutabaga. In background Charles Ives early American organ.

At first I thought, geez Grandma, way to skip on to the next thing there. No details, just, I married him and he died and oh, yeah, we washed clothes today, I had some wine, food, and listened to music. But as I kept reading, I noticed that for the 10 years of  journals I read, she consistently marked the day of his birth, the day of his death, and the day the day they married.


How interesting that she marked her years by the milestones of his life and his life with her. Now, I have no idea how close my grandparents were, Grandpa died before I was born, but I do know my grandma was a rockstar, a solid, amazing woman. She had 7 kids with my Grandpa. I heard a rumor that a gentleman pursued her at some point, but she never re-married. And she certainly never had gentlemen callers when I was around.

This next journal entry is particularly lovely. Grandma wasn’t very verbose in this particular journal unless she was visiting with one of her kids and grandkids, but here she paints a delightful picture of a winter evening with my Aunt Anna, her youngest child.

(No date, I think sometime after December 1975 and September 1976): As the bus neared Ashland the landscape looked cleaner & fresher with a deep fresh blanket of snow. The snowfall was recent enough that the spruces still had a light powdering of snow. Snow is piled high in the middle of the street downtown. Anna was there to meet me. With her baby due in less than two weeks she picked up my heavy bags & put them into the car. She brought & cooked a nice dinner featuring venison in mushroom, a jar of canned beans from their garden. We ate at the dining room table on the Guatemalan table clothwith the Nicaragua tree as centerpiece. Later we drove to Burche’s to get mail. The Maya manuscript book, the Psychedelic healing in Peru and the Weaving – but no Berlitz. Shelley Smith, the girl upstairs, has kept things up. The house smelled so good. And the stairway was fresh & clean. Home never looked so good. This was such a warm, pleasant homecoming. […]. I have such a glorious feeling of well being to be here in my own housethis morning. In Sept 1976 it will be six years since Torald died. (emphasis mine) Homecoming this year was a joyful event after an absence of 2 ½ months spend in Thornton (5wks) Madison (2wks) Mpls (___days).

But then she goes back to the dry version, yup, he was born on this date and I took a walk. He would have been only 64:

1977-03-28-Monday: Heavy fog. Torald Teigen born March 28, 1912. Max, N.D. Walked to Northern State to pay for Sony.

1978-09-03-Sunday: Torald died on this day 1970. To church with my bronze chrysanthemum picked at 6AM.

Still pretty short and to the point, but eight years after his death she picks a flower to mark the day. I’m not sure if there’s meaning behind the chrysanthemum, except that I am assuming she wore it to church that day in commemoration his death or maybe picked some from her garden to put on the altar.

I remember my grandma had a beautiful garden. I learned all about peonies when I was little because she would talk about the things in her garden as she gardened. And she was big on picking flowers and bringing them in. She would send me out to cut peonies from these enormous bushes on the side of her house and we’d put them in a vase and try to ignore the silly little ants crawling out of the bouquet. That’s what I know about peonies, they are full of tiny little ants. I don’t remember Chrysanthemums in her garden and had to look up what a bronze ‘mum looks like. They’re sure pretty.

But my favorites, probably because she gave me to understand that they were her favorites, were the Forget-Me-Nots. And I think that is what my Grandma taught me. Never forget. Love the people you love and keep them close, even if it’s in your journal to mark the milestones of their life after they are gone.

Thanks Grandma!

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