Today marks what would have been my Grandma Goodie’s 110th birthday. Born in Peace River, Alberta, February 3, 1907, she said it was so cold her mom kept her in a box by the woodstove in the kitchen during the day and tucked her between her mom and dad at night to keep her warm. The family rambled around for her first few years before settling in Snohomish when she was twelve, first on Mill Street then on the Homestead on Meadow Lake. I loved to hear her tell of clearing the land and building their house in that wilderness. I think the house came in pieces from a structure being dismantled over in Three Lakes. My great grandpa and her oldest brother Palmer hauled it in a wagon. In the summer they dined on wild strawberries and cream and swam in the clear water of the lake. As much as she loved her siblings, especially her brothers, she was thrilled when the path was cleared enough that she could go back to school. Life long friendships were formed with other kids who lived out in the country wilds.
As kids do, my grandma grew up, and left the family home, first to live in Everett and work in the cannery, then to marry my grandpa and live for a time by the ocean at Pacific Beach. Family called them back to the area when my dad was born in 1932. They lived in Everett and on Ruggs Lake Loop in Silver Lake before grandma’s dream of owning her own farm was realized. The farmhouse and barn stood sturdy on the hill above the flat land along the Snohomish River. The white framed Lutheran church sat on the fence line behind grandma’s house, creating a scene worthy of a Grandma Moses painting.
When we kids came along, four of us and two cousins, there was no place we’d rather be than grandma’s house. Hay forts in the barn, bike rides along the river, not to mention a freezer full of goodies… There really was no place we’d rather be, talk about memories! Of course we kids also grew up, and I’m happy to say my kids have their own Grandma Goodie memories. Playing in the barn, running through the corn rows, stacking butter crackers and cinnamon toast squares, the list is endless. I’m so thankful for that gift.
I would love to write that Grandma lived out her days on her beloved farm, playing Go Fish with the great grands until the end, but that was not to be. A stroke tore her from her farm and she finished her life at a home in town. ‘Adult Care by the Lake’, she lived on the shore of Blackman’s Lake, just around the bend from the boat launch where we fed the ducks on summer days, and a block from the park where we brought our McDonald’s Happy Meals to picnic on when my kids were little. Though she didn’t get to stay ‘home’, she was happy and content and close, so family could visit often. We found comfort in the fact she was warm and cozy and no longer had to work so hard. She said good bye at ninety two, a good, long life, though I do believe it’s never enough when saying goodbye to someone so loved. Love you and miss you, Grandma, Happy Birthday!
At the lake, after a visit, May 5, 1997~
It’s raining. The lake catches my tears. Pieces of a visit float on the circles that spread from each drop. Like the rings of a tree, every ripple is a memory.
Enough for a thousand years.
Old growth cedar. My grandma and me.
And one day when she is the rain, the lake will hold her. I will catch her in my cupped hands and as she slips through my fingers, the rings will be her smile. And if I cry, (selfishly) for what I have lost, those tears will splash with rain drops.
The lake is high, the water mark. My grandma and me.