Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving and Memories Part 2

The first post was about my grandma Vina. This post is about my grandma Jacobs. I was close to my grandma. She was an amazing woman and I have so many memories of her when I was a kid. I don't think I have one major event in my life that she wasn't part of. She came to my school plays, church plays, 4-H and FFA events, high school graduation, college graduations. She even drove with me to my first job interview.

She was an amazing and inspirational person. We had many conversations about her life growing up and throughout all the stages of her life. She was a preacher's kid. Her dad was a Methodist preacher. Her best friend growing up was Helen and she looked just like her sister, Eunice.

Her sister Eunice and Grandma.

 She met my grandpa Glen when she was working in the shipyard during WWII. He wasn't a Christian and she wasn't going to date him till he believed. She raised seven kids and a few grandkids on a very small income. She outlived all of her husbands and always shared her love for the Lord. Later in life her best friend was Barbara and she loved to sing and mentor kids. She was always helping out or being involved in Church.  Dad and I often joked that when she moved to Arizona that the First Baptist Church might fall apart because she was so involved.

Grandma with her friend Barbara.
When I needed serious prayer for myself or a friend I would call her because she was a prayer warrior  She told the story that when she was a kid she didn't realize how poor they were because they lived on a farm and grew a lot of their own food. She also shared the story that  her and Helen visited some of the sailors from the docks (this was before the war) and they gave a couple guys an avocado. When they later asked about the avocado the sailors said they didn't really like it. When the girls asked how they ate it, the guys replied that they didn't know what it was so they boiled it!!! 

One of my best memories is that she would dress up as a clown for Halloween… She had the brightest red wig. Every Halloween Mom and Dad would take me into town and one of the first stops would be her house. It was the only time I ever went to the front door of her house. Usually I would ring the bell, she would come, I ‘d say trick or treat and then she’d give me candy and then open the door further for me to come in and my parents who would be down on the side walk would come up and we would stay for a few minutes before going to more houses. This one year, I rang the bell, said trick or treat and then waited for her to open the door, instead she closed it. So I had to ring the door bell again and tell her it was me. We got a good laugh out of that.

She also taught kindergarten at the First Baptist Church. I think it started in her home then as it grew she was able to move it to the church. I was fortunate to be part of her last class before she retired. Many of my classmates that I graduated high school with were in her class and so were some of their older siblings. As we grew up if any of her students from kindergarten or Awana’s made the paper (in a good way) she would cut it out and send it to us even when we were in college.

First Baptist Church AM Kindergarten Class 1979-1980
When we were in kindergarten she would reward students when they could county to 100. All the kids who accomplished that each week would be taken on Friday down to Sprouts Ritz to pick out a coloring book. It took me two weeks of trying to get my coloring book. When I knew I was going to earn it I had my parents take me there on Sunday so I could take my time picking out my book. I wanted it to be special and when I picked it on that Friday I cherished that coloring book for a couple years.  She also taught us our ABC’s and when the whole class could say them, we took a field trip to Tastee Treat to have ice cream.

 She built our spiritual foundation but for me and several others she also helped build our educational foundation. She gave me my first big kid Bible and I still have it.  When my cousins Travis and Jason and I were little we would take her towels and make capes so we could fly and fight the bad guys. She helped us put them on each time because she would safety pin them around our necks. I think she got tired of washing all her towels because she had capes and hats made for us. I found mine while searching for the Bible she gave me when I was writing my thoughts down for her memorial service.  We left our super hero days behind but not the lessons. She also helped me earn my FFA Jacket so I could participate and learn the skills that laid the foundation for my career today. She let me do chores and mow her lawn to earn money for my jacket. I think she was just as proud of my jacket as I was. 

She also was there as a surrogate mom for the mom weekends my sorority or college had and for my college graduations. She also sat with me during each of Dad’s surgeries so I wouldn't be alone. She filled in after mom was gone. She told me I drove too fast (which I do) and to stand up straight and several other things that parents and grandparents tell the kids so that they will grow up with manners and respect for others.

But like any grandparent/grandkid relationship there were somethings I just didn't share with my grandma. I had a boy roommate in college and she wasn't comfortable with it. She even had me look up Bible verses about it. I went ahead and roomed with him but we just chose not to talk about it. I also didn't tell her I had a tattoo but even with those disagreements on things I knew she still loved me. She loved all her kids and grandkids despite our disagreements.

Grandma with most of her kids and grandkids a few years ago.
As I have grown up, I realized that I was able to accomplish everything I have because she was there through it all cheering me on as she did with all her grandkids. We knew that if we messed up she would be disappointed in our actions but never in us. She loved all her grandkids and great grandkids the same it didn't matter if you came into her family through birth or marriage. She didn't have lots of material things but she was overflowing in what mattered… family and friends.  In my mind she is the Proverbs 31 woman.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I know I will see her again one day because she was a believer and so my heart doesn't ache as much if I didn't have that hope but I still miss her. And now that she's gone I love spending time with my aunts and uncles when a few of them gather together so I can hear stories they tell when they are sharing their memories. 

Grandma, Grandpa Win, me and Dad

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving and Memories

Many of my Facebook friends are doing the 30 days of thankfulness by posting each day one thing they were thankful for. It was nice and it made me think of things I am thankful for in my life. I'm not participating partly because that's a big commitment. But it did get me thinking about two people who I am thankful for in my life and how they shaped me. Those two people are my grandmothers. I was named after both my grandmothers. My name was suppose to be Elizabeth Marie, after my maternal grandmother- Dorothy Elizabeth but I was born on my other grandmother's birthday- Vina. So I became Elizabeth Vina Marie. This year Grandma Vina would have been 102 on Veteran's Day.
Vina Foster the last time she rode a horse.
Grandma Vina was an amazing, funny and strong-willed woman. She died when I was in seventh grade and I have some memories about her but I came to my conclusion about who she is by reading letters and things she wrote when my dad was a kid/young adult.

She is always on the list when people ask "If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?" I always have her on my list. I would have loved to have a conversation with her as an adult. She was the type of person that within 10 minutes of talking to her she would know your life story and who you were related too. She also wouldn't back down if she was in a  disagreement and thought she was right. I think she was tough as nails and would fight like hell to protect her family or what she felt was important. But she was also funny or at least humorous so that others laughed.

I was one of those lucky kids that has both grandmas nearby but because of that I think didn't spend as much time with her and I now regret not doing so. I have learned things about her that I never knew before. I learned that she met her husband, my grandfather at a dance and that they loved to dance at the grange hall. Most of their dates were dancing and they wouldn't get he before dawn; this makes me smile because it want the part of grandma that I knew.

Roy and Vina Foster on their wedding day
She married in 1937 at the age of 23, had four kids and buried her husband in 1953 and a daughter in 1975. She loved her kids and worried about them. She had her family and they helped her.

My aunt shared a story with me that when she was 5 or 6 years old she had a chicken and a hawk had grabbed it. She started yelling and Grandma ran out of the house with the shotgun and shot the hawk. When I told dad about that he said she put the hawk under the wash tub outside so when their dad got home he could see that she shot it.

There is also the letter I read that she wrote to the Oregon Water master explaining that she had water rights and it didn't matter if the men at the neighboring ranches wanted it she wasn't giving them up. There's also the story of after grandpa died those neighbors told her to sell and move to town and put her kids in the foster care system because she couldn't run the ranch by herself. She told them to go to hell (my words not hers) and funny thing her kids and grandkids still open land there and all those ranchers have been gone for long time.
Cutting firewood Nov 1962

I posted on our families group page that I was writing this blog and asked if anyone else had stories of her. My cousin had one. Angie wrote:

"I have a story...A funny memory...I remember staying at grandma and grandpa's, being inside then hearing the dogs bark, followed by the honk of a horn. It was not a light tap, it was a lay on the horn followed by a several honks until grandpa would go outside, then there would be your grandma in her big ole car saying, "Robert, come get these damn dogs!". "I hate these damn dogs!". So grandpa would have to bring the dogs into the utility room until she left. Then grandpa would say in a mocking voice after she would leave come on you damn dogs back outside side. Then we would all sit around giggling that Vina said damn."

My aunt had another one as well,

"bless her heart. she did not "learn" to drive 'til daddy got really sick. she would take Frances up on Maury (mountains) & drive around "learning". Frances wouldn't ride in the front seat  I don't think she ever got it right. She would floorboard the gas then let off till it was SLOW. Then floor it again. Linda has a story about Momma trying to turn around in her driveway.----when I learned to drive she sent me to get bummer lambs. at the Moores in Powell Butte they gave me a cute lil cocker spaniel puppy. she had a fit.--she made us put it outside when we left for school. then we noticed--the door cracking open & she was putting the puppy out--just before we got back to the house."

I read some of her stories about her courtship with grandpa and when they got married. She had a double wedding. Her and Grandpa, Uncle Robert (Angie's grandpa) and Aunt Hazel all got married on the same day. Several years later, as Aunt Hazel would tell the story a traveling salesman came calling and apparently my dad didn't much care for him as a child so he told him that he was born on the day his mom and dad got married. Grandma had to do some fast talking to explain that yes he was born on the day they got married but several years later.

I also learned a life lesson from her and my dad. Grandpa died in 1953 and that winter is was bitter cold. A had Effie Calbreth (sp?) stopped by for a visit and Grandma had told her it she would love to visit but she had to figure out how to keep the house warm. I think dad said she was cutting up old fencing to burn later. Effie went on down the road and when she got to the Post Store she chewed out the state road crew and neighbors that was sitting there because they were in there drinking and "that poor woman up the road is burning her furniture to keep her kids warm." That weekend those guys and some of the neighbors went out and cut a lot of wood and delivered it to Grandma. Dad said she was so grateful and valued that wood to the extent that when she died in 1987, Dad thought she might still have some of that wood in the shed because she tried to burn other wood before that. I learned that story when I was complaining one time to him about selling wood to an elderly lady in town for less than half of the going rate. He told me that sometimes it's not about the money but it's about taking care of people. And that's why to this day, Dad's wood cutting rate is dependent on how much money you make!

As I learn more about her I realize that without knowing her through my teenage years and into adulthood I as well as my cousins have inherited a few of her traits. I'm proud of the person my grandma was and will always have her on the list of five people you would like to have dinner with. She will definitely be someone I can't wait to see and visit with in Heaven.