My last living grandparent turns one hundred years old tomorrow. I love her so much, and I'd love to celebrate it with her, or at least phone her. So you're asking, why don't I? She's a Jehovah's Witness.
That sucks a bit. I have to pretend it isn't a big deal. I told her I'd phone her after she turned one hundred years old, because I can't celebrate it. At least not in any obvious ways.
I think she's amazing. She raised four boys in a time of need. When her husband broke his back, she took on THREE jobs and still kept her house and her children. Egg grader, janitor, newspaper columnist.. She did whatever.
She was the sixth born child, the first born in Canada, when her parents, Walter and Lydia P:ajunen, arrived in Canada. The first two children didn't survive. They died in Finland, and I think two died on the journey to the new country. Lydia Pajunen became a midwife who delivered over 2000 babies, though older locals said the number was closer to 5000. I'm not sure I believe that for the simple reason that I can't picture Grandma Lydia having the time to raise my grandma, also conceiving and giving birth to Aunt Toini and being the bread winner in the whole process Two thousand? There's records. FIVE thousand? Can you even picture that kind of number? Though I'm certain that she probably got paid in things like food. Or maybe nothing. All while taking care of a husband with a drinking problem. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. Maybe she left him on his own while she did whatever she had to.
Grandma told me a story... She slept between her parents almost always. One morning, she woke up in a different place, and she had a new sister. They told her an angel brought her down from the chimney. My grandmother's first thought was...Why didn't the angel use the door?
My grandma had four boys. Jerrold, Arnold, Richard (Sandy) and David. Lydia delivered all but Uncle David, who arrived 14 years after my father and at 14 pounds.
When my father, Sandy, as he was commonly known, died, I was struck by how hard it must be for my grandmother to out live one of her children. She told me, "I used to consider it such a blessing to live this long..." My heart broke her her that day.
She dreamed of my father. He was wearing a white shirt, so bright, it glowed. He asked her to come outside, She asked him to come in for a cup of coffee. He would not. And she wasn't coming out. It remained that way until she finally woke up,
Don't worry...I didn't out her. My relatives, even the ones who aren't Jehovah's Witnesses never read this blog or anything else I write. I'm a bit of a black sheep and they are religious in one way or another.
This photo I have of her is the last time she came to Alberta to see everyone, so to speak. She saw my cat, Freya and she said, "Kitty is washing her face. You'll get company."
My uncle, who brought her there, and is a Jehovah's Witness Elder gave her a poisonous glare. So I said, "Well you're here, aren't you? She's a bit late."
I love my Grandma. She's the last grandparent I have left. She can't call me, so I will call her. On Thursday.