I've often wondered what my mother's childhood would have been like if her father had lived. I don't know if it would have better or about the same. It was tragic for her to lose her father at six years old. She loved her step father and cared for him deeply, but it was never an easy relationship. I'm not sure it was an easy relationship with her mother either...but I'm not sure any mother/daughter relationship is all that easy. To all who knew her - my mother was a remarkable person. As much as I know she was shaped by her mother, father and step father - I think she might have impacted just as much by her grandparents.
Mom's grandmother "Mom" Friddle probably grew more important as Mom got older. Mom Friddle was a sounding board. When Mom needed a confidante or advice, it was Mom Friddle that she talked to daily. They talked about the babies, husbands, friends or anything else that was important. Mom Friddle loved hearing what mischief that my brothers had gotten into...and I suspect that if she lived as close to us as my mother had lived by her...then she would have been helping them getting into even more trouble. Mom used to talk about her grandmother sending her to the store to pick up a few groceries. When she got home, Mom Friddle would always give her some money and told her to keep that safe. She said that every woman needed some "jingle money!" That lesson served Mom well her entire life. She always kept money stashed away for some emergency and after she died, Dad and I found her secret stash and we knew what it was for and who taught her to do that!
About a year before she died, Mom Friddle had to stay with us for about a week because of some work that was being done at her house. Mom Friddle was probably about 4'10 by that point and I doubt she weighed 90 pounds. She was never a good cook and so food wasn't that big of a deal to her. However, my mother was a wonderful cook...and at every meal, Mom Friddle ate second or third helpings of everything. I know that my mother wondered where all that food went...because she never ate that much normally. It was fun having her with us. I don't remember a lot of specific things - but I remember sitting next to her on the couch and listening to her tell stories. It didn't matter that she had a crutch or that her head shook constantly from what was probably something like Parkinson's Disease. I'm not sure I ever really saw her eyes because she was always wearing dark glasses. None of that bothered any of us...because she was just Grandma!
I suppose that I have always felt specially connected to her because she died the day before my 12th birthday (See 33 Years Ago Today ) but there is something else that I've realized as I've gotten older. My mother left a huge imprint on the person I am today. Her influence has affected my job, how I think, and my attitude about life in general. My great grandmother left a similar imprint on my mother. So, as she helped shape the woman that my mother became as an adult, she also helped shape the person that I am. She is a part of me in so many ways...so today, I remember her...partly because it is the anniversary of her death, but also because it is my birthday the following day. Mom Friddle might have only been alive for about 12 years of my life...but I have felt her impact during my entire life.