Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Legacy of Strength

Grandma may be gone here on earth but when I think about her she is still on the Alaskan waters, in the galley of a small Troller, The smell of Coffee and the sound of rubber on the bottom of the cups and her laugh.
These words were "borrowed" from my cousin, Rodney. I will always remember Grandma in the kitchen making hot cocoa for us little ones and will forever hear her voice singing hymns at church on Sunday mornings.  Shirley Marcilee Kennison Sannar passed away March 3rd, 2011 leaving all who loved her with many happy memories.
Grandma was born July 4th of 1923 in the Wallowa Valley of northeastern Oregon.  She was the oldest of three children and had to grow up fast when her dad passed away when Grandma was only eleven.  After being the one sent, in the middle of the night, to fetch the doctor, Grandma spent the next years helping her Mom raise her younger brother and sister.
My grandparents met at a dance where Grandpa was to shy to approach the pretty girl, but instead asked a friend to ask her out for him.  Six months later, Toot and Shirley drove to Walla Walla, Washington to be married.  Grandpa says it was the hottest day of the year and his wedding outfit was a $5.00 wool suit that he had saved up to buy.   Back in Wallowa County, the happy couple moved in with Grandma's mom for a few months.  Their first house together was a wall tent with a wooden floor.  Can you imagine?  A wall tent?  And in the bitter cold winters of Wallowa County?  My grandparents were strong, stubborn people their entire lives.  Grandpa, at 90 years old, still is. 

For the next few years, Grandma and Grandpa started a family, welcoming my Dad and Aunt Judy.   Work was scarce during the war and Grandpa worked all kinds of odd jobs.  Towards the end of the war he was drafted and served as a soldier oversea's.  Once back in the states, Grandma and Grandpa moved to the logging camp of Starkey where Grandpa worked as a mechanic and my Aunt Kathleen joined the family.

Early in their marriage, my Grandma had told Grandpa that her job was to be his wife and the mother of his children.  That wherever he went, she would go.  So when Grandpa's brother-in-law called from Alaska, telling him mechanics were needed, off they went.  Grandma made her new home in Ketchikan without a backwards glance.  Even though she was deathly afraid of the water, when Grandpa decided to buy a commercial fishing boat and make a living from the sea, Grandma tugged on her boots, pulled on her rain slicker and became the Skipper of that fishing boat.  For years, they trolled the Alaskan waters, making a good living and storing away many memories and stories to share with friends and family. 

When retirement time rolled around, Grandma and Grandpa moved back to Oregon but still craved adventure, so they packed up their motor home and headed to the desert every winter until just the last two when Grandma was having blood pressure issue's and problems with her hip.  Even then, they kept the motor home and refused to park it at families, instead enjoying their time in an RV park with other year round residents.  Strong and stubborn.

Grandma was a wonder in the kitchen.  I can still taste her delicious mincemeat pies from my childhood.  She loved to quilt and made beautiful handstitched quilts for each and everyone of us grandkids and even a few of the great-grands.  Grandma and Grandpa had a large garden every year, growing and canning their produce right up into their late 70's.  Two summers ago, we celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with a camping trip and family picnic in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. 

My family is full of strong women and Grandma was always right at the head of that line.  Such a wonderful legacy of strength and love she has left for her family. 

Rest now, Grandma. Your work here is done.
"And if it looks like we were scared to death
                                 Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other
                                                You should have seen it in color"
                                                          ~Jamie Johnson


ancient one said...

Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful person. Isn't it funny how our best memories are of the food we enjoyed at their homes. Loved this post tonight!

Egghead said...

You are luck to have such great memories of your grandmother. I hope you write more...the story ended abruptly.

jojo said...

what a wonderful tribute to a lovely lady...Godspeed.

Anonymous said...

I think we've got some big shoes to fill Mommy! I know she'll be right there with my Grandma watching over us the rest of the way through this crazy wild life. I love you very much!

mtnchild said...

Such a great tribute to a wonderful woman! I would love to have known her; the stories she could tell. My grandmother died when I was very, very young and don't have any memories of her.
Blessings to you and yours Paula.

Mary Lea said...

That was a wonderful post Paula. It sure sounds like your Gramma was a special lady!

Bonnie said...

What a lovely memorial. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you heal from your loss.

Yolanda said...

So sorry for your loss . I loved the post and I still miss my granny almost everyday and she has been gone sinc 97.

Jeni said...

Isn't it amazing though to think back on what our grandparents and/or great-grandparents all endured just to exist much of the time? This was just a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother and shows what a strong and beautiful person she was in all aspects.

Adrienne said...

What a beautiful tribute to a life well lived. How blessed you have been to have had her. I'm sorry for your lost - I'm glad you have so many wonderful memories!

Anonymous said...

Paula what a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. You have many great memories of her to share with your children and grandchildren.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Beautiful story of your grandmother!
So sorry for the loss of someone who meant so much to you and your family. You are ALL in my prayers.

Adrienne said...

Thank you for sharing the Grandmother with us - and her story. It's such an inspiration! I'm sorry for your loss. I know you will always miss her. Praying that your heart will heal and hold her close with all the sweet memories left behind.

Connie said...

What a beautiful post and I'm sure a blessing to all who read it. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Paige said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Paula, but what a wonderful tribute to someone you loved most in this world. Sounds like she was quite the lady and lived a long, interesting life.

Stacey's Treasures said...

Oh how I love this post. The story of Grandma's life is so amazing.
I always remember the smell of coffee & Grandmas beuatifull quilts. Do you remember her blue coffee cups & dishes?
There are so many stories I wish I knew about Grandma & Grandpa's life.