Grandma, with love

I have inherited my Grandmother’s stubby workaday hands.  It’s probably a good thing since Nkonyas see long elegant hands as a sign of laziness and not as hands that can reach a full octave on the piano or as the indication of a budding surgeon.

My Grandmother and her husband Nathaniel left the relative settledness of Ontario just weeks after her father’s death and came west to homestead in a sod-roofed shanty in the fry and freeze of the Saskatchewan prairie.  She raised eight principled children through the dust of the dirty thirties. In the summers she sometimes paid them the munificent sum of one penny for the foreskins of a hundred flies- whole corpses accepted.  In the long winter evenings she read aloud from Walter Scott, and Longfellow, and the Bible.

She was a past mistress of making do. When rain was short and nothing much else would grow she turned even the unprepossessing vegetable marrow into preserves. There isn’t much that can be said in favour of that lowly squash except that it thrives and fruits in adversity.

Admittedly, when her offspring came of age, and just about the time that times got good, it was too late to convince them of the merits of farming. The family holding was sold to a couple of enterprising Frenchmen as Grandma’s children scattered elsewhere.   All remained frugal though, and none of them threw anything out, ever (at least not that I know of).

My grandfather died early of farmer’s lung.  My grandmother lived to see her 100th birthday, hard of hearing, but still reading the morning devotions out loud,  having been carefully tended for many years by a maiden daughter.


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