I Resolve To…
January 1, 2009
On December 12th, my family lost my Grandmother, Eleanor Phillips, who lived in Fort Dodge, Iowa. I was lucky enough to be able to spend some precious time with her during her last days in the hospital. During part of that time, my cousins and I poured over Grandma’s various journals, letters and photos, and we got a wonderful sense of the fullness of her life and the way she lived and adapted throughout her 88 years.
In one letter to her sister written in the 5o’s, she talked about ripping down discarded clothing to make braided rugs. Her journals and autobiographies described her huge love of gardening and enjoyment of the harvests. She was a farmer’s daughter, one of 6 children who knew what sharing and making-do meant, and who also knew to not leave the table without asking one sibling or parent to guard her plate. Her fondest memories of her mother included her ability to whip up the most amazing donuts for the family and to make a dress for my grandmother the night before she wore it to a dance.
It was clear that she had a happy childhood – she carried a 80 year old snapshot of a family Sunday picnic in her wallet, and in her writing she often described her many memories of her parents hugging and kissing, and her father’s desolation when her mother died at a very young age. She remembered her and her siblings’ excitement at seeing their single gift and one orange next to their plates Christmas morning.
So, my resolution? To continue to carry my grandma and her lessons with me. Embrace simple and good living, enjoy family and seek happiness in the smallest things. She didn’t live her life with the intent of being ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’, but her way of life was what so many of us strive for today.