This spring I wrote a little ditty about making the move to our farm. I touched on my wonderful gramma and her story telling ability and the confidence she gave me to leave my old house behind and start a new adventure. It is with a heavy heart and many tear filled days that I say, my gramma has very recently passed away. In figuring out how to deal with this, I figured I had to do 2 things above and beyond spending time with family and resting, and those 2 things were to write about her here and to make something.
My gramma was an artist, a homemaker, a farmwife and a story teller. She was resourceful and creative, always finding ways to use what she already had to make what she wanted. She was a straight shooter and incredibly hard working, positive, particular, with a hardy attitude that allowed her to persevere through tough times on the farm, raising 6 kids, fighting multiple health problems and losing her husband. She was full of comforting wisdom that touched on the simplest of human experiences, and she always new when to throw in the punch line at the end of a good story. All her tales of the farm and life living in a little town, all had the same message tucked in them somewhere; if you needed a helping hand she'd have two to offer, if you were hungry you'd be fed, and if you needed somewhere to stay you'd be welcome in her home. Maybe that's how everyone was raised back then when times were tougher and we didn't live in so much abundance but maybe it was something extra special woven into her that made feeding the whole neighbourhood just another day in the life.
Every year as a kid, getting a birthday card from Gramma Greenwood was especially exciting as she hand painted all her own cards and she so, so very often painted birds. Little blue birds, red birds, flying little M shaped birds up in the skies, she definitely had a thing for birds. I think she thought it was pretty neat that I had a thing for a bird of my own, the owl of course. We were just 2 little artists with a thing for birds, and I will always cherish that connection I have with her. Over the years she painted a bit less and used more stamps and stickers but nonetheless she must have handmade 100s cards on her life. During the holidays last year she had me address most of her Christmas card envelopes as her vision was poor (something else we shared, vision problems, who would have thought in my 20s I would share the same retina specialist as my gramma!) As I was addressing the many, many envelopes she was sending out, I had to ask who some of the folks were she was sending cards to. Of course I knew many addressees but there was also many I didn't. I can't remember exactly who she was sending out cards to but she said something along the lines of, "Well this is your grandpa's only living cousin, this is the women I shared a hospital room with 10 years ago, this is so-and-so's neighbour I met a few years back." I asked her when was the last time she had seen some of these people and one of her answers was 40 years! She went on to say that you never have to lose connections with people if you stay connected with people ... What a wonderful and simple idea. Of course social media allows us to stay in contact like never before, but there is something to be said about sending and/or receiving tangible, paper mail during the holidays and at any time. I adopted her sentiment last year and sent out more cards than I usually would have and I want to let that grow into even something more this year. Who doesn't like getting happy mail?!
"Home is where you hang your pictures." Advice she gave me when I was so sad about leaving our old place for the farm, meaning sometimes in life you have to uproot and move on but as long as you are taking your life with you it doesn't have to be that scary. This wonderful quote has stuck with me hard and I just had to make it come to life so I could see it everyday. Here's a little something I whipped up, using the beautiful font Remachine Script by artist Måns Grebäck. Maybe these words struck a cord with you, or maybe someone you know could use them right now. I have made this PDF free for anyone who want the same reminder, just CLICK on the photo below.
The night my gramma left this earth the northern lights consumed the sky. They danced their way through shimmers of green, with the black, black sky peeking from behind, the stars speckled throughout, and wrapped up beneath it all was our weathered barn, our puppies and animals and all the possibilities our farm life has to offer. She told me once, "If I can drive a tractor so can you,' and gave me a small picture of her doing just that. Remember all, as much as I have come to love this rural life, I am a born-and-raised city girl and half the time I don't know what I'm doing. Moving out the country, let alone starting up this farm where we will raise goats and gardens, I had many, many hesitations as to whether or not I would be equip for the job. My gramma gave me confidence no one else could have, assuring me I too could get up on that tractor and take the wheel. I'm really going to miss her.
To all my family reading this, remember Beth Greenwood is so, so alive in all of us. If you need to feel a little more connected paint a bird, make a card or send a letter to an old friend. Invite someone over for supper who you had maybe lost touch with, or bring a pie over to the neighbours. She is always here somewhere. XO