Flashback Friday – Ode to my Great-Gran

Have you ever stopped to consider who you might be like as you grow older?  If you are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age, what character traits will you possess?  Will you be a cranky, cantankerous old bird or will you be remembered as the person with a zest for life & a smile in your heart right to the bitter end?

As mentioned in my post here, life seems to have shifted a wee bit in terms of roles these days.  Perhaps that is the reason this question even comes to mind.

If I could emulate a person that I would like to aspire to be in my senior years, it would be my Great Gran Johnson.  I had the privilege of knowing her through my childhood and on into my 20’s.  She was 96 years young when she left us.  Interestingly, when I was growing up, I never perceived her as being old.  I still don’t.

My recollection of her, then & now, is one of a woman who possessed an exuberance for life.  I remember her smiling face, a sparkle in her eye,  and her excitement when you came to visit.

Born in the late 1800’s , she was part of a generation of women that, in my opinion, possessed a brave sense of adventure as they travelled across the ocean to form a new life, often leaving their families behind.  Their determination & tenacity is admirable to say the least.

Earlier days - my Great-Gran with my grandmother & her brother.

Earlier days – my Great-Gran with my grandmother & her brother.

Her strength in character became evident to me years ago when my grandmother & I had a conversation discussing stories of her youth & the challenges they faced growing up.

In a very candid & open conversation with my grandmother, she explained that when my great-grandfather returned home from the 1st World War, he suffered terribly from shell shock, thus leaving him unable to work & barely able to function even amongst his own family.

I am certain there were many who suffered in silence in those days.  These kinds of issues were just not discussed openly.  In fact, even as my grandmother & I talked about this, she had some difficulty in sharing the personal details of her Mom & Dad’s life.

For my great-grandmother, this meant the lions share of raising her family & working fell to her.

My great-gran was a midwife, so in addition to caring for her own family, she had the added responsibility of delivering & caring for a number of moms & their babies in her community.

Her calming & gentle nature is reflected in the journals she kept documenting the various births, often leaving little comments about the baby that she had helped to bring into the world.  Baby girl, lovely as a rose.”  “Premature baby. 3lbs4oz, a little dream”.  “Best baby & lovely mother,  anxious to get home to soldier husband.”

Despite the hardships she endured, I have no recollection of her ever complaining or speaking negatively about anything or anyone.  Perhaps her daughter, my grandmother, had a different perspective, but the person I recall possessed a gentle soul, a positive mindset & a genuine interest in young people.

This is one of my favourite recollections of her as a great-grandmother.  She loved nothing more than to sit down with you & hear about the latest & greatest.  Whether it was music or fashion or boys,  she listened with genuine interest & enthusiasm.

I wish I had known my her more as an adult & learned more about her life.  What I do know is, that in the time we had together, she left an impression on me.

As I look to the future, I hope that I will become someone she would be proud to know.   I hope that I continue to try to find the good in people, that I keep my sense of humour & find interest in the latest & greatest as she did.  I believe she would expect nothing less of me.

What about you?  Who inspires you?  Who do you hope to be?

Thanks for dropping in!



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13 Responses to Flashback Friday – Ode to my Great-Gran

  1. What a great post and a fabulous photo!

  2. joannesisco says:

    Great post! I really enjoyed it. My grandparents were virtual strangers to me and my great-grandparents were long gone as I grew up. How wonderful that you had this special experience to hear the stories of 3 generations before you!!
    Like you, I’ve noticed there are different types of growing old. There is the bitter, angry version, the resigned, given-up ‘all-is-lost’ version and then the ones who never stop being young in their hearts – constantly learning and seeing the beauty around them. I really hope to be a #3 so I’m practicing now as much as possible so I can get it right later 🙂

  3. Lynn says:

    Thanks Joanne! I was so very fortunate to have known her:-) Sadly, I never met my great-grandfather Johnson. I would have loved to have known the man that won her heart! I am with you on your choice of #3! Thanks for reading!

  4. Jane says:

    I can’t imagine she’d be anything but proud! I’m in for #3 too!!

  5. Cheryl Marsh says:

    🙂 Heartwarming!, tx Lynn – I’m sure she’d be ever so proud!!, esp. your being like her.
    And with thoughts of another, I’d like to pass this on to a good friend, now 83 seeming 50-ish, she still plays tennis 3-4 times a week and celebrated her 80th inviting friends to a pub she enjoys, always in fun-form!
    cheers, God Bless, tx again
    love, c

    Cheryl Marsh

    Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2014 12:28:57 +0000
    To: clmavon@hotmail.com

  6. Cheryl Marsh says:

    ps – you look like your Gran too

    Cheryl Marsh

    Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2014 12:28:57 +0000
    To: clmavon@hotmail.com

  7. Lynn says:

    Yes, definitely have my grandmother in my genes as does my daughter!

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