Unanswered Questions - Shadow Box by Colette Bate
The mini book of journaling on the front cover reads:
I remember how surprised I was when I learned that she had a name. Etta. I called her Ma. Everyone did. She was my mother's mother and possibly the most influential person in my life. Where she lived was my home. Home because the family of a Marine moves a lot. And, mother and daddy would always say we were going home whenever we would travel back to Utah to visit.
I loved her. I loved her bathroom that was filled with pretty decorative bottles of Avon creams and perfumes. I loved the wooden cases of empty glass coke bottles that was always outside her back door. I loved the huge front porch where I would roller skate. And the front steps where I would sing and dance for my pretend audience. I loved her because she took me to Provo for dance lessons.
I loved her yummy raspberry jam. And, I loved going down to the basement, past the floor drain filled with suds from the emptying washing machine, to the fruit room and the dusty wooden shelves laden with jars of jams, jellies, and bottled fruit. I loved playing in the icy cold water that rushed downhill in the irrigation ditch in front of her house. I loved that she made me get up early every Sunday morning so she could wash and pin curl my hair. I'd sit under the hot metal bonnet hairdryer in the basement until it was time to comb my hair, put on a fancy dress, and ride with Pa to Sunday School. Ma didn't go to Sunday School. But, I loved coming home after church to smell the roast beef and vegetables and see the dinner table covered with a white linen tablecloth and fancy dishes. I loved plinking the keys on her piano. I loved that she made me take piano lessons. I loved coming home from school to find her sitting at the huge quilt set up on wooden posts in the far end of her living room. I loved that she sternly told me not to stomp my feet. I loved the occasional trips to Salt Lake ... day long excursions to Auerbach's, shopping, lunch, and the stories she would tell. I loved that her house was always clean, yet I never saw her cleaning.I loved the dirty old straw hat that she wore outside to protect her from the hot sun as she pulled weeds, planted flowers, and moved the garden hose around the lawn like a slippery green snake. I loved that she took me when she would visit her sister in Orem where I would play in the peach orchard until it was time to go back home. I loved that she took me to town and introduced me to all the people we would see. She knew them all. And, I loved how we would stop at the drug store soda fountain and sit on the shiny chrome stools and share a cherry coke before walking back home. Now I'm the mother of a mother. I realize how much I want my granddaughter's to have the same fond memories of their childhood and their grandmother that I have of mine. Her influence in my life is still palpable. But, now I find myself wondering what she was like as a woman. I realize she was much more than just Ma. She was a wife, of a quiet, hardworking man who loved to fish and secretly smoked cigarettes in the back yard. She was a mother to a deaf son who was sent away to school.She was a friend whose neighbors were always dropping by to visit.She was a person who loved to decorate, garden, gossip, and needlepoint. I wonder what her childhood like? Did she fall in love at first sight of Pa or did she learn to love him? Where did she find the strength when her son lost his hearing and her daughter lost her vision after a bout with meningitis? What made her laugh? Did she think she was pretty? Why didn't she go to church with us? Did she love to dance? What were her politics? Did she cry when Kennedy was shot? How did she cope when Pa died? Did she mind living alone? Did she know how much I loved her? How much we all loved her? I know that my fond memories of her are entangled with the fondest memories of my childhood. She was the best grandmother a young girl could have and I was proud to call her Ma. But, she was also Etta ... a woman I wish I had known.
The journaling square on the inside front cover reads:
What did you like to do in your spare time?
Who was your McDreamy?
Where did you like to hang out?
What rocked your world? What was your dream job?
What was your favorite junk food?
Flats or heels? Favorite sport?
What was the craziest thing you ever did?
How did you spend your paycheck?
What were your quirks? Did you sing in the shower?
Did you have a nickname?
Who inspired you? What did you like to read?
What were your pet peeves?
Summer or Winter? What made you happy?
What personality trait would best describe you?