Yesterday would have been my Grandma Heinzman’s 101st birthday. Amazing.
When she was born, the 20th century was a new idea, automobiles were a newfangled thing and women still wore long skirts. Not long after her birth, World War I began and life for our country would never be the same. Life for my grandma would never be the same after her own mother died when she was three years old.
Despite hardship (two of my mother’s siblings were born during the depression) and losing her husband when he was in his early 50’s, my grandma raised six kids and never lost her faith in God or in humanity.
I knew her as the loving grandma whose condominium smelled of rising bread dough, and who played a pretty mean game of pinochole. She taught me and all of my 12 cousins to play every card game she knew and every dice game she could remember including my favorites, Yahtzee and Kismet.
She was the kind of grandma whose home-cooked meals are still in my sensory memory. There was nothing quite like her chicken and dumplings and to this day, I wish I could make gravy like her.
I remember her “grandma-isms”. A couch was a davenport, and a purse was a pocketbook, and the vacuum was a “vack-um”. When I complained about a rain, snow or inclement weather in general, she would say, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That would stop me in my tracks – how do you respond to that?
This is the same grandma who continually gave rides to the same hitchhiking teen every week. Horrified, I asked her why on earth she would pick up a hitchhiker, even though we lived in a relatively safe city. She would just say that she knew that hitchhiker was a good girl and it was better that she pick her up than someone else. She also told the girl just that every time she let her off at her requested destination.
I can still see the picture of Jesus that hung by her front door and the pictures of every one of her children and grandchildren on the opposite wall or scattered throughout her living room. In one small room, one could determine what meant most to her in life.
To honor that, I named my daughter after her so that we could remember her as the years go by. And, the day before her 101st birthday, my brother and his wife had their first child. That baby would be Doris Rachel’s 16th great-grandchild. I know she would have been proud.
She would have thanked God for her blessings, just like I thank God for having had her as my grandma.