Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Will to Live - The Story of Joan Simmons

I was thinking about my beautiful Grandmother today. I reflected on her life from a young girl who lost her mother at a very early age in life, to being one of the youngest of 10 kids, living through the depression. Her family nearly starved during those times. Once she told me she ate coffee grounds, but now she says that never happened. (Hey, I'd block that memory out too!)

She was tossed from home to home - being one of 1o kids without a mother, the kids moved from relative to relative - just looking for someone to care for them when they needed it.

One of many heart wrenching stories she told me was a time when she and her sister Hannah were staying with her older sister Jean. They went off to school and came back to the sister's house to find they had moved. They didn't tell the girls - "oh when you get out of school, we won't be here anymore." They were just gone. No trace or note. My Grandma and Hannah were just kids - where were they supposed to go?? They walked all the way across town to a lady they knew and she helped them for a few days until they found somewhere to stay. Anyone else may have never forgiven that family member - but not my Grandma. Even at her young age, she understood.

I wonder what her dad was doing all this time! I know he had a lot of kids, but is that any excuse for not knowing where your kids are or if they are ok?

There are lots of stories of hardship in her life, but she has always laughed at the circumstances of her early life.

She talks about good times too, singing with her brothers and sisters. They could all harmonize and play piano. I can just see 10 kids standing around a piano singing their hearts out.

There's a story of her brother jumping from a bedroom window and landing on the roof of a car...I think it may have been a convertible and he went right through it - I'll have to have her tell that story again.

She laughs about sleeping with a brick that they put in an oven, which was how they stayed warm during the night.

Even the stories of Christmas - getting an apple as her present, or just a piece of candy, she can still laugh about that. Heck they were just happy to still be alive and together!

She met my Grandpa when she was just a teenager - and was married at 17! My Grandpa loved my Grandma. You could see he was crazy about her. He really must have wanted to rescue her from her circumstances, not that he had much more than she did, but he was making a living as a golf pro at the American Legion Golf Course in Kokomo and had a car. He probably seemed really rich to her back then. He always spoiled her and gave her whatever she wanted. She drove a big Cadillac Eldorado, bought her clothes from Talbots and LaMode (in Kokomo).

In her middle years, she was a hard working lady. She worked around her house tirelessly and raised 4 kids, sometimes without her husband there - he was off building golf courses in some other state or country. When my Grandpa was the golf pro at the Kokomo Country Club, they lived in a tiny little house on the golf course. They moved to Houston, lived in the Bahamas, on Ile Bizzard, Quebec Canada while my Grandpa built the Royal Montreal Golf Club. She got to travel to Europe, Hawaii and all over the U.S.

She's not a saver and she threw everything away to keep her house neat and clean. On one hand that's great, but I'm sure there are treasures I would have loved to have and save from her life.

One time she was moving her washing machine (God only knows why, probably to clean behind it) and dropped it on her little toe!! She nearly cut her toe completely off! Crazy thing. That may have slowed her down but sure didn't stop her!

She and my grandpa survived a terrible car crash in North Carolina (not Florida as I originally thought.)

My mom and I drove to Houston with my Grandma and Grandpa when I was 16. It was a fun trip. We stopped in Kansas to drop off golf course plans then traveled through Arkansas on our way to Houston to see Aunt Jan & fam. That ride though the mountains in Arkansas was comical. My Grandpa driving 90 miles an hour around hairpin, mountain curves. Getting lost and ending up in Noel, Arkansas - where everyone in town looked at us like aliens - we were obviously not locals! My Grandma sat in the back seat with me and made fun of me hiding on the floor and putting my head between my knees when my grandpa's driving got a little too crazy!!! She was used to that maniac, cursing out everyone around us and driving way too fast.

As she's entered her later years in life, her body has slowed, her arthritis became more of a factor, even though she had been diagnosed with it it as a very young woman. She just can't do as much anymore. Her mind is still really sharp and her sense of humor is fully intact. She laughs at how old she is and how she's cheated death a few times.

My Grammy still loves getting a new purse and getting her hair done on Friday's. She loves to look at the Talbots catalog and she's reading the Bible, all the way through again, that's at least the second time, maybe third. She wouldn't think of missing a golf tournament when Tiger Woods is playing and Judge Judy? Well let's just say, don't drop by, call or even think about my Grandma when Judge Judy is on!

So here she is, 93 years old. As beautiful as ever.

In the last few years, she's had a couple of scares and we almost lost her.

As ready as she probably is to go to Heaven, that sense of survival always kicks into this gal when her body is in crisis. Her will to live is strong and she pulls through even the gravest of health scares. I really think it's just instinct, at this point, from her earlier years. After all she's been through, it just comes natural for her to be a fighter. She doesn't know anything else.

God didn't know what he created when he made my Grandma. He never thought how tough it would be to get this girl to enter the pearly gates. Thank Heavens for that instinct she has - otherwise, I probably wouldn't have her right now.

I feel so lucky to be 46 years old and still have a Grandma. How on earth did I get so lucky to have her in my life?

If there's anything my sweet and funny Meemo has taught me, it's to keep a positive attitude regardless of the circumstances, fight, fight, fight and never ever, ever give up. But more than anything, my Grandma has not only taught me, but also showed me, laugh your way through life and you'll live a very long, happy one!

She's a special person and I'm very thankful she's my Grandma!


Jen said...

Love, love, love this blog post!

I never knew she and Poppy were in a bad car accident in Florida? I'll have to have her tell me about that.

I love my Grammy! We are all truly blessed to still have her. Thank you, Lord!

enN2sp said...

I Thank God for meemo/Grammy everyday.

She is the only grandparent I have. Even though she is my grandma by marriage I don't feel that, I feel that she is MY Meemo/Grammy, forever.

She is also the only Great Grandma to o-person & TapEear.

We LOVE her so much.

Cindarella said...

I can't read this without crying. There are volumes that could be written about my Mother and her family. They starved together, laughed together, harmonized around the old grand piano together, vacationed together and took care of each other till death parted them one by one. The way I see it, they were the greatest family of the greatest generation! What an awesome family reunion to look forward to in Heaven!

alli-gal said...

Wow. This brought tears to my eyes.

I think about Grammy and the things she has been through often. In fact reminding myself that "it could be worse" often turns to images of Grammy's life when she was younger. I'm glad she has been able to share with us the joys and turmoils that she has been through. Without even knowing it, she has molded us all into loving, caring and thoughtful people. None of us would be who we are today without our Grammy.

Thank you Andrea....I didn't know about the car accident either. I will printing a copy of this out to save forever..

Andrea said...

When my mom printed this and showed it to Grammy, what did she do?? She laughed so hard she cried! So very typical! :)

Jill said...

That was a great story about our precious Grammy/Mom! I asked her last night if she loved Daddy when she married him and she said..."I loved his car"! That is very typical of her humor. It's sad to think about her childhood but that's what moulded her into the kind, loving, funny, strong person she is today. I thank God every day for my Mom. She is special!