Sep 6, 2011

Memories of Grandma

My grandmother, Winona Wonnacott, passed away last week. I spent the weekend in St. George where the funeral was held. She was a beautiful, creative, witty, hard-working, loving woman and I (along with the rest of her impressive number of posterity) will treasure her memory for the rest of my life.

When I was a very young child, Grandma and Grandpa Wonnacott were a house more than they were people. When told we were going to visit Grandma and Grandpa, I'd ask, "the stairs ones?" My hometown of Ridgecrest, CA is a small town with very few 2+-story buildings, and as silly as it seems now, at the time the #1 best reason to go to St George, UT was Grandma and Grandpa had a house with stairs and the possibilities of games you could play on those things were endless.

As I got a little older, the house and yard were also endless. While it is a somewhat large house (5 bed, 3 bath) on a decent bit of land, the imagination of youth expanded this to something of near mythical characteristics (There are four different doors to the backyard! The stuff of legends!). These childhood impressions last; even at the age of 24, I still have dreams about going to that house and discovering rooms I'd never seen before or hidden gardens in the yards.

And all so tastefully decorated! As I grew old enough to notice such things, I definitely recognized Grandma was the kind of woman who really took pride in making things look good. Many of my memories of Grandma involve helping in the gardens or with various home improvement projects. She was a hard-working woman who could make a lot out of a little. At the funeral, a couple of my aunts shared memories of her always finding old furniture to reupholster and/or refinish. And rocks! She'd always take home big rocks she'd come across that were interesting colors or shapes and find some way to incorporate them into her yards.

A couple years ago, Trevor and I stayed at Grandma and Grandpa Wonnacott's house on our way back from Christmas with my family in California. While I've seen her at various family functions since, this was the last time I had any significant one-on-one time with her. She decided to skip church that morning and just sit and chat with us for a good long while. She told us the story of her courtship with Grandpa (met and got married during various home leaves as he was in the military during WWII). Her version had a lot to do with how she looked (what she was wearing, whether or not she had lipstick on), which I loved (I may have inherited this tendency to focus my stories on these important details). The best bit of their story is on the day of their first date, Grandpa asked her "Now you're going to do your hair before the dance tonight aren't you?" and Grandma responded "Of course! You don't think you'll be the only fella there, do you?"

Grandma and Grandpa had a sweet long-lasting relationship that gives me hope that there is such thing as lasting love. They were always supportive of each other and making each other laugh during their 66 years of marriage.

She was one of the kindest people I've ever known; her house was open to anyone who needed a meal or a place to stay, and she always took the time to let all of us know how much she loved us.

She wasn't just a ball of love all the time, though. She was also a fiery woman. The frustration she would exhibit trying to get her hair curled right or trying to keep her plants alive or watching BYU sports during a bad game was kind of adorable (old woman anger is hilarious). She had a great passion for the things that were important to her, something I'd really like to emulate in my too-often wishy-washy passive life.

She was a good woman, and I will miss seeing her, but the love I still feel from her will stay with me. I'm grateful to come from the good stock that I do and have her example in my life.

Also, note to my siblings: I call the name Winona for my firstborn daughter.


Diane/Mom said...

What a lovely tribute Andrea. The tears I keep thinking will stop, because I really am happy for her and the good life that she lived, still keep coming. We will all miss her. I will be forever trying to do things as well as her. I am so grateful to have known her.

Betty said...

What a beautiful and touching post...I'm so sorry for your loss; my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family...

Kimberley said...

I only met your wonderful Grandma Wonnacott at your and Trevor's reception, but I feel in love with her! What a great lady! Thank you for sharing just a little bit of what she means to you. Big hugs for you...I am grateful that you are my DIL!

Cassie said...

Yes, yes, and yes to everything you said.

Marisa said...

I am with Cassie on that one. She was amazing!

Nathan said...

I forgot about how they used to be "The grandma and grandpa with stairs." That used to be my favorite part about St George.

As I've thought about her life, it's really inspired me to be a better person. She sort of set a high standard for the rest of us.