I know some things just need to be let go of.
Things that seemed like a good idea at the time but were really just dumb.
Letting children lay in the back window of the car while cruising down the highway at 60 mph.
Giving a pregnant woman castor oil to induce labor.
Feeding your infant rice cereal in the bottle and clipping the nipple hole bigger to let it flow out easily.
Some things are just not things we need to hang on to.
Pink fuzzy toilet lid covers and the matching set of floor rugs, tank covers, and corresponding towel sets all rank up there with too much hairspray in the whole needing to go list. How could anyone miss them you might ask? Other than the fact they are UGLY– the germ factor is a huge turn off. Can you imagine how much bacteria those fuzzy little marvels harbor from dirty hands, misplaced squirts, and general use. Makes your stomach take a roll just considering it. And yet I miss those things.
Before you get too worried, it’s not the actual pink fuzz that holds a nostalgic thought for me. No, it is the memory behind the fuzzy creation.
The memory of my grandma’s house. A house where everything was expected to be good, right, and beautiful. A place where everyday elegance was celebrated. A house where hard work was displayed with comfortable things. A house where love was built by saving one dollar at a time.
My grandma married young – way too young by today’s standards, at the age of 15 to an older man who had arrived on her parents’ farm as a day worker. After a season of flailing pecans, my then 25-year-old grandfather had caught her eye and talked her daddy into allowing them to marry. Life was hard for them. Not hard like our lives, no I mean really hard. Grandpa had grown up in a dirt-poor family of 13 kids, while Grandma was the oldest sister in an equally poor household of eight kids. Both families eked out a living by farming and doing odd jobs, anything they could do to put food on the table. My grandmother quickly decided her life would be different. She would work to make it different.
When the fall of 1940 rolled around, the draft was enacted for all men of fighting age. My grandfather was one of those men. He was placed on a ship and sent to Japan for the duration of the war. He left behind his young wife to make a living during his absence. Due to their large family background, they had opted to wait to start their own family. Instead, my grandma chose to be a working woman. She became a “Rosie Riveter”, one of the women who stepped into the workforce and picked up the jobs now vacant due to all the men being gone.
During the time Grandpa was overseas, Grandma moved back home with her parents and younger siblings. She paid them rent which helped their family and allowed her a safe place to live for a young war bride. During this time, she saved every penny Grandpa sent back home from his military pay. She lived solely on her own earnings. When the war ended, Grandma had saved enough to buy a small home with cash money. While not elaborate, Grandma set out to making her home elegant.
She often searched the junkyard for cast-off furniture that she could recover and refurbish to outfit her home adequately, a practice similar to us stopping and picking up someone else’s cast-offs from their trash pile on big junk day. Grandma knew how to take a dime and squeeze a dollar from it. She wasn’t a great cook, but her baking skills still hold a sweet memory in my taste buds. Her coconut cream pie, German chocolate cake, and her Christmas fudge were all sweet reminders of her love mixed together and served to her family with pride.
That pink fuzzy bath set brings my memory straight back to Grandma’s house: back to a time where women took what they had, making it work for their families to live in comfort. Back to a time where it was okay to be feminine and elegant in pillbox hats, gloves, their Sunday best. Were they just show pieces, serving their men and lacking brains? No, the women of the 1940s were working women, feeding their families, and keeping our country together on the home front in the face of severe hardships.
This age of women is quickly dying off. Their time of glory is often hidden in the wrinkles of their faces. Don’t miss your chance to hear their stories; take the time to write them down.
The next time you sit on Grandma’s pink fuzzy dressed toilet, let it be a reminder of the resilience of the women in your life. Let it remind you how a woman can do anything she puts her mind to accomplishing. Let it be a reminder of Grandma’s life story.