Monday, May 11, 2009

'Dirge Without Music'

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts

in the hard ground

So it is and so it will be, for so it has been,

time out of mind:

Into the darkness they go,

the wise and the lovely.


With lilies and with laurel they go;

but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.

Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.

A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,

A formula, a phrase remains,--but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look,

the laughter, the love,--

They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses.

Elegant and curled

In the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know.

But I do not approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes

than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

My grandma Iris passed away on Saturday morning.

She was 97.

She became my grandma when I was 3....and one has never felt so loved or safe as when wrapped in the arms of that lady.

Grandma was born in 1912 and experienced more things in her life than you or I could in two.

Story goes that she met my grandad when she was 14....quite young by today's standards, but in those days, not so. My grandad, on the other hand, was 24 when they met....I can remember when a few of us cousins made the connection and started teasing Grandad about being a 'dirty old man'....he just smiled and said, "You didn't know Grandma back then."

I'm still not sure how to take that and once when I mentioned it to her,

she just smiled.

Grandma and Grandad were from the times of working hard all week and then everyone getting together in someone's barn on Saturday to play music and dance. Grandad played fiddle and Grandma danced.

Of course, Grandad always said that "Grandma really couldn't dance very well, but boy, could she intermission." (We all still laugh about that...can you imagine...telling your grandkids that about their grandmother?!?! Grandad Vess was a funny man!!)

They loved each other and thought the other hung the moon...I'm thinking that feeling never went away..even after Grandad passed away thirty-some years ago.

Grandma and Grandad raised 5 children--1 daughter and 4 sons--in a tiny, 4-room house (with a "scenic route" to the toilet and shower in the well house!!) waaaaay out in the country.

Growing up and spending so much time out there, we didn't really think of that house as being so small....but as adults, going there and seeing the old house is almost shocking...that so many women could fit in that kitchen, making some of THE most delicious meals anyone has ever eaten....that the 2 bedrooms (with very little walking space around the beds) would be the coat-room, baby room and play room for the 21 grandchildren that the Hutches family was blessed with and various other relatives from one side or the other.

When it was time to sat in any open space you could find.
For us kids, it was usually on the floor...or outside on the porch.

We all have wonderful memories of Grandma...some of them are woven together with someone else's...and others are just our own.

When I would go home in the summer, she and I would drive down to Amarillo to see my dad and his wife. I would drive her boat big, red Cadillac and we would talk about so many different things in the time it would take to get there.

One particular trip, she started telling me about life during the Dust Bowl Days. Her voice was filled with so much emotion as she spoke of how hard it was and what all they had to do and how scary it was at times and always how frustrating it was.

Through her words, I realized the strength it took to survive that incredible time in our she spoke, I found myself with a lump in my throat and the sudden urge to reach over and just hug her.

But...since I was driving and couldn't really do that, I just reached across the seat and took her hand....she clutched it and as she continued to speak, she rubbed her thumb across my fingers.

"It was just a different time."

I asked her if she and Grandad had ever thought of leaving...of starting over somewhere else.

"Where would we go? That was 'home' and we knew it was going to get better."

And they were right.

Ever since my mom told me about Grandma passing away, I have been overwhelmed with emotions and memories. All day long, anytime a class slowed down a bit or there was a moment or two of time to myself, she...was who I thought of.

I was looking forward to seeing her again this sitting on the floor, next to her chair and talking with her, like I usually did. The boys remember her well....Issei calls her "the soft Grandma". The loved to explore around her house...inside and out.

Each visit, she would always tell me "You need to come home."
But, she tried to understand why I didn't.

Grandma is....

(among a host of other things)

*homemade biscuits....that are actually made with Bisquick...."that is just so much easier and tastes almost the same." I have her old biscuit cutter and think of her each time I make my "real" ones!!

*rose milk hand cream.
She used to have some on the window ledge, above the kitchen sink and she would use it when she was finished doing dishes. Even today, the smell of roses will remind me of her.

*butterscotch pie.
Each of us has a favorite dessert....and Grandma was good about always having someone's favorite (or three) on the counter in her kitchen. Mine is her butterscotch pie....something that resembles caramel pie in recipe books. I say "resembles" because I don't think she ever really used the recipe...she was one of those "if it feels like enough" kind of cooks...which was really frustrating for those of us wanting to learn to cook like her!

On Sunday, I got out the recipe from the family cookbook for her pie....since I haven't made a decent pie crust since Christmas, 1996 (and that was with her help over the phone!!), I decided to forgo the tears and just make pudding.

I have to was good....not quite to Grandma's standards, but...pretty close.

Actually, Grandma's butterscotch pie is quite popular and at a family reunion a few years ago there was an incident of a missing pie.

I don't know what happened. I saw nothing.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

(And for the record, my cousin Gail and I just happened to find the missing pie before anyone else snooze, you loose around the Hutches crew!!)

*Sunday dinner with the following basics:

ham or fried chicken

roast beef

some kind of potato


brown beans

and in the summer....sliced cucumbers and onions with half & half and vinegar.

*never actually sitting down to a meal

Only when she got when she was in her 80's...did I ever see her sit down at a family dinner...she was always right there though, ready to help anyone if they needed it, or to get something or to refill a bowl or dish.


In this family, there is myself and a few others that were not born into the Hutches family, we were just lucky enough to have mothers to marry into it. Yet, I cannot remember a time that we were not "Charles' daughter" or "Vess' kids"....we were always family.

This with the addition of about 50 great-grandchildren and quite a few great-great-grandkids thrown in...will miss Grandma terribly.

We loved her so much....the next reunion, in July, will be hard for us.
My Uncle Vess (my Dad's oldest brother) also passed away this year making it doubly sad for everyone.

But....the love we have for each other and our faith in all that is right, will help us through this....because...that is the way we are...that's how we were raised.
It may just take me a little longer...I'll feel better when I get "home"...with the people I love most family.

In loving memory of Grandma Hutches.

Grandad Vess and Grandma Iris....

May they rest in peace....but still go dancing on Saturday night.


smalltownmom said...

That was a beautiful tribute to a great woman. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Sojourner said...

I am sorry for your loss. The Edna St. Vincent Milay poem was perfect! And I agree with smalltownwoman, that was a beatiful tribute.

Grandma's make the world go 'round in my book. I lost my Nana Pescione in 1992, she was 75 and died of lung cancer. She was a very sweet lady who could cook like nobody's business! She was sad as long as I can remember though. My Nana Tarantino passed last year at age 95. She was a woman of the world who worked for the Schrafft's candy company, loved to travel and play cards. Life just isn't the same without them though.

3rdEyeMuse said...

what an amazing tribute to a woman that has obviously etched herself deeply into your heart. moving. heartfelt. lovely.

thank you for sharing her with us. my heart aches with yours & am certain she's happy to be dancing with your grandad again.

phd in yogurtry said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I had a "soft grandma" too and it was really hard when she died. So I do understand a little bit, I think.

But on the upside, it doesn't get any better than this. To live a long, full and sometimes really hard life, but to have a granddaughter write a heartfelt tribute. She must have been one loving lady.

AP said...

I'm so sorry Deb. My heart goes out to you.

Anonymous said...

I learned of your grandma's passing on Sunday. TJ Greg's oldest worksin the nursing home and he said she had passed. He has only known her a short time but really enjoyed her. Grandma's are the most "SPECIAL" people in the world. Your cookie cutter reminds me of the meat tenderizer my Granny had that I mashed peanut butter cookies with as a child. And of course it was her own recipe. Sending your heartfelt blessings and hugs to you and all. Take care and keep the fond memories in your heart. Grandma's are always watching over us.
Luv Ya, Shellie

The Girl Next Door said...

I am so sorry for your loss - what a wonderful, heartful tribute. I feel like I know her. She really is from a Lost Era we will all miss. I hope your grandparents are enjoying their Intermission! (What a hoot he obviously was!)

Janet said...

Debbie, thanks for sharing your grandmother with I suspected, she sounded like quite a woman!

This line in the poem made me tear up: "More precious was the light in your eyes / than all the roses in the world."

Mommy2Twinkies-Deb said...

That was lovely. I am so sorry for your loss, Debbie. I really feel for you. I lost my Grandma, a year and a half ago, and it feels like yesterday. She sounds like she was a wonderful lady. Keep her memories alive!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

"The soft grandma." Wow.

This was beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss.

Ciara said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, your kind tribute touched me deeply. I never really knew my Grandparents I would have loved to have known yours.

musingwoman said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

>>>Grandma really couldn't dance very well, but boy, could she intermission.<<<

That made me smile. Seems your grandma was a "real corker," as my grandma used to say (rest her soul).


hulagirlatheart said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful post in memory of her. I loved it!

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful lady. I love that you want them to rest in peace and still go dancing on Saturday night...such a nice sentiment.

My grandma is 96 and I am so blessed to still be able to talk with her on the phone and visit her a few times a year....such good memories. We are the lucky someone so special for so long in our life.
Take care, Suz

Cid said...

What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. Her's was a generation that can never be replaced. They lived through so much. I love that "she could do intermission," my grandfather told us that our's was "always the aggressor."

Ginaagain said...

Debbie, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your Grandma sounds like a wonderful lady.

jan in nagasaki said...

oh, deb.

that's so nice.