Thursday, July 28, 2011

Memories of a Grandmother. by Sar

My grandmother is one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. I never had to say "grandma Irene" or "Grandma Mulder" because she was my only grandparent I was ever close with. I never knew either of my grandfathers, and within the past few years I've begun to know my dad's mom. But in terms of my childhood and memories, she is my only grandma.

One year ago today, she died. Because her death was so close to my wedding, (a week and a half prior) sometimes I worry that I didn't grieve in the way I might have needed to. Sometimes I still cry (not in a bad way) when I think about her (like right now). To celebrate my gram, I want to share some stories and memories I have of her.

When I was little, maybe like 3 or 4, my gram had a poodle named Pierre. It sounds cute, but he was the devil. I was petrified of Pierre. I can distinctly remember that Pierre the poodle came up to my waist (so I must have been really young). One time when I was over at my grandma's house, she gave a piece of bologna to snack on. Since Pierre was the perfect height, he snatched my bologna right out of my little hand. I was heartbroken (and petrified). My gram went to the fridge, got another piece of bologna, took me over the couch, and let me eat my new piece of bologna in her lap.

This next story takes place, again, when I was little. As long as I can remember my grandma has had dentures. To this day, I have no idea why. Did her real teeth fall out? Did she hate the way they looked? I don't know...anyways. My gram used to entertain me by taking her dentures out. The idea that someone could remove their teeth was outrageous to me. I thought my grandma was magic.

Once, gram and I were driving in her car and we stopped at a 4-way stop. I wasn't paying much attention, but I started to get really annoyed when she didn't go through the stop sign. We sat there for a good 30 seconds before I asked what we were doing. She said (in her super thick Southern accent), "I think there's money in the road. Get out and see." So I got out of the car and walked to the middle of the intersection. a $20 bill was just laying there. She let me keep it.

My grandma loved to fish. But she didn't like to go alone. In the summers during high school, I would take her up to Lake Erie, we'd get some bait, and then we'd sit on the pier and fish for hours. We didn't really talk--she wasn't much of a talker--we just sat together and hoped for a bite.

In college, my grandma would randomly call me. There was no rhyme or reason for the call. And they would never last for more than two minutes. She would just call me to say hi. She would (unknowingly) always end the call with, "Alright, well I love you baby."

The summer she died, I took her grocery shopping a couple of times. However, we couldn't go to the super Walmart in Norwalk. She didn't like the people who greet the customers at the door. She said they were snobs. So I would drive her up to Sandusky (a town 15 miles away) to go to the Meijer. She liked the people better there. She would go around on one of those buggie things and I would get the groceries out the freezer and off the shelves for her.

During big thunderstorms, she would ask my mom and I to go over to her house and keep her company. She hated bad weather. She also kept a cool, damp washcloth with her dab her face if she got too hot.

We made plans for me to go over to her house and have a baked potato.

Irene Mulder was a loud, kind, honest, loving, modest, strong woman. My grandma was a loud woman. She was not afraid to raise her voice to tell you what she thought. For most of my life, she swore like a sailor. Seriously. I'm not lying. My grandma cared for people. She cared for her family, neighbors, and complete strangers. She wasn't afraid to tell you what she thought. But then once she voiced her opinion, she would let people go on with their lives. She didn't pester...much. She loved. She loved anyone and everyone and Jesus. When my sister talked with her about her faith, my grandma said, "I believe in Jesus. I've tried to live a good life. If I had a biscuit and my neighbor didn't, well, I'd share mine." Her faith and love was simple, but strong. Gram didn't have a lot. She grew up in the hollers of West Virginia and when she was really young, her mama died in a car crash. She and her siblings basically raised themselves and relied on each other for everything. Her life was not easy. She went through and overcame so many obstacles in life. She was strong.

Gram (on the right) with her older sister Betty Jane
You want to know something? I have my grandmother's eyes. The exact. same. eyes. And that makes me feel special. Like, a visible part of her is with/in me. I hope one of my kids get her eyes, too.


  1. Lovely tribute, Sarah. And seriously. You look scarily like your grandma. At first I thought it *was* you in some kind of crazy old-fashioned photo shoot.

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  3. Becky-Thanks! And I KNOW! It's frightening. Our noses and jaws are different, but because our eyes are so similar we look so much alike. Uncanny.


  4. For a second, I thought the same as well. It's not just her eyes that you have. And well, that description of her as being "loud, kind, honest, loving, modest, strong" -- I think you have a lot of that in you from what I've see, even though I've not spent much time with you. And you are certainly not afraid to voice your opinion.

    Those are some lovely memories of your grandmother, Sarah :) I think that's one of the best things that can be said about anyone... That the loved, and that they knew how to love.

    She sounds like she was an extraordinary woman.

  5. Thank, Preeti. You're so sweet : )


  6. This is beautiful Sarah, I'm glad you have so many fun stories that help keep your grandma close to you!

  7. I don't know how I missed this. what a sweet post and such endearing stories.

    and how you think your eyes are all you have in common is bizarre. Seriously look in the mirror and recite, "Good morning, Gram!!"

  8. I'll get right on that, Jo : )