Sitting in the sun, watching the water of the Willamette flow under the Broadway Bridge, Grandmother comes to mind. As some often do at the beginning of an ending, I think about those that came before me, those that made my reality possible.
Aundria Marie Newman was born December 6, 1918. Meeting her one would never know what hard times she overcame, from deep poverty and an abusive step-mother. She embodied true joy and love throughout her life. Gratitude and appreciation for the small things.
She and my grandfather, Carl Dewey Newman (Pop), saved every penny they could to ensure a better future for their future grandchildren. They started saving for my education before my parents even met. I remember at my college graduation how sad I was with Pop gone and Grandmother too old to attend. I remember feeling the weight of joy and gratitude.
While in my 20s my mom found a picture of Grandmother in her 20s, we look like twins. December babies. She had a quick smile and a marvelous laugh. That was one of her favorite words, marvelous. Oh and wonderful too, she loved wonderful.
She told great stories. The first time she had pizza. Her travels with my mom in Europe. She exemplified the art and grace of laughing at yourself. I remember her pulling her suitcase out of her bedroom, ready to head back home to Tennessee, and her overcome with laughter as she realized she had put on her hose, but had forgotten her pants. She laughed the hardest out of all of us.
Every time we visited her at the nursing home, after the Alzheimers set in, she said, “Amy, isn’t this the most wonderful place?” Always the optimist, always wanting to have the best time in any situation. What fun.
Root beer floats. Cheerios. Cornbread. Green Beans.
We celebrated her 90th birthday together. Waking up the next day, she told my mom, “I don’t remember what I did yesterday, but I know I had fun!”
A love for education was deeply engrained in Grandmother and Pop. Without a high school degree my grandfather was able to succeed in many ways, including bringing compassion to business and positive change to his community. They taught me the value of education, hard work, and working together.
So, today, I am thinking about Grandmother. Today marks three years after she passed. I can still hear her laughter, taste her famous chicken sandwiches. I will continue to think about the strong women that have come before me. The women that laid the foundation for my success.