Monday, March 22, 2010

Goodbye, Grandma

My Grandma, passed away Friday, March 12

Lenora Mable Logan Bechtel, my Grandma, the strongest woman I’ve ever known, all 5 foot, 105 pounds of her. Even at half that weight in her last days, her strength was still seen. No one could understand how anyone that small could hang on so long. How did she do it?

Grandma was a petite, gentle, soft spoken lady, but she ruled her roost, in a loving but strong way that only she could get away with. She was definitely the matriarch of our family.

Grandma was a sister for 93 years, a wife for almost 74 years, a mother for almost 73 years, a grandmother for 52 years, a great grandmother for 29 years, and a great great grandmother for 5-1/2 years. She was my role model, and if I live as long as she did I will still not be able to achieve the perfection that she was in these roles.

As long as I can remember she was always the perfect grandma. She was caring and loving and I loved going to Grandma’s perfect house to visit. She would make the simplest of lunches for me that only she could prepare in just her own perfect way, not only the way her food tasted but her presentation. Simple but elegant. Austin reminded me last night how she would cut up an apple for he and Brandon and serve it to them in a little dish with little cocktail forks to eat it with. She was that way in every thing she did. I wanted to be just like her.

When I moved to DuBois as a new, young wife, I watched the relationship of a more mature marriage of about 43 years between Grandma and Grandpa. At that point I couldn’t relate. They didn’t fight, they did everything together, they didn’t travel much anymore and they went to the mall every Tuesday night and ate dinner at Valley Dairy. I thought, “How boring”. Why don’t they go somewhere? Why don’t they go out more often with friends? Why don’t they go to a movie, or go to New Year’s Eve parties? How boring their life is. But guess what? As my marriage is coming up on 31 years and I now have a marriage closer to the 43 year mark than newlywed, I understand, admire, and look at the 73 year marriage of Grandma and Grandpa as the guide to live by. If only Bob would listen as well to me as Grandpa listened to Grandma.

Then I had children of my own. My grandma now became a great grandma. Again, the perfect great grandma. Since I worked, she helped raise my young active boys. I know now that I took this a little for granted. She was so good at it and made it look so easy. My boys always behaved so much better for her than for me. And even when they spent a whole day or a whole weekend with her, Grandma’s house still remained clean and perfect. How did she do it?

And now that I have grandchildren of my own and I have two grandsons that come to visit and spend a day or a weekend, I say even louder in my head, “how did Grandma do it?” I now know and understand the love she had for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. But I don’t know how she did it all with such perfection and ease.

And all of us here know how beautiful Grandma always looked. She took such good care of herself, inside and out. She was healthy, ate well, stayed slim, and liked to take walks. She died of old age, with no disease in her body. She didn’t smoke and enjoyed only a glass of wine every once in a while. When she would come to my house for dinner or to celebrate a holiday or a birthday, she would always sit in my kitchen while I prepared dinner and I would pour us each a glass of wine and we would talk. If I asked Grandpa if he would like a glass of wine she would say, “Oh, he doesn’t need that”. So in later years, when my boys were adults, they would sneak him glasses of wine when Grandma wasn’t looking.

Grandma dressed beautifully and loved buying clothes. As a young girl, I remember her always taking me with her to the old PT store. She really missed that store when it went out. Then JC Penney became her new haunt. If she wasn’t buying new clothes in the mall store while Grandpa sat on a bench in front of the store talking to everyone he knew, then she was scouring the catalog for every size 6 petite that she could find. I always remember Grandma wearing beautiful blouses, with a blazer sporting a different brooch or pin on the collar of each and every one. And she never missed a week of getting her hair done. Even up to the last week of her life.

Anyone that had ever been in Grandma’s house knows how perfect and clean it was. Still according to Grandma’s style of simple and elegant. Again, I don’t know how she did it. She would buy new carpeting about every five years and the old carpeting still looked brand new. She would dust every single morning. She would tell us women in the family that if you dusted every day then your house would never get dusty! You couldn’t argue with that. A funny story that shows how meticulous she was: In Grandma’s later years she developed macular degeneration and her eyesight got worse and worse to the point that she really couldn’t see much at all. But yet Mom and I would be amazed at how she could keep her house so clean. Mom and I were younger and a little more physically fit (not much) and we had good eyesight, but we never felt like our houses ever came close to being as clean and perfect as Grandma’s. How did she do it? Well, one day my dad stopped over at Grandma and Grandpa’s and noticed cheerios all over the dining room floor and he asked Grandma what happened. He assumed Grandpa had maybe dropped the box of cheerios. But Grandma said that she was vacuuming and that was how she could tell where she had already run the vacuum. If she couldn’t hear the pinging of the cereal being sucked up into the vacuum then she knew that area was clean. See, there is just no excuse according to Grandma.

Grandma was and is my role model, as my mother and Jane told me she was for them, too. She was the perfect wife, mother, and grandmother. She was what I strive to be. Even if I live another 40 years I know I can never achieve her perfection. Lenora Mabel Logan Bechtel, my Grandma, was a breed of woman that unfortunately doesn’t exist much any more. And that’s a shame. Her quiet strength, her beauty, her love and her presence will be truly missed. I am just lucky that she was my Grandma.


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