SALT OF THE EARTH
This is a story about an extraordinary woman who taught me about love and the true meaning of never giving up. Mary Rustine Transue was my grandmother. Some of my memories have faded, but those that have attached themselves to my heart are still bright and clear.
First, a little background. Mary was born on January 31, 1886. She married Amzi Transue in the year, 1902. Together they had fifteen children. My mother was number 14. Mary loved her family, and even though times were hard, she always found a way to help others. During the Great Depression, Mary always put an extra potato or two in the pot, just in case a family member or stranger needed a hot meal. She baked bread daily, sometimes twice a day for her family. I can only imagine the wonderful aroma wafting throughout her home. To help her family, Mary baked and sold molasses crumb pies. I heard they were delicious. In 1942, Amzi died and left Mary to pick up the reins of her ever-growing family.
Fast forward to 1948, the year I was born. The year that started a unique journey with a woman I called Memmy.
One of the memories that live in my heart happened when I was around four or five. Memmy was staying with her son in Easton. I used to visit with her for an hour or so, but on one day I got to spend the whole day, which included lunch. As we ate our sandwiches, she looked at me and called me her little pigeon. She told me she could have chosen any kind of bird that flew, however, the pigeons were special. Memmy explained that some pigeons were trained to carry messages to people. Sometimes the pigeons would return with answers, and sometimes they stayed where they were. I, her little pigeon, would take her love with me, and when I returned, I would bring my love back to her. Little did she know that her little pigeon still carries that love for her.
We saw a lot of Memmy in the summer. She would come and help my mother can the most delicious fruits and vegetables. Memmey would wear her house dress and carry her apron ready to pitch in. One summer, they put up over 700 jars. I need to mention that she was always prepared to help her family in their time of need or if a new baby was ready to be born. Although Memmy usually wore a housedress, I remember her in a dark navy-blue dress with small white polka dots, a single strand of ivory pearls adorned her neck. She loved costume jewelry and wore a piece or two when visiting. Memmy went without many things raising her family, and seeing her receive unique gifts always made me happy.
One thing that always amazed me was her ability to smile even when her heart was broken. She experienced a lot of loss over the years, and yet she carried on with grace. She never gave up on anyone or herself. Her step was quick, a trait my mother insists that I inherited from her. Lucky for me!
I am sure that there are a few more memories just dying to float up and make their appearance, but for now, I’ll just say that Memmy was the salt of the earth. I was twelve when she made her journey to heaven. Oh, how my mother cried and cried. When it was my mother’s turn to take her final journey, I believe that Memmy was there with open arms ready to take her daughter to her new home.
Some lessons I learned from my grandmother were to love unconditionally, forgive those who hurt you, and always make a difference. One of her favorite things to say was, ” It doesn’t cost anything to smile!” To this day, I can still hear that beautiful message.
What is your favorite memory of your grandmother?