My friend Deanna Lagroix is today’s Guest Blogger. As a teacher, she wrote many class plans and memos… over the years, she wrote letters to friends and she kept a journal. Now Deanna is writing stories about her well-lived life… she shares this one with us today:
It was a nightly ritual. Grandma was the last one to leave the kitchen at the end of the day. She would have cleaned off the table after making and serving supper for “the men” who’d come in from finishing the evening chores at the barn. Grandpa and my two unmarried uncles would carry in an armload of wood for the wood box, wash up and come to table. Conversation was limited and they would then retire to read or doze on the sofa while Grandma washed the dishes, reset the table and made the preparations for the early-morning breakfast. The small cistern attached to the large wood stove was topped up with water that was kept heated for all the household needs and, of necessity, it was usually Grandma’s task to feed wood into that stove.
In the early 1950’s I lived for a year on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa and attended the rural one-room school that my mother and her siblings had attended decades earlier. As the autumn evenings turned to the darker onset of winter, the lanterns were lit to guide the men to and from the barn and Grandma would check the oil and the wicks as she lit the indoor lamps on the table and the sideboard.
When the questions about my homework were answered and the discussions over the market prices for pork or beef concluded, we all prepared to retire. Grandma would blow out the extra lamps and after one last look around she’d take up “her” lamp, make her way upstairs to the bedroom and place it on her dresser. She would remove the hairpins holding the coiled bun on the back of her head, allowing her thinning grey hair to cascade down her back, then don her flannel nightie and stretch to relax that tired body.
Back at the dresser, she’d bless herself with the holy water collected at Church and say out loud, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul” and then would turn and blow out the lamp to end her day.
I am the fortunate grandchild who inherited the lamp and it honours my home on the mantle of the fireplace. Grandma, Annie MacLean MacCulloch, died in 1957 at the age of seventy-two. I have reached that age this year and her spirit and her love live with me still.