Grandma

Maria Placencia

Simply put, my grandmother was a beautiful person.

I spoke a little bit in my previous post about Grandpa how I didn’t really get to know him as a person. I was relatively young when he passed away and we didn’t have a lot of deep conversations. When I was living in Indiana a few years ago, I was determined not to make the same mistake with Grandma.

Grandma and I would sit at her kitchen table and she allowed me to interview about everything. Her childhood, her life as a young mother, her parents, her siblings, her children. When I was talking with Grandma I lost all track of time.

One of my favorite topics of discussion was asking her about growing up in the early part of the 20th century: what she did for fun, how she would listen to the radio, even seeing her first automobile. I also enjoyed talking with her about Dad (whose name is also Ed) and my aunts and uncles.

“What kind of kid was my Dad?”

“Oh, he was always a nice boy. He was always so good.”

Like clockwork Uncle John would call out from the next room, “You always loved Eddie the most, Mama! You should admit I’m your number one son!”

Grandma would laugh and shake her head and in her accented voice say, “Yea, but he doesn’t shout in the house!”

John would then come into the kitchen where we sat, a big smile on his face, and give her a huge hug and say, “I love you, Mama.” Grandma would pat him on the arm and tell him she loved him, too.

A couple of times I told her I wanted to record our conversations on video. She had been sick for quite a while and would always just laugh and say, “Oh Eddie, you don’t want to film me, I look horrible.” The funny thing is, even in the last years of her life, she remained vibrant and beautiful.

That in itself was a testament to how strong she was. She had a rough life for a while and in many respects took care of thirteen kids on her own. When she told me about some of the things she faced I was surprised, mostly because she’s always been so kind, friendly, warm, and caring. If you knew half the things she told me, you’d see that she would have every reason and excuse to be cold and bitter.

But she wasn’t.

When I would ask her how she found the strength to carry on, her answer was always simple: “I had to. What was I gonna do, quit?”

As Grandma got older, it became more and more difficult for her to get around. Just walking from the bedroom to the kitchen would exhaust her. Whenever it came time for the annual family reunion, it was always the same thing. She would tell me she didn’t know if she could go, she’s very weak, she doesn’t want to depress people by being there, she’ll probably stay home. The day of the reunion, there she’d be: sitting in a lawn chair beneath an umbrella and smiling at the rest of us acting like fools. Sometimes she’d be able to stay for an hour or two, sometimes just a few minutes, but she always made the effort.

No matter how Grandma felt physically, she never let that interfere with her love for her family. In fact, there was only one thing that really got her down more than anything else. I would come into the house and she would say hello and greet me with a kiss and I could tell something was wrong.

“What’s wrong Grandma?”

Her brow would be furrowed, she would be rubbing her forehead, and I knew what she was going to say.

“Ohhhhhhh, those Cubs. Why don’t they ever win? Don’t they know I’m rooting for them? I won’t be around much longer, they better start winning.”

Yep, Grandma was a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.

And still the next day, she’d be back in her bedroom, the TV on, and she’d be watching every inning. Of course she would. That was just who she was. Grandma might be upset, be she won’t give up on you. And in my head, I could hear her saying, “What was I gonna do, quit?”

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3 comments

  1. You have a fascinating family! Reminds me of my Dad’s side of the family. Love the posts about your Grandma and Grandpa. I think you did figure out why that “slice of to-ma-to” (said in billy crystal voice impersonating sammy davis) was so special.

    p.s. – :) Thanks for your post!

  2. Hail Mary Placencia full of Grace ,as She is with the Lord . Blessed are thou among women ,and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, John Jr,. Emma, Cathy, Ed, Mary Ann, Dave, Gene, Arn,Rosie , Sue, Alice, Rey,And Rick. There will be times in the lives of us all when we can look back and see how God has used events and especially people to show His love for us and seeking a relationship with us all. The men of the Gideons (as in The Gideon Bible Dudes), shared the Gospel of Christ with me more than several times as i seemed to always end up in their audience. At about the 11th. hour of my life as it was in a downward spiral And one evening while at the Dekalb co. jail As I was about to bunch out a Gideon, these words would stop me like an Ed placencia left hook.”I know your Mother”, This God would use to pause my attitude enough to allow the letters written in red take hold of my mind and seed into my heart, His love !! Mom never gave up on life no matter how difficult. I will cherish all of the alone times mom and I shared and the family times as well. However the final seconds of Her life as She opened her beautiful eyes And looked towards what I,m sure was the gates of heaven and Her Lords open arms , The most spiritual moment of my life with Mom. And Her final request ” I want you to do all you can ,to keep Our family together ” John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. After that he gave to the world my Mother Marie Placencia , thank you God!!!

  3. It is so easy to write about “Mamacita”. However, it’s hard to know where to start and end. I could write a book about my wonderful mother but this will be a small portion. I will skip my first 6 years as this is when we moved to Indana (from Texas).
    My father was working on a major pipe line (Standard Oil) and traveled from Louisiana to its completion in Michigan. My parents fell in love with Indiana because of it’s fertile ground and green trees and fields.
    Mom would take us to the field right after breakfast and help on the farm near Albion, In. We would work morning to evening and she would share stories about her childhood and keep us fascinated by all her experiances.
    At noon she would leave us for a short time and find a shaded area and gather wood to start a fire on the ground. She would prepare a lunch of fried potatoes, refried beans and tortillas. She would call us and then throw her pre-home made tortillas the ashes and we would eat sitting in a circle and the food was so delicious because we knew it was cooked with her hands and the ash remnants on the tortillas looked nasty but just added to the flavor.
    I’ve never forgotten the love of that good food and that was 62 years ago (I swear I can still smell the mouth watering aroma).
    We would go out to the barn on brutally cold winter days and Mom and I would gather some corn then take it in the house and she would grind the maize and make corn tortillas.
    We were so poor, without running water and electricity. We ate the same meal (potatoes, pinto beans, and tortillas) everynight and when I would come in from school or work I would smell her cooking and just relish the fact that we were about to eat again. Honestly, I never got tired of this and we had it 2 times everyday.
    I realized later in life how poor we were and no one in my family had any idea! We had such a happy life that we didn’t realize it till we were older and even then, it was no big thing because Mom said it was not important and Mom’s word was like gospel to all of us.
    Mom was the one that taught us to love the Lord and to be good and to always love one another and up to a shortly before she died she told me to keep the family together, she didn’t want us to have disagreements and hard feeling in the family. I know she realized that was impossible because we each had our own personalities and political beliefs heck, I believe she and Cat were the only democrats so that’s proof right there! One day when I was about 7 I was visiting a friend who lived in the country about a mile away. It was a cold day and the snow was very high. On my way home I decided to take a shortcut across an open field in a 45 dgree angle from the nieghbors, right to our house. I thought wow if I cross this field it was save lots of time (probably the first of my many famous short cuts that turn out to be a bad idea-I still try them).
    Mom later told me she just happened to see me when I left the neighbors and watched my black head bob up and down falling in the snow and getting back up (it was practically waist high to me). She has to tend to the others but she kept coming to the front window and keeping an eye on me. I must have put up a good front because the last time she came to look she couldn’t see me. I was in deep doodoo cause the cold and deep snow had exhausted me and I had fallen about 100 yards from the house. She came looking for me and what a sight I was, she told me later I was all bloody in the face and I had snot and blood frozen all over my face. When I opened my eyes mom was kneelng and weeping beside me and picked me up carried me home. I remember her angelic face crying and telling me I was gonna be ok.
    And,I knew I was going to be ok because Mom’s word was gospel and everyting HAS turned out great. Thank you Eddie, you are doing a great job here! Uncle J

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