Wednesday, October 9, 2013

G is for Grandma

 My mother dedicated her life to giving her children (and subsequently her grandchildren) everything her own childhood lacked. She rebelled from her family, deciding religion and education were her answer to changing the family cycle. She sacrificed to send me and my older brother to a private university. Now that she has several darling grandchildren, she wants to continue her love affair with learning, both secular and spiritual. My daughter turned eight this past year, old enough to pass the age restriction on the biannual conference held by my church. Tickets are free but limited to only 20,000 (out of 15 million worldwide members). 
So off we went...

 At my urging, my mother shopped for new clothes (she insists on helping her family dress well but neglects herself).

 Growing up, while my family watched conference (similar to Catholics watching the Pope on television) my mother would create a festive atmosphere that could challenge the binging holiday of Thanksgiving. 
Naturally, we kept the tradition alive.
 In between Saturday conferences we visited the Lionhouse, one of the many houses the first Govenor built. I've had a love affair with historic homes and furnishings. It might have something to do with being five feet tall. Today, the world is created for those several inches taller. Cars, cupboards, chairs - everything is made for the average American. In 1850, I would be closer to the average height. Chairs, door handles, dresses are the perfect length for someone like me.

 The detail and craftsmanship of yesteryear is incomparable to today's standards. The guilds secured the quality of work for centuries by training and retraining young apprentices. I confess, my heart skips a beat when I admire the labor of days gone by.
 My mother in law volunteered at the conference and snagged us front row seats. We were able to feel the hush of the crowd as the President walked into the building. One of these days I hope to see Rome and walk the halls held sacred by Catholics.
  For the last four generations, the first girl is named Clarissa, either as the first or middle name.  My oldest daughter already dreams of naming her own daughter the same.

 After both conferences on Saturday, we toured another home from the first governor, the Beehive house.

 We sat in the original chairs built over 150 years ago. We walked through authentic halls and doorways with intricate carvings and elaborate embellishments (look at those "ordinary" chairs outlined with gold paint). I'm still swooning at the memory.
 The stairways and beds were narrow and short - I was born a few centuries too late!
 I'm standing next to a writing desk filled with books because his daughter wrote several journals. Her immaculate record keeping allowed historians to accurately capture life in the mid 1800's. 
She was a petite five feet tall woman.
Her name was Clarissa
Clarissa Y. Spencer, to be exact.

 The three living Clarissa's made their way home. I remember several years before, when I was my daughter's age and seeing the house for the first time. It was the first summer I wrote in a journal. It's been over two decades since and I've faithfully recorded my life from the chaos of college to the madness of motherhood. Much like my mother before me. 
As I sit at my desk now, my daughter writes about her trip in her personal journal, just like Grandma.
G is for Grandma - and her legacy.


Annis Cassells said...

A lovely piece, Clarissa! Thank you for all the photos and for giving us a glimpse of Conference, which obviously means a lot to you and yours.


Anna K. Stewart said...

It's always a blessing to have the influence of prior generations. I see that your traditions are very important to you and it's wonderful that you are sharing them with your children.