Our Grandma, Frances Ellen Tustin,
had to babysit, so she left after two years of school.
She had learned to read! She used that skill
to educate herself and lived her life to the full.
At twelve, Grandma worked as a hotel maid.
Married at seventeen, she had two sons.
She and Grandpa worked hard to support
their family during the Great Depression.
Our grandparents moved a lot, flipping houses.
Grandma wallpapered, painted, and plastered.
The last house they renovated was her childhood
home, using all the skills they had mastered.
Grandma lived there for more than thirty years,
raising chickens, planting grapes and fruit trees.
She grew asparagus, strawberries, and flowers,
and cultivated her garden into her eightees.
Grandma decorated her home with hooked rugs,
handmade quilts, and afghans she crocheted.
Her grandchildren were always proud
to wear the beautiful clothes she made.
Cooking in restaurants and caring for the sick…
Grandma had many jobs over the years.
She was a long-time Sunday school teacher
who had earned the respect of her peers.
We always ate well at Grandma’s house…
Everybody loved her black walnut cinnamon buns!
Grandma fed us chicken cacciatore and cookies.
We gathered eggs in the henhouse. That was fun!
In summer, Grandma gave strawberries
to friends and neighbors and made strawberry pies.
A huge bowl of strawberries waited for us at
Grandma’s. We couldn’t eat them all, but we tried!
The Raggedy Ann and Andy Dolls Grandma made
were in demand at local gift shops.
The dolls she made for her great grandchildren
were always loved a lot!
Most of my generation wanted to be like Grandma.
Great granddaughters, and great nieces, too,
are named “Frances” or “Ellen” or “Tustin,”
a gentle reminder: Be known by the good works you do.
Reprinted from Life in Inspiring Places
Copyright© 2019 by Cheryl Batavia