I’d like to tell you about my mother’s mother, Chloe Louise Layton Harris. Of course, I always knew her just as “Grandma.” My father’s mother died many years before I was born, so Chloe was the only grandmother I really knew well. Many of my memories of her are centered in her kitchen and especially on the things that happened on and around her kitchen table.
One story I heard from my brother took place when he and two of our cousins were of the age to have their tonsils removed. Out-patient surgery was really in-house surgery, which meant that the cousins and their mothers gathered at Grandma’s house, and each child took his or her turn on Grandma’s kitchen table having his or her tonsils removed! The local country doctor took care of the surgery. Grandma and her daughters were the post-operative nurses! Everyone survived and lived long lives without their tonsils.
I also heard stories that during the harvest season Grandma would feed teams of men hired to help with the grain harvest. Around her table, she fed her own seven children, her husband, and these many men who came to the farm to put in long hours of labor. I am sure they had tremendous appetites. Preparing nearly all the food from items grown on the farm and then cooking on a wood or coal-fired stove required skill and organization that is hard to comprehend. When Grandma fed hired hands, she was up early enough to bake a dozen loaves of bread before the crew came to her kitchen for lunch. This preparation entailed grinding the wheat, mixing the bread, firing up the stove, and baking the bread. She did all this work while she was preparing everything else that was needed for the meal! It is an amazing accomplishment from my modern-day viewpoint.
My Uncle Brian’s family posted his personal history on Family Tree. Uncle Brian told that during the Great Depression, the family could not sell their wheat for what it cost to grow. Instead, they fitted a special grate in the kitchen stove to burn wheat instead of coal. Other wheat was fed to hogs. Grandma served very little on her kitchen table that was not pork, potatoes, wheat cereal, milk, or homemade bread. Finding this story on Family Tree where I could read it helped me to love Grandma even more. She did whatever was necessary to care for her family in difficult times.
My days at Grandma’s table were filled with good food and good times. My favorite food I ate at Grandma’s table was fried eggs. Even my mother could not cook an egg that tasted as good as Grandma’s. I lived hundreds of miles away, but in the fall, my mother and I would go to Grandma’s house to help preserve peaches. My mother and her sisters would sit around Grandma’s table cutting, peeling, and bottling peaches for nearly a week. I would sit and listen to the stories and love shared around Grandma’s table. One year, I missed school to participate in the annual peach gathering. Between the bottles and peaches, Grandma listened to me read stories of Dick and Jane. When we left for home, my mother left with boxes of canned peaches. I left with confidence that I was the best 6-year-old reader in the world. Why not? My grandma said I was!
What memories do you have of your grandmother? Sharing your stories on Family Tree, as my Uncle Brian’s family did, can help your whole family as they grow in love and appreciation for their ancestors. Connect with your family. If you can, take time to attend the temple together. Honor your grandparents and other ancestors. Through taking the names of our grandparents and other ancestors to the temple, we extend to them our gratitude for the gift of life they gave us. Find out about your grandmothers, take their names to the temple, and share with your family the precious experiences you have doing this work of salvation for those you love so very much.