Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

Mondays with Mariana – Grandma

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 23

My grandma on my mom’s side was a teacher and a hairdresser and my grandpa was a rancher. On my dad’s side, grandpa was a store owner and grandma taught school as well.

My parents grew up with daily outdoor work, and deliberate, simple living. Love of thy neighbor was doctrine, sharing with their neighbor was expected, and counting their blessings was what one did.

My maternal grandmother’s name was Mariana – Marian. Born April 17, 1911, her parents were married in 1902. Her father, Nazario was a sheep farmer and freighter (he picked up and delivered products for the family store). Her mom, Clara died of the flu in 1918. Then in early December 1922, her father, Nazario rode out to routinely check on the sheep. Ill-prepared for the unexpected storm that arose, he headed home with what appeared to be a cold but quickly turned to pneumonia. Three days later, he died.

Marian and her three siblings were left orphans, ages 15, 12, 9, and 21 months. At eleven years old, she and her four-year-old sister were sent to be boarders at the Loretto Academy in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After finishing 8th grade, she returned to Arizona.

A devout Catholic, grandma became an entrepreneur before it was all the rage. She attended Beauty School and owned a beauty salon in a small Arizona town in the 1940s with a friend from the Morman Church, an unlikely partner at the time. Although discrimination lingered in the town, Grandma looked at everyone as good and worthy. She was 4’8″ and strode through life in size 4 1/2 high heels with optimism and “loads of love” – the same way she signed her letters.

Grandma taught us to sew, quilt, embroider, and most importantly how to give a great manicure. She and mom cut our hair and gave us perms we really thought we wanted at the time. We relished the quality time spent and the strong fumes made for good company.

Mom called grandma, “mother”. They had a very loving and comforting relationship. It seemed easy. She was mom’s go-to…always had a secret ingredient for her tortillas (add a teaspoon or 2 of sugar and powdered milk – it makes the dough an easy conversion to sopaipillas). She always knew where to hem the pants, how to sweeten lemonade (maraschino cherries), and how to make mom smile.

My sweet grandma was a gem. From the tips of her well-kept nails to the curls of her perfectly set hair.

God bless you, Grandma, thanks for the many, many memories, and please keep watching over us.

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