Grandma Cary was a resourceful woman having been raised on a Kansas farmstead with countless brothers (a.k.a. farm hands) where mastering the art of making something useful out of every scrap at hand was essential. She married a boy from the nearest farm a couple of miles away. They eventually became a couple and built a happy though hard life together. They moved out to Californee via Colorado and lived the rest of their lives there. Grandpa became a crane operator and helped to construct many freeway overpasses in Southern California. He smoked a whole lot of cigarettes and cigars back in that day and it led to the emphysema that took his life. He was larger than life until the daily effects of tobacco smoke in his lungs took him down. He was a good man, a hard working man and yet its not clear if he made it through the pearly gates on his final day. He was hard on grandma and wouldn’t let her go to church. Things he cried out as he passed from life on this earth to the next gave the impression that there were no rivers of life where he was heading. Though I do hope I see him again one fine day . . .
After healing and adjusting to losing Frances Elton Cary, my grandma began to live again. Grandpa wouldn’t let her have fresh flowers in the house and as I mentioned forget about going to church. She did both those things and joined a senior center and volunteered for the weekly community dance. A funny twist on a singles event was that at this very dance you were literally labeled. Grandma wore that scrap of paper labeled “SOLO“ every time she danced. The married couples weren’t labeled but the single fellas and gals were pinned at the door.
While it wasn’t a label she wore with happy feelings, it was in one regard, a badge of honor. That Grandma of mine taught me a thing or two about flying solo. In her spirit she took on her new life without Frances Elton with pure intention. She helped influence my two sisters and I in our formative years, she volunteered, she found constructive ways to live her life and not in the shadows of grandpa. She soared like a lone eagle in the sky. Sort of like a millennium falcon would soar in a futuristic sky. She wasn’t out there kicking down the doors of any intergalactic cantina but there was a spirit of Han inside her that kept her going.
Props to you grandma. So glad I stumbled upon this reminder of you, hidden in the bottom of that box of costume jewelry you used to wear. Go Solo!