When they talked about this Sunday being Mother's Day, I suddenly felt sorrow that my Mother was no longer with us and I bowed my head, asking God to forgive me for the attitudes i far too often had expressed about her. It was then I heard a voice, "But you had a grand Mother!"
And the more I thought about it, that was true. So for those of you might not understand, here is a little background.
It was 1929 and my father and mother were expecting their first daughter. He had been married before, had two sons, and as the story goes, he yearned for a daughter. After he was divorced, he married my mother and so I was told, he was elated at the thought of having a daughter. Those were the days when the nation idolized young starlets and foremost among all of them, was Shirley Temple. Their new baby was named before it was even born.
I sa it because, I was it! I have heard that they searched for a "matching" name and someone mentioned that the name of their bank President was Sherwood Recor. It became Sherwood. But what about a middle name, what "rhymed" with Sherwood? They decided on our grandmother's maiden name, - Brown. Sherwood Brown! Hey, it might have been Pink!
After the great Stock Market crash of 1929, life moved on as they did. Detroit, Toledo, OH and then, Lakewood, OH, and mother was pregnant again. This time they got my father's fondest wish, a girl, and yes, she was named Shirley, Shirley Lou.
But as the story goes, they had a problem and it was, Sherwood. They could not bring Shirley Lou home as Sherwood, had the measles. The solution was at hand in that mother's mother was there for the new baby and she seized the opportunity to take her first grandson home with her to the farm in Yale, Michigan.
And there Sherwood would stay, except for a brief period of time after the family moved back to Detroit and he would live there for a year or so until his father passed out on his way home from work. Another problem and Sherwood was on his way "home" to the farm where he would live until he joined the Army Air Corps in 1946, three and a half weeks after his 17th birthday.
Life on the farm was great for a growing boy, lots of room to play with a friend, a beautiful Collie dog named, Tippy, and of course, his grandparents and their son, Blake. I really did not miss my parents. Father died from the results of that fall and I never got to know him. Mother and Shiley lived in Detroit and occasionally, came to the farm for weekend visits. Other than that, I would grow up, never really knowing my mother either, except that I thought she was beautiful and always smelled nice when she came to visit.
But that seemed to be OK, after all I had my grandparents to care for me and that turned out to be one of the greatest experiences in my lifetime - now in my 85th year, reaching out for more.
Grandpa was always Grandpa. Wonderful man, who worked from 4:30AM every day until the sun went down, except for Sundays. He taught me many things, not because he took the time to discuss life in general, he just personified integrity and was highly respected in the community.
Grandma was never grandma, or grand mother, or "old lady". She was - Nan! And she loved her first grandson. Most of us think that was because she had lost a son, still born, a couple of years before I came along and all the love she had prepared for her second son, was showered on me. She was my "rock" as Grandpa was usually too busy and my mother lived too far away. I learned what it meant to love and to be loved, unconditionally. The only time I ever remember scolding me was when I complained that my mother, really did not love me, only my sister. She made my bed, washed my clothes and wiped away my tears when there was no one else around. And then she cried when I decided to leave High School and join the Air Force.
I was in Japan when I received what would be a package every month or so - typically filled with the cookies she knew I loved and then, one day, the package contained two quart jars filled with chunks of venison (deer meet) and I would become best of friends with the Mess cook who helped me eat them.
One of my uncles had shot the deer she said, but later on, another box arrived with more venison, but no comment as to who had shot the deer. It was way past the deer season. Years later, I was back in Yale for my grandmother's funeral and stopped by Evans and Knapp, the town butcher and learned she had bought the venison meat after noticing they had some on sale.
That was my grand mother, the only real Mother I would ever know and love. I'll close with this final episode. I was back in the States, in Illinois, and received a telegram, "Mother is dying. B.L." That was Mother telling me about Nan. I was on my way the next morning. Driving about 80 mph on the highway leading into Indianapolis, I was stopped by a patrol man. "In a hurry, Sarge," was his greeting as I handed him the telegram laying on the seat beside me. 'Well, let's see if we can help you get home," and told me to follow him - at 85 mph, past Indianapolis and all the way to the Michigan border, where we were met by the Michigan police, waiting in a diner. They had my lunch waiting for me and offered to escort me further. As they kept talking about my mother, I had to explain that "B.L." was my mother, she was talking about my grandmother. "OK" the patrolman answered, "no more escort, but if you have any trouble along the way, call the number on my card."
I got home OK, to hear my grandmother's voice in her bedroom. "Is that Sherwood?" and when they said it was, she was out of bed and wrapped me in her arms, tears pouring out of her eyes. I was home! With my Grand mother, the only mother I wold ever really know.