Sliding the button to the right, I answered the incoming call. “Hello?” I chirped, making sure to include a friendly lilt to my greeting.
“Lanny?” came the voice. “Did you write today?” It was my Gram calling. In October of this strange and terrible year, my grandmother, Helen Abner Callaway, will turn 100 years old. Yes, that means she was born in 1920. “The year of Women’s Suffrage,” she likes to remind me, so proud of the monumental step that this legislation represents for women’s rights in this country.
The oldest of five girls, my Gram was raised by farmers near St. Paul, Arkansas. Sometimes I shake my head in amazement when she tells me stories of her growing up, such as the one about following her mother to fetch water from a well located several hundred yards from the house, watching as her mother carried a large bucket in one hand while a baby rested on her opposite hip. I have to marvel sometimes at the change my grandmother has witnessed across the last century. During her childhood, the family did not even own a phone. Nowadays I talk to her on a small computer I carry around in my pocket.
Grammy still lives alone in her home in eastern Oregon, the small and humble home where she raised three girls of her own, alongside my grandpa. My mother and her two younger sisters would all go on to become teachers, although the youngest would eventually leave the profession to pursue a successful career in law. Gram always seemed to believe strongly in two things: Get an education, and be a good person. If nothing else, she will have always imparted those two values upon me, and I shall never forget them. Gram has much to be proud of.
Recently, Grammy told me of a new milestone in her life: “I didn’t go to the grocery store with [my friend] Mary today,” she said. “I’m having more trouble moving around these days, and plus I don’t think it’s wise for me to be out and about with this virus.” She is probably right about that.
Over the last couple of years, Gram has taken an interest in my Slice of Life blogging, often calling me and asking if I wrote on Tuesday. Last Tuesday the question came again. “Yes, Gram, I wrote today,” I responded.
I bet she will call today.