Thursday, July 8, 2010

Women Who Dare: Grace Marie Landon Brown (My Grandmother)

I have been writing about women who dare.  Women who have defied convention, changed the world,  lived their own lives in times when it considered outside the norm for woman.  These are women who have inspired myself and other women to live their lives on their own terms. 

Today I am writing about a woman who inspired my life in so many ways.  My paternal grandmother.  She was born Grace Marie Landon in Dunkirk Indiana, we believe in the year 1883.  She passed away in 1972, and we believe she was 89 at that time.  She would never say when she was born and she would never say how old she was.  But from a few remaining family documents this is the age and year we have come up with.  At the age of 9 or 10 the Landon family moved to Kansas City. This consisted of my great-grandfather, great-grandmother, my grandmother (the oldest child) and her four other sisters, plus my great-great grandmother.

For the times they lived in,  the Landon family were considered respectably well-to do.  Great-grandfather owned and operated a feed and grain store.  He owned the house they moved into, it was, for the period, a large house, 4 bedrooms upstairs, formal parlor, dining room, kitchen, butler's pantry, servants bedroom downstairs. 

I remember as a young child going to this house for Sunday family dinners.  There would be about 20-25 people there for Sunday dinner (yes the dining room could accomadate that easily, I believe it could seat comforably upwards to 35 people for a sit down dinner) (They were always sit down dinners here and you had to be "dressed" in your Sunday best and have beautifully executed manners (failed this one quite often!)

My Grandmother and her sisters all attended school, high school, and college.  For a family back then to send a child off to college was a big deal, but to send 5 girls off to college was unheard of.  My grandmother was a pianist.  A very good pianist.  It is probably the one thing that I wish I had inherited from here.  The love of music was passed down to my father and then to me.  But the actual talent to create music went to my brother not me.

My grandmother married late in life, she was probably in her late 20's early 30's.  She married a Nebraska fellow by the name of Elmer E Brown.  Grandfather was of Nebraska ranching stock.  He and my grandmother moved to Eastern Colorado and had their own cattle ranch.  The ranch ran about 300 head of cattle, small but adequate.  They had two children, my father Frank and his sister Margene.

My grandmother did everything on the ranch that my grandfather did.  We have photographs of her on a hay wagon tossing hay to the cattle.  She was wearing work pants and shirt and boots!  She drove the wagons, she drove a car, she was very opinionated, had her own views about everything.  And yes they sometimes did not go along with my grandfather's views.

My grandmother was not a religious person, but she was a spiritual person.  But she read the Bible everyday.  She made sure my brother and I knew the Bible.  She would tell us stories from the Bible, she would read to us from it, she would have us read from it.  She made sure we were well educated in that respect.  She even made sure we went to Sunday School.  She would say to us "Know what is in the Bible, andt when you are older, then you can make your own decisions about religion."

Something else everyone said about my grandmother, and this I know to be true, I've seen it in action, she had the "gift of knowing"  "the Sight".  It was the most uncanny thing I have ever witnessed.  When she
"knew"  she really did know!  It never scared us, but just through us sometimes.  She would announces "I believe so-and-so is going to get married" or she say " Hilda passed last night"  and sure enough, if not within a couple of hours, at least a day, we would get the news.  Exactly as she said.

My grandmother taught me many things growing up.  She was familiar with the "old ways".  And she passed this down to me.  What herbs and flowers to use for teas, tinctures, healing, soothing, etc.  She taught me about nature and the seasons.  She followed the seasons.  We did everything by the seasons and the turn of the moon.  When to plant, when to harvest, what is in season, what is good, what is poison.  She taught me that if you take something from nature, ask first, say thank you, and repay nature back. 

I really did, even thought at the time I did not know it, lived in a magical house with my grandmother.  It was the house my grandfather built for her here in Kansas City when they moved back from Colorado.  Almost 3 acres of land of nothing but flowers, herbs, vegetables, trees so old I couldn't put an age to them.  Small wildlife roaming, rabbits, skunks. opossums, owls, etc.  She taught me all about these too.

She also taught me how to cook.  I am forever greatful on that account.  And when I mean cook, I mean everything made from scratch.  Everything!  So yes, I can make a complete meal for five, from scratch, without ever opening a can or box!  And if I put myself to it, I could probably prepare a Holiday meal the same way.  Thank you grammy for that!

But the one thing she did for me was show me that a woman can do anything, anything, she sets her mind to.  She can survive on her own.  God gave her brains and the ability to use them.  Don't let them go to waste. Education is for everyone, male or female.  You are entitled to have your own opinions and ideas.  You do not have to go along with crowd.  You can be you.

And for all of this I am thankful for my grandmother Grace Marie Landon Brown for being a woman who dared to live life in her own way on her own terms

(I do have pics of my grandmother but my scanner is not working at this time, that is why there are none in this post.  But as soon as I get the scanner working I upload them and post them)

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