Sunday, April 05, 2009

Kitchen stories: Lavon Sumaria

Everyone has two parents and I'm no different, there. Relating to my beloved about the interesting information I'd found investigating my mother's maternal side, the Truesdells he asked what about my dad's family. We were as close to them living only about twenty miles away but I don't remember as much.

My Grandfather Howard Brian Eley, born 1896, I remembered as a gruff old cranky man. Stiff as a board and when my mom and dad divorced in the early 60s, disowned my mom, sister and me. I never did understand and it was hurtful to have your Christmas card returned with a note not to contact them anymore. He relented slightly and did have a relationship with his son but I never had much to do with him and when he died in 1976, I did not attend his funeral.

There are much better memories of my grandmother, Lavon Samaria Votaw. She was quiet and kind and a pretty good cook. Born in 1902, she always referred to as "ought two", and married at 18. She was a proper church attendee and I was surprised to learn, just last week, she was pregnant when they married.

Lavon had little formal education but in her later years could speak on any popular subject. She read the paper cover to cover and loved sports though had trouble remembering the name of a LA Lakers basketball player from the late 90s, Vlade Divac. She called him the "bearded foreigner" and that name stuck with all of us.

Lavon never cursed and I rarely remember her raising her voice. She was patient with the grand kids and secretary of the Eastern Star for more than fifty years. Not one to give up on anything. She had five children the youngest coming quite late in life. My uncle Roger, as an adult, related how difficult it was to have a father too old to play catch with him as a kid. He grew up like an only child and I think, very lonely.

Three boys and two girls lived in a very small little house that Lavon occupied until about a year before her death. She was still spry of mind but her poor body had given out and rather than fall down the basement steps, again, her remaining sons moved her to a retirement home. Not an easy decision for anyone, when my Dad visited her in the home he said it was the saddest moment he ever had.

In the early 80s she would travel from Decatur, Indiana to my dad, Gene and his wife Mary's in Palm Desert and spend the winter. I believe this was the joy of her life. It was happy for me because I got to see her as an adult and she even came to stay with me for a week. So happy to have my young daughter enjoy some of the same things as I did.

Lavon confided to me her pain in losing her two daughters. Harriet died suddenly in her 40s and Bernadette, dying in a car crash on vacation, was in her 60s. Grandma said it was difficult losing Howard, her husband, but to outlive your children was heartbreaking. She would outlive one more, her first born son, Gayle. He died when she was in her 90s. She was a kind woman but strong in spirit and I might get a little of her stubbornness from her.

1 comment:

  1. I also used to love it when Grandma E came to visit us. Remember when we were up north and she stayed for a month and then went on to Gayles by train...........she was a wonderful woman and Howard B did NOT deserve such a wonderful wife.

    In a word he was a BASTARD!!!