Beverly Holiday Nygreen on Death Memories
I could have seen my grandmother Lena in her coffin.
My brother and I went on the train to Minnesota with mother when Lena died, but only May attended the funeral. As I have said, May didn't like funerals. She "protected" us from going; I was 8 years old and my brother was 5. I remember staying home while all the others were at the service. I believe that is the only funeral my mother May ever attended.
I remember waiting in the small farmhouse that had a pump on the backporch instead of a sink with faucets as we had in Bellingham, and an outhouse, and a Victrola in the shape of a giant lily, and a rocking chair with a cuckoo clock above it and a shelf with a jar of horehound candy. It was October and the snow was already deep. The next night I remember we went through the snow to a church dinner and the church looked like the pictures on Christmas cards. But I didn't get a glimpse at all of my grandmother's features. Did she look like my mother? My little grandfather didn't. He had a round face and a potbelly like Santa, short and puffing his pipe. He was a butcher. And now he would be looked after by mother's unmarried sister while we entrained back to the state of Washington where Daddy was lonesome for us. And when we arrived home from the visit to the land of ice and snow, the roses were still blooming in our yard in Bellingham.
The roses were always blooming in my childhood. I was indulged and doted upon. I can't remember ever having been the recipient of a cross word or chastisement. I was always the perfect, good daughter. My mother curled my golden curls around her finger every morning before sending me to school where I was always the teacher's "pet" who was always first in the class, best in grades in every test. They skipped me two grades in elementary school which made me also the shortest and cutest in the class. Mother sewed pretty dresses for me with matching bloomers and decorations of rickrack and ruffles. I had a gift for drawing pictures, or rather, mother May had taught me to draw when I was 4 years old so I was rather fantastically skillful with pencil and color crayonž. I was called "precocious" - gifted, all those lovely evaluations and I never had anything but an "A" grade until I got to college! There I met other valedictorians and had my first comeuppance, a "C" grade in Physics. I was strictly a literary and art person, not a scientist. I was mother May's creation to whom nothing awful had ever happened. Oh, if I could only go back to that charming storybook security and serenity, where there was silence -- not even radio yet, no screeching TV blasting raucous ads and commercials. Just quiet evenings with Daddy reading the paper, mother playing the piano and my brother and I at the dining room table, the round oak table, coloring a picture. The Peace of childhood!
All until age 13. Then the Wall street crash. Daddy in the hospital for 5 months with ruptured appendix and peritonitis. Then he lost his job. We put cardboard in our shoes. We ate rice and skim milk for a week. Then when I was 16, Richard, my brother, died. DIED. The REAL WORLD began. Childhood over. The pretty cocoon shattered. Sophy May put Richard's pictures in the bottom of a trunk and Daddy never, and I, nor She... never spoke his name again. Richard, our rosy, handsome 13 yr. old who was already a sophomore in High School on a hike on Sunday, dead on Wednesday.
I seem to remember going in a funeral car to Richard's service. If so, it must be that Daddy and May went too. Rlchard's ashes were thrown to the wind from Sehome hill. Who did that? Daddy? I don't recall. Trilliums on Sehome hill.
Beverly Holiday's grandmother died in October, 1926; They travelled from Bellingham, WA to Minnesota
for the funeral. Her brother Richard Holiday died in 1934. It is unknown when this was written by Beverly.