I’m very excited today to be posting the first of a number of Guest Blogs that I’ll be sharing in the run up to the release of Listening to our Grandmothers in September. For the guest blogs I have asked a number of wonderful women to reflect on their experiences of Grandmothers or elder women in their lives. This first post is from the lovely Judith Morgan, an accountant, coach, mentor, blogger and juicing enthusiast. This beautiful piece is about Judith’s memories of one of her grandmothers.
My maternal grandmother, Grannie Symonds, was a farmer’s wife who was born, married, lived and died in and around Weymouth in Dorset, England. My mother, Daphne, was the youngest of her six children and I was the fourth youngest of her eleven grandchildren.
My earliest memories of Grannie are of her working hard on the farm and to create enormous family gatherings of upwards of 20 people with splendid farmhouse meals, all fresh, all home-grown and home-cooked and all in black and white, like the photographs. My memories are photographic.
Grannie was strong and silent, gentle and kind, accepting, loving and giving. I often went to stay with her without my parents, when a child, and my father found her much easier to love than his own mother. I want to say she was a matriarch but that would definitely be without a capital M. Strong and silent, she was the power behind the throne who commanded love and respect by dint of her admirable personality and stoicism. She died on her 86th birthday, no illness, no fuss.
Both my grandparents, as farmers, were entrepreneurs, the only example I can point to in three generations of my family, apart from myself, so something about their way of life and their work ethic must have rubbed off as I later went on to create my own albeit urban version of that.
The influences Grannie bequeathed to me include a love of church music, she played at the tiny church on her farm and I often played at school and at church as hymns were sung. She was tall and upright and values driven, as am I. She made all her own clothes and for her four daughters including their wedding dresses, bridesmaids’ dresses and going away outfits, a skill I inherited too. These are old fashioned women’s skills, church, cooking and sewing. Today, they seem to me to be all the better for being somewhat out of fashion.
She had a special name for me – Jooge – born of my younger brother trying to say my name – Judith – when he was a tiny. She never forgot that and always used it; it allowed me to feel special too.
I am sad I cannot find any photos of her to share with you, Gentle Reader. However I don’t need photos to remember her and now that I think about it I can feel her in my DNA. I did think I might have a recipe in her own handwriting to share but was unable to find that either; my own 58 year-old memory deceiving me. But I do have the recipe itself – it’s very English and I hope you enjoy it.
Grannie’s Salad Dressing
- I teacup of sugar
- I teacup of vinegar
- I teacup of milk
- 2 oz butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mustard
- I tsp plain flour
- 1 egg, well beaten
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir until it thickens. Cool before use.
I remember it goes very well with new potatoes and one of those funny 1950s English salads which are all about lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes with nothing fancy or “foreign” in them but, again, this is just a memory of the times in which Grannie Symonds lived and worked and loved and died, England in the 1900s. Grannie S was a woman of her time who kept the home fires burning through two world wars.
It is a wonderful feeling knowing that some of her indomitable spirit lives on in me and I celebrate her by living according to her light.
You can find Judith at www.judithmorgan.com or @JudithMorgan. If you want to be kept updated about the launch of Listening to our Grandmothers please sign up for my mailing list or join the Facebook page here.