Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma Harmon!

Elizabeth Thomas Shaw Harmon, known to many as Bessie, was born today in 1892. I don't have a digital picture of Grandma handy but did want to recognize her birthday. This is a picture of the sugar bowl that was a wedding present to her parents. In this picture it is on a doily her mother, Elizabeth Thomas Shaw made. The sugar bowl is something she probably grew up using. Guess it wasn't in the large tub of dishes she was carrying between the dining room and kitchen and dropped. Her comment over the broken dishes, "Thank goodness they weren't washed!" Apparently doing dishes was not a favorite chore. For awhile she succeeded in avoiding doing the dishes by visiting the outhouse - until her Grandma caught on and made sure it didn't happen again.

I had always known Grandma Harmon as a very refined, gracious woman. That is until her mother came to visit us for several weeks in the fall of 1962. Grandma Shaw told us stories that have entertained generations. From trying to convince the Indians mud was a very effective soap for hand washing to fleeing from the dentist's office raising her hands high over her head, "Minnie (her older sister) saved my life! Minnie saved my life!" There were the baby buggy (occupied by infants) races - of course always sedately walked in front of the home. One lunch time when asked to fix a bite to eat for her mother and grandmother, Grandma did just that. When she called them in for lunch they found a bite of bread on each plate! At Grandma's viewing the night before her funeral one of her teenage friends told me the story of how Bessie did her best to embarrass this friend when she was the queen of a parade. One of my favorite stories is how as a newly-wed, her brother-in-law challenged her to an Indian wrestling match. Grandma demurred saying she hadn't brought any pants. Then she went home and practiced with her brothers. The next time this brother-in-law challenged her she accepted - and promptly flipped him. And who doesn't enjoy the story of her scheme to get her father to re-hitch the horses and head back into town to get her some chocolates - the only thing that would make her feel better.

Grandma certainly had a sense of humor and enjoyed life. She was also compassionate and charitable. When she was in her 50's she volunteered to take care of her younger brother's infant son when his wife died in childbirth. She took care of Larry for several years and made sure to send letters and pictures to his father (Byron) so he could be part of his son's growing up. Later when her parents needed more care than they could provide for themselves, Grandma brought them to her home and lovingly cared for them. Grandma served for many years in Relief Society and was a faithful temple attender. Towards the end of my freshman year at BYU I was a little concerned about going home for the summer and having to give up my "freedom" I had enjoyed while living away from home. I asked her advice and she gave good counsel.

Grandma was my escort when I received my endowments. When Grandma passed away in 1984 Mother chose to buy new temple clothing to bury her mother in and gave me Grandma's temple clothing. They washed up beautifully and I have enjoyed using them for many years. They were what she wore when she was my escort and in a sense Grandma came to the temple with me every time I went.

Happy Birthday Grandma! I look forward to being with you again.
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