Every year I remember Grandma's birthday. It doesn't seem possible that it has been nine years since she passed on. I know that she is smiling up there in heaven because now Chris, Judy and Ross are living here.
Today was my grandma, Gladys Rutledge's birthday. She would have been 109 years old. She passed away at the age of 100 on April 18th, 2004.
It is because of her and my grandpa, Elmer Rutledge, that Camp Chicken even exists. It belonged to them and when Gram passed, it was passed on to my mother, Gloria Smith.
Gram lived through many trials and changes, the Great Depression and all of the major world wars to name a few. She saw America change in so many ways. The things we take for granted today; cars, telephones, indoor plumbing, electricity, radio, and television were all "new" things in her lifetime.
Gram loved Camp Chicken, only she called it the "Forty". She liked to sit in a chair outside at camp and listen to the birds and the wind in the trees. She loved the sound of the wind in the trees and would always remark that "the trees are really talking today".
Camp brought her peace, I think, and good memories of the times she spent there with Gramp. They had huge gardens at camp and helped Mom and Dad cut wood to heat our house.
I think of her often when I'm at Camp and sometimes, I feel her presence there. Arlene, who has what I call "Native ESP", sometimes actually sees her spirit there. I think she comes to see what we are up to and to just make sure that we are all right. It is a comforting feeling, really.
I miss her and even now, I'll pick up the phone to call her if there is something on TV that I know she would like to see. Sometimes when I'm driving to Pickford, I'll think, "Oh, I should stop by and see Gram". Then I realize that she is gone.
She had a huge influence in my life. She told us stories about our family history and because of that, we know where we came from and how we got here. She taught us to be frugal with a dollar and to work hard.
Gram loved to read and passed on that love to our Mother, Gloria, who passed it on to us. My brother, sister and I all love to read and my nephew, Ross is a voracious reader. Ross gets his love of reading from his Mother, Judy and from our side of the family too.
Gram also loved the outdoors and was an avid birdwatcher all of her life. She took great pleasure in nature and all of the plants, trees, and animals that inhabit our world.
Gram was a wonderful cook and baker. She made the most incredible ginger/molasses cookies, chocolate chip cookies and my favorite, apple pie. I really miss the apple pie made from the transparent apples that grew on the apple trees at Camp Chicken.
I know that my sister Cindy really misses the ginger cookies.
One time when Gram and Gramp were away, Cindy and our cousin Sandie Nettleton got into Gram's large cookie jar and ate all of the ginger cookies. Boy, were they sick!
When Arlene was desperately ill with cancer and couldn't eat anything at all, Gram baked her ginger cookies every week, and told her to eat them because ginger helps settle your stomach. Arlene says that Gram's ginger cookies helped save her life.
Gram was wonderfully skilled in the old arts of sewing, crocheting, knitting and quilting. For years she quilted with the other Senior Ladies down at the town hall. When she got too old to go down and quilt, she quilted baby quilts at home. Everyone who was blessed with the gift of one of her quilts treasured them always.
Oh, Gram had her moments too. She had an awful temper and could be difficult. When she got very old, sometimes the bad seemed to outweigh the good. There were times when I know she drove my poor Mother crazy.
To my Mother's great credit, she still went to Gram's house every day after my Grandpa passed away in 1983 and made sure she was all right, brought Gram her mail, and did countless chores for her. I know it wasn't easy for her to be Gram's caregiver for so long.
But, as is usually the case, we tend to remember the good times we had with Gram and all of the wonderful things she did in her lifetime.
Happy Birthday, Gram! We sure miss you.