Monday, March 15, 2010

Memoir Monday: Summer Raspberries

Paul's family is from Wisconsin and I have never encountered a heartier group of people. They are all stunningly capable and put my suburban-bred ass to shame.

Paul's grandfather used to own a dairy farm. In his younger days, he would drive up to Hurley, close to the Michigan border, and compete in arm-wrestling competitions. I have no doubt he won many of them. He has big hands. Like trash-can lids.

Paul's grandmother was a sweet soul, partial to pink and soft-spoken. Yet, she was a farm-girl by nature, and rumor has it that she dragged rogue moles, raccoons, and other critters to the river in burlap sacks to meet their makers.

She had cancer, which she fought on her terms, at home. The last time I saw her, she apologized for the size of her garden. She said she lacked the energy to make a good one. Her "pitiful" garden was almost an acre. It was what I would call a farm.

The stories go on and on.

Paul's uncle hunts bear.

Another uncle is an honest-to-God curler (as in the Olympic sport, although he is not an Olympian).

Paul's father and mother met at a snowmobile rally.

I haven't even touched upon the stories of lumberjack mishaps. They often involve bloody stumps and the dragging of remaining limbs through the forest. All true, they swear.

The first time I met these relations was a week after our engagement. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I slept in a guest room with a broken screen, and chiggers and mosquitoes swarmed all over my face, my arms. I looked like The Elephant Man after a few days.

Paul and I would take the canoe out. He would catch fish, while I would squeal that they were "too flappy", whine about my itchy skin, and complain that the water was getting all over my John Irving novel.

I tried to be gracious, but I was sure they hated me.

The day we left, Paul's grandfather looked me in the eye and said, "We like you." My heart swelled, although I didn't understand what they liked. My whining? My wimpiness? My complete lack of knowledge about Muskies? (That's a mean fish, I learned).

I learned later that this is what sealed the deal: I was helping Paul's grandmother wash some dishes, and I found a raspberry on the floor. Without hesitating, I popped it in my mouth. Paul's grandmother told my mother-in-law, "We like her. She doesn't put on airs."

I like her too. I miss her. In Heaven, I believe, she is gardening away, free from disruptive critters, with all the summer raspberries her heart can contain.

Thank you Travis, for hosting Memoir Monday. Come check out some other memoirs at his place. 


Bekah said...

What a cool post! Isn't it wonderful how we can fit into another family that is so unlike our own? And I love John Irving, too. I was introduced to him in High School AP English and haven't put him down since!

Coby said...

Just wonderful! I love the description of Paul's grandpa's hands as "trash-can lids." My grandfather was a farmer, and his hands are just HUGE, with fingers as big as sausages.

Aunt of 14 said...

This is such a good post!!! I love what she said after you ate the floor raspberry. That is just so neat!

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

I love that story. It gave me goose bumps. Now I love you. Will you marry me?

Frau said...

Great story and what a family to be a part of...the stories are probably better than any novel. Have a wonderful Monday!

clearness said...

Raspberries are so gosh darn good, I would have popped it in my mouth and then gone crawling along the floor looking for more.

Unknown Mami said...

Of course you don't put on airs, you put on tankinis.

Ms. Moon said...

This reminds me of Mr. Moon's family who also had a dairy farm at one time and who were hearty people, strong and good. When I first met them, Mr. Moon's daddy put his arm around me and said, "We are so glad that Glen has found you. You have given us our boy back."
He'd been in a marriage before he met me and had recently been divorced. The family never did like that first wife very much, although I am certain they were kind to her because they were just kind people. BUT, when Glen and I had been married about a month, they gave us a quilt that his great grandmother had made when he was still a child to give to him when he got married- and they had never given it to Glen when he married his first wife.
So they were wise, too.

mama-face said...

Sounds like you've got a million stories to share...

Start with the snowmobile rally. :)

I love this post. Keep those memories coming.

Corrie Howe said...

Isn't it amazing all the things we do to try and impress someone and it's the little thing we didn't think about that won them over?

Paul's family sounds like they are a lot of fun to be around. Got to like those folks from Wisconsin, even if they say "Sorry" in a funny way.

(Which is not so funny when the kids pick up on that accent.)

blueviolet said...

I love that the innocent gesture of a raspberry snack endeared you to them. :)

Tracie said...

They sound like my kind of people. I would love to hear more of their stories.

PS I, too, would be the gal complaining about the bugs/heat/ick and reading my book. I've been know to be that girl during family outings to football games.

Cat said...

Great story- I love the little thing that won them over.

Travis said...

This was a brilliant and beautifully told story. I loved the end.

Oh. And Muskies will eat your face. I don't blame you for being a chicken.

Thanks for the participation today, darlin. Look forward to more!

Angie Muresan said...

Nancy, this is such an incredible story. So tender and yet humorous. I like that they got you, that you didn't have to put on an act for their sake, but could be yourself.

only a movie said...

Love this - 'flappy' fish.


Marla said...

I like you too. Wonderful story!

Jenny said...

Another great post!