29 December 2012

Grandma Stretcher

My Grandmother Stretcher was a character.  I remember her being involved in numerous activities but the one that stands out the most was her involvement with Christian Science.  I do not know when or how she developed this but it was the centre of her life when I was growing up.  I don't think that my grandfather was involved in it.

There were many practices that she commited herself to:  served at the Christian Science Reading Room in the village of Bybee near Sellwood in Portland.  Read all of the publications of CS - mostly "Science and Health" by Mary Baker Eddie and her copy of this was marked in many, many places.  Attended the Sunday morning service and the mid-weekly one, too.  Would not go to a doctor if she was ill - my mother had to almost call the police to get her to go into a hospital when she was really sick and then the whole time she was there, she threatened to "escape".  Taught Sunday School at the church - and she talked about CS all the time.  Her faith was very strong.

I admired my grandmother for this but we all thought it was a bit nutty.  Nutty or not, my grandmother got action from God - most of the time.  I can remember one summer afternoon when my cousins were visiting from California and all of us (my sister Candace, my two cousins, my grandmother and I) decided to walk to the local Safeway grocery store.  It was hot and we all wanted ice cream cones.

On the way home, dark clouds overhead burst into rain that was strong and seemingly unending.  We were soaked and had quite a way to walk home.  My grandmother told us that we were all going to gather under the big tree up ahead and pray to God for the rain to stop.  She told us to pray the Lord's prayer - and just keep praying it.  I can remember thinking that this was never going to work and we were going to be stuck under the tree for the next hour or more.

So we started praying outloud - in those days you never-ever told your grandmother that what she suggested wasn't going to work.  Well, the rain stopped - quite quickly.  The sun came out and dried up the sidewalk and we walked home.  When we arrived our clothes were dry and everyone was happy. 

My grandmother never said a word about it.  She had "perfect peace" (a phrase she often used) and that was it.

Grandma had grown up in Canada and most of her brothers and sisters still lived there.  My mother often took all of us up there to visit them.  It was fun and they spent a lot of time laughing and tell stories and eating amazing food.  I loved the food and the fact that they always had dessert.  There was also morning and afternoon tea with piles of muffins, cakes, etc....

One summer Grandma's brother  Uncle Arthur visited Portland.  I can remember being scared when I first saw him.  I wasn't that young but he was from "another time".  He had been living in Montana and working on farms.  He was huge with a handle-bar mustache.  What really impressed me was when  my grandmother asked him to tell my sister and me about the years he was a stagecoach driver in the midwest of the US.  She had photos of him driving the coaches with the horses.  It all seemed a bit unreal.

We wanted to know if he ever got chased by robbers.  Of course, they would have had to have guns as we had seen on television.   I remember thinking that maybe he had know Davy Crockett - I didn't know much about history when I was nine. 

No he didn't know Davy Crockett or Kit Carson but he had been the main driver for Theodore Roosevelt when he travelled the mid-west.  Now, this didn't impress me at all - who was that?  Oh, okay, he was President of the United States at the time and I did end up going to a high school in Seattle named after him - but I didn't think much of it then.

And every year - at least, I suppose, until I was about ten, she took us on vacation!

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