Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Friend to All

Alice Houston Rasmussen (1913-2001)

My grandmother

me --> Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan --> Alice Houston Rasmussen

I had the wonderful opportunity to live with my grandparents for two different summers.  First, the summer I turned 15, and second, the summer I turned 18.  I got to "hang out" with them while Grandpa watched Wheel of Fortune 

and Santa Barbara 

and Grandma baked bread 

and read books.  

One thing I noticed that Grandma did quite often was sit on her living room couch and stare out the window.

Note:  This is not my grandmother nor her window.

As a young dumb teenager, this used to drive me crazy.  I'd come home from something and find her just looking out the window.  She'd then report to me all the people who had walked by.  I would casually dismiss her and then go on to my next activity.  Walking away I'd think, "You have so many skills and talents, why are you wasting your life staring out a window?"

Last night, I found out why.  I had dinner with my parents, and my mother told me that when my grandmother died, a woman walked up to my mom and said, "Your mom is the reason why I stayed in this community."

To protect this woman's family's privacy, I'm not going to tell you her name, but let me tell you little bit about her.

She was raised in a Norwegian immigrant community in Minnesota.  She loved swimming, fishing, and boating.  

When she graduated from high school, all three of her brothers were fighting in World War II.

She too, wanted to help the cause and joined the Civil Service.

She was sent far away to a very tiny rural neighborhood called Hill Field.  You may not recognize that name because today it is called

in Odgen, Utah

While there, she met a handsome young man who was serving in the Army Air Corps.

They married and he was transferred to Tennessee.  Times were hard and they were struggling.  Their first child was the first baby born in the new year and so she won much needed nursery items.

I have no idea whether she won chocolates or not.

Then they moved to Price, Utah.   Remember she's from Northern Minnesota.

She used to live here.

 And now she lives here.

Not much chance of swimming, boating, or fishing.

This woman had a hard time adjusting to life in Price, Utah.  She wasn't feeling accepted by the community.  That's where my grandmother comes in.  She welcomed this neighbor and helped her feel like she belonged.  They became friends and so did their daughters.  

Last night, my mom told me a little more about what kind of neighbor my grandmother was.  She frequently would walk around the neighborhood checking on everyone and meeting anyone new.  She treated LDS and non-LDS alike making sure all felt welcome.  In the fall, she would fill up a wagon full of vegetables and give away her produce to those neighbors she thought could use some extra food.

I think Mom summed it up best when she said, "She was a friend to all."

I now I realize why she stared out the window.  Her knees were bad and walking was much harder for her.  Although her body wasn't willing, her spirit still yearned to watch over and care for her neighborhood.

I wish I could go back to those summers when I walked in the front door and saw my grandmother sitting on her couch looking out the window.  This time I would sit down beside her and ask, "Who did you see today?  Tell me about them."  I could have learned from the best how to be a great neighbor and a friend to all.

Note: To read my grandmother's obituary, click on her name at the top of this post.

1 comment:

  1. I loved how you wrote this! I'm happy that I can just tell you something and you can make poetry out of it, Heather? Thanks.