Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Great Grandmother Ella

I never knew my Great Grandmother Ella. She passed away before my own grandma had even turned 20. I wonder what it would have been like to know her and if I carry any of her characteristics. I've just finished a biography about her, made up of letters she wrote to her husband and sons (while they served missions), her journal, newspaper clippings and memories of her children. I'm really grateful to the person who compiled, transcribed and wrote it. I've really enjoyed the glimpses into her life.

They worked so hard back then! In Ella's journal, she'd write things like "Washed" or "Bottled tomatoes" which took the entire day, I'm sure. It's amazing the things I take for granted. I've got a load of whites whooshing quietly in the washer, and a pantry full of canned vegetables that I simply picked up from the grocery store, while I sit here typing on a computer! She was a well-respected schoolteacher and then principal in the county, as well as a landowner all before the age of 30!

I love this quote from her about a teacher's love:

"It is an easy matter to love that little girl who is always prepared, who never whispers, who never comes tardy, whose nature is all love and sunshine; but what about our love for that little rogue rattling marbles and sticking pins, that mischievous boy with black hands, besmeared face and torn clothes? He has provoked us too often to draw our love, and yet of the two he needs it more. The love-blossom in his soul, perhaps, almost blighted by bitter words and angry cuffs at home, needs sunshine - the sunshine of the teacher's love."

Ella got married later in her life to George, and they actually eloped, deciding one day while out for a holiday drive that they wanted to get married! Although they were later sealed in the Logan Temple, I can't picture any of our family members being so spontaneous! She wrote on her marriage certificate that she was "25" because that's how old she felt that day (she was actually 30). I think that's just cool. After having her first child, her husband was called away on a 2-year mission for the Church, and she was a single working mother, returning to teach school in order to support her husband. What a sacrifice!

She was quite the dessert-maker and was famous for her maple nut ice cream, which was often requested for various community functions. I guess I can blame her for my love for ice cream!? She served tirelessly in the Primary and Relief Society, even holding book clubs, where they read selections such as "The Long Exile" by Tolstoy and "Le Morte D' Arthur" by Sir Thomas Malory.

She died suddenly at the age of 57, from complications resulting from a ruptured appendix, leaving behind her husband, four sons and a daughter (my grandma). I love what the author said as an Afterword:

"For although she (Ella) left her family behind, her influence remained. Instead of passing on treasured pieces of china or a savored recipe, she left her love of learning, refinement, service, music, nature and God to continue to guide her children. They each passed these same qualities on to their children, so that now parts of Ella's life exist in each of us." -EDW


love.boxes said...

Your great-grandmother was a poet. I just love what she wrote.

Sarah said...

What a great reminder of sacrifices, daily chores, and strong characteristics in our family. Looks like I need to pull it down from Mom's shelf again to brush up on the details! Thanks...