My grandmother passed away this morning at 11:30am. At 10:10 Aunt Lynn woke her and told her we all love her. The phone rang, Aunt Lynn went to answer the phone and when she came back Grandma D was gone.
She wasn’t an unusual women, for her time.
Grandma D. Merle Avo. We used to joke and call her “Merle’s Navel” which she hated. Since she was born in New Mexico we also used to say she was a Mexican and that would just rile her Oklahoma sensibilities.
“I am not!” she would emphatically state. Then she’d giggle. Just a little.
My favorite story of Grandma is this one. I hope someday to be this strong. I don’t know how she did it.
The year was 1938. They lived in Oklahoma and there was no work, no food and no prospects. So Grandpa headed out to the West Coast looking for work.
He was gone a long time without word when Grandma sold everything they had to her mother, bought bus tickets for herself, Jimmy, Paul, Eva Marie and little Everett. They had just enough left over for a bag of oranges.
Determined and proud, she set out. From Oklahoma to Los Angeles then north to Salem. Jimmy was 8, Eva Marie was 5, Paul was 4 and Everett was the baby. What they would find when they got to Salem, Oregon they couldn’t predict and it had been a very long time since they’d heard from Grandpa.
When they arrived a kind gentleman paid for them to spend one night in a hotel and Grandma called Aunt Maxine, Grandpa’s sister. Aunt Maxine found Grandpa, Grandma found Grandpa and they stayed on Fairhaven in the house he built until 1997 when he passed away.
That’s as much of the story as she would ever allow to be told. But reading a little bit between the lines I see strength, fear, hope and determination.
Merle Avo was not an unusual woman. For her time.
She was extraordinary in ours.