My grandparents, Roscoe and Lizzie Holdaway, a few months after her stroke. She was about 4″8″ tall. Note the large, black purse on her left arm.
Grandma had a stroke when she was fifty-eight. The doctor came out to see her and said she’d never walk again. Ignoring him, she scooted around in an old desk chair for about three months because she wasn’t about to waste money on a wheelchair she’d never use again. After that, she put up with a cane for a few days till she was sick of it, then it was business as usual. Ever afterwards, she was a little weak on the right side and her gait was off a little, but she didn’t let it hold her back. She just carried her gigantic old-lady black purse on the left side to balance herself. She crawled in every time the car started, and made every trip anyone else did, be it the hardware store, grocery store, or vacation. Her stroke just made it a little easier for us to keep up with her.
She lived far enough away that she always stayed a couple of weeks when she visited. Upon her arrival, she insisted on taking over the family laundry, washing, hanging out on the line, and folding. We always had mountains of laundry with five kids, including two babies in diapers, so Mother was glad to have the help. Always afraid the neighbors would talk about her for letting Grandma toddle back and forth with the laundry, she always sent one of us to help. I always volunteered, since Grandma was known to hand out nickels when she was pleased. I endeavored to make sure the other kids didn’t stumble into this gold mine.
The whole time I was growing up, we had a sequence of gentle black dogs, usually named Blackie. I have no idea how many we may have had, but we always had one. Numerous though they had to have been over the eighteen years I lived at home, they all merged into one in my memory. One hot summer afternoon, as Grandma tottered back from the clothesline to the back door, the poor dog must have awakened from his nap in the shade only to see a short-legged, top-heavy voluminous load of fluffy, white diapers advancing toward him, lurching from side to side.
Terrified, he leapt up barking and lunged at the terrifying diaper monster, pushing her over backwards, the diapers landing atop her. Mother had seen the whole thing and rushed out to rescue Grandma from the jaws of the slavering beast. As soon as the dog heard Mother coming for him, he took off. We were all sure Grandma was dead. Mother tore at the pile of diapers only to find Grandma laughing so hard she couldn’t get up. She had to get her laughing fit over before we could pull her to her feet. She was totally unhurt, except for the indignity of wet pants. I can’t speak to the poor dog’s shocked condition.