June 19 is my maternal grandmother’s birthday and I like to think of her on her special day. She lived more than ninety years and left us in January, 1978. Her memory lingers on, thirty-five years so far. And I’d like the next generation to carry on her memory.
Born in Pennsylvania, Lillian Trader came to Indian Territory as a young girl. About twelve, I think. I don’t think her family participated in the land lottery but came soon after the Kiowa Comanche Apache Reservation was opened to settlement. They traveled in a wagon and she thought she had come to a land of fruit trees… but she was in mesquite country.
She was a part of history as Southwestern Oklahoma was settled and prepared for statehood. Unfortunately, she didn’t like to talk about the past, said she’d “rather live in the present.”
When my mother was little, people called her a “little booger” and she thought this was a term of endearment. So, she decided to call her mother Booger. And it stuck.
Tragedy struck the family in the mid-1930s, leaving Booger a young widow. My mother was the youngest of her three daughters and the first to marry. She married without her parent’s blessing. I was the first grandchild. However, Booger didn’t want to be thought of as a grandmother and so I was taught to call her Booger (as did all her grandchildren).
In the early years of their marriage, she and her husband camped and fished, and Booger loved the outdoors all her life. I remember a small Ford tractor that she rode to a farm just outside town where she kept a small herd of cattle. She liked to garden and I think she used the “little tractor” to plow her garden each year.
She poured over seed catalogs throughout the winter and I think she always received an order of seeds and bare root plants in the spring. She loved roses, planted new ones every year, and enjoyed growing new bushes from cuttings. Her rose garden always had a number of fruit jars turned up-side-down over new cuttings. After giving the plants a good start, she gave them away.
When Mama visited her mother or her uncle, or they came to visit us, we toured the yard before going into the house for refreshments. I was the only child in the family, so I tagged along. Also, I wasn’t allowed out of Mama’s sight. I followed the tour and learned about plants and gardening. Everything in Mama’s flowerbeds came from cuttings and shared clumps of perennials. I think it would be fun to visit someone now and go home with a clump of dirt and sprouts that would take root and be a reminder of the person who grew it. I wish I had something from her yard now… of course, it’s all gone.
This blog is long enough… I’ll save some memories for next year at this time.