Rose Elizabeth (Lehn) Baldwin

My visit with Grandma just before her

100th Birthday, July 2, 1993

by

Kristine Elizabeth Baldwin

 

On a sunny Friday morning, Mom and I brought Grandma Rose a large bunch of yellow iris flowers. Grandma seemed quite impressed with how many there were. She makes a valiant attempt at conversation even though she now hears very little, even with her hearing aid, and probably doesn’t remember who you are...

She asked me if I was in school and what I was studying. Not hearing my answer, she proceeded to tell me she lived in Montana and Minnesota. She also told me she was 86 years old, which reinforces the theory that you are as young as you feel. She was still going for her annual birthday horse ride when she was in her eighties and still driving her carat ninety. She will be celebrating her 100th birthday in a few days. .it is great she thinks of herself as being 14 years younger than she really is. (Although it could be she is finally getting a little vain about herbage??? We'll know if she says she is 29 next year!!)

Lunch arrived during our visit and perhaps she's watching her girlish figure too closely. . or she's become a picky food critic. She didn't think the salmon loaf, green beans and potatoes were good enough to eat, until I had a few bites first! Even then she only ate one bite of salmon loaf and one string bean... She says the food upsets her stomach. Fortunately she still drinks her fortified milk and coffee!!

Holding her hand, feeling her soft silky skin, reminded me of her piano playing and many of my fond memories of her as I was growing up. She made the best potato pancakes, strawberry pie, and always had a cookie when you stopped by for a visit. I always loved seeing the cheery folk art painting Mom did on the kitchen cupboard doors. I wished we had video taped a session of "Cooking with Grandma Rose" to capture those recipes and techniques.

There were many exotic things around Grandma’s house. Dishes and souvenirs from her many adventures with Grandpa Phil. I was always impressed with her exercise routine which included swinging the medicine clubs around. They were a little dangerous for a beginner like me.

I also enjoyed hearing about the wild prohibition days when Grandma worked at the border checking to see if any of the women going across the border had bottles of booze hidden in their skirts.

It seems that music was always part of Grandma Rose's life. She always seemed to enjoy hearing us play music for her, no matter how many mistakes we made. And I don't think she missed an episode of LawrenceWelk (a one and a two)... She would always make time for a few songs on the piano when anyone asked to hear her play. My favorite songs she played were "Mountain Bell Schottische" and "Whisperings of Love". One winter she broke her ankle and stayed with us at the farm. I was about11 or 12 and I never dreamed I would be able to play these beautiful complex sounding songs.

Grandma was sooooooo patient!! She had lost the sheet music for these songs long ago. So she played a few measures of the song...and then I would play those few measures of the song. Before the cast came off her ankle, I was playing both songs by heart. I had all of her pauses, etc. memorized. This was really a special time for me. And even years later, I still remember these two songs trills and all.

As I sat next to Grandma Rose in her wheel chair and holding her hand, I asked her if she would like to play a few songs on the piano...she said no. A little while later I asked if she would like to hear me playa few songs. Her face lit up and she said enthusiastically, "Sure, I’d like that!" So, I rolled her down the hall in her wheel chair to the piano. I sat down on the bench and began to play "Whisperings of Love." You could see in her face that she recognized the music...and when I had finished the song she applauded and smiled. And then she asked “Did you play that in the Key of G??" I nodded yes and she said “Yes, I played that in the Key of G too..."

After playing "Mountain Bell Schottische" a few times, Grandma Rose finally agreed to play a little on the piano. She warmed up with some impressive chording up and down the keyboard. And she played little of "My Wild Irish Rose" before heading off to her afternoon nap.

Music is truly magical, even at 100 years old we can still communicate just fine with music and touch. It was such a treat to have yet another music jam session with Grandma Rose.

Thank you Grandma Rose...your music is a gift that will continue to bring me joy and live on with me long after you're in heaven.

I love you and God Bless You!!

Happy 100th Birthday!!

/s/ Kris

 

ou and God Bless You!!

Happy 100th Birthday!!

/s/ Kris