On June 10, 1912 my grandmother Ina Mae Cowley was born. Later in her adult life she became Ina Mae Graves and eventually Ina Mae Pommaz, which is the name I grew up knowing her by. We lost her in February of 1996, just four months shy of her 84th birthday. It wasn't until she was gone that I realized how much I had lost when she passed away. It always seems like we realize in retrospect just how much someone had an influence on our life. If she was still with us, she would have turned 98 today.
I don't know a lot about her life as a child. But I have a wonderful little photo album that belonged to her that I like to imagine gives me a little glimpse into her life as a young woman. It's filled with old black & white photos of her friends, family members and of course her. Some of the photos don't have have captions or explanations and I like to make up stories in my head about the men in the stiff suits and big cowboy hats...or the girl standing with her back to the camera all alone with the old car in the background.
But I don't have to make up stories about my memories of her--Like being a small child and playing out in the backyard of her house with my sister, with the hum & rattle of her rock tumbler running in the garage. Or looking through the large encyclopedias she had, trying to figure out all of the riddles & optical illusions.
The place I have the most memories about though is the mobile home she lived in for years in Long Beach. (The same mobile home I rode my bicycle to when I was only about 7 years old and got mad at my sister who was babysitting me. This little trip took me all the way from our house near Studebaker & Atherton to her mobile home park off Lyons Drive, just past the Edison plant!) I remember sitting at a table in her "goody room" (the extra room in her mobile home that was filled with every kind of craft notion you could imagine), while she patiently showed me how to thread beads on a wire to make a bracelet. This room was a treasure trove for a little girl. It's where I learned about Christmas card ornaments, Mod Podge and turquoise & bone jewelry. I also remember the fascinating knick-knacks in her living room like her Kewpie Doll collection and the interesting things her son (my Uncle David) sent to her from Australia & New Zealand. I remember the stacks of romance paperback books she had in her bedroom. And as a teenager, I remember the times that I had cramps so bad they would make me sick to my stomach. My grandmother would come get me at school, since my mom was working, and take me to her mobile home. She would take me to her bedroom and put me in her bed, propped up with pillows so I could watch the Twilight Zone & Little House on the Prairie reruns. She would always bring a hot water bottle in and lay it on my abdomen and make me tea.
It's looking back on memories like these, as an adult, that remind me what a wonderful person she was and how much I probably under-appreciated her when I was younger. I'm happy that I got to have her in my life for as long as I did, especially since my Grandmother Heinrich on my dad's side passed away when I was only one year old. I'm glad I get to have my memories of her. I've been thinking of her today and just wanted to do something to show how much she meant to me.
Happy Birthday Grandma...I miss you....