Grandma Thomas was a Wonder. Literally, she was. She was born Ruth Katherine Wonder on April 24, 1897. My grandfather Orville Thomas married her in 1917 and together they had 8 children, the oldest child being almost thirty years old when the youngest was born.
I was named after my grandmother. We had a special connection because of that. But my memories of her are mostly of her being ill. We visited often, but it was because my Mom and her sisters were taking care of her; brushing her long hair and sweeping it up with tiny tortoise shell combs, washing her face as she lay in a dark bedroom, cleaning house, and catching up on laundry grandma could no longer handle.
Often there were huge molasses cookies in the cookie tin, despite her illness. And in a bureau drawer in the hallway, a hand puppet of Porky Pig that we were allowed to play with when we visited. An old upright piano in the living room fascinated me, until Mom would come out and quiet me down because grandma was resting. There were pictures of my grandmother and me when we were both a few years younger. For most of them I was too young to remember.
Grandma worked hard on the farm, milking cows, feeding hogs, growing a huge garden to feed the family, canning, butchering. She even found time to grow flowers, I remember making small dolls from the hollyhock blossoms with her. It was not an easy life. She was just 60 years old when she passed. The illnesses she suffered from (diabetes, heart disease) would be treatable nowadays but health care was different in the 50’s. I often wish I had more memories of Grandma, but I was just 7 years old when she left us. I cherish the memories that I have.