Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ann Mix Domelle

I just got a scanner finally at home, so am very excited to begin scanning old pictures. In the meantime, I got to thinking about pictures of family that I have, and below is one of my favorite pictures of my grandmother (my mom's mom). There is one other that I love, but we'll save that for another day.

I don't know where this was taken, but it is labelled 1960. That would make Ann a few years older than me in this picture and I think she looks just beautiful. As a little girl I always vaguely associated my grandma with Elizabeth Taylor because she also had short dark hair, and whenever we went somewhere, the first stop was in the bathroom to put on red, red lipstick.

Ann Mix was born back in the 20s in New York, in the Finger Lakes area. She talks about that landscape, the rolling hills and farms with a wistfulness. She did not have an easy childhood, she grew up during the depression, and survived going without during the 30s and the 40s during the second World War. Those of us born after that I don't think will ever understand what it is to go without. We have everything we want at our fingertips, at the 24-hour convenience store, at the 24-hour grocery store and Wal-Mart. We (I do, I admit it), get annoyed if exactly what we want is not available. I am wasteful. My grandma still cleans and re-uses ziploc bags. There is nothing wrong with doing that, it comes from the Depression when you used what you had as long as you could.

She speaks of seeing her mother cooking, cooking, cooking. We even took a trip once, a bunch of family, to New York, to track down all the places they lived up there. We found the little old farmhouse where my grandma remembers being a child. We stood in the ramshackle kitchen filled with debris, and she pointed to the corner and said "That's where my mother made pancakes." In the other corner was where she remembered the wooden table and chairs they all sat at. She said, "My father would say to my mother, 'Nelia, can't you control these kids?'". Her mother's name was Cornelia. My grandmother had 7 brothers and 2 sisters (twins). Yikes!

There are lots of little tidbits I could tell you, some good like those above, some not so good. I don't want to say the not-so-good one's in print out of respect for my grandma. She would regret telling me then because she comes from a time when things were not so open as they are now. We regurgitate our entire lives and psyche out into the ether for everyone to see (and comment on). It used to be done in whispers, out of earshot of the children.

My grandmother gave me some of my best memories. She used to wash my hair and comb it out so gently. No one ever combed my hair like my grandma. She called the knots in my long hair "gnarls". She is the first person that explained what the word "buttocks" meant to me. I was about 6 or 7 years old, and we were laying up in the bed in the spare room. It was a summer night, and the windows were open, and the curtains were blowing just a little. The bed was up against the window to get the breeze. And then she told me. I must have laughed for a good 5 minutes, I couldn't believe what a dumb sounding word that was. She laughed right along with me, belly laughs in the dark. I think of that now when I see my mother laughing with her grand-children.

My grandma used to bring me chocolate kisses without me asking! Wow! Mom never did that! :-D Also, in the summer, I guess she must have hated leftovers, because when it was later in the evening and time for ice cream, she would just divide up the whole rectagular package of ice cream between us all! I wonder where my sugar addiction came from! :-)

I can also credit her with my ability to walk softly as a cat. She lives in a twin, and never liked the idea of the neighbors hearing you stomp around. She actually got all of us, whenever we were there, to walk quietly. To this day, I can give my father a heart-attack at any time I deem necessary. Of course, maybe he should stop sitting with his back to the door....pad, pad, pad, WHATAREYOUDOINGDAD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

My grandma used to feed all us kids off of pink depression-ware plates. Can you believe that? I loved those plates so much. They were "American Sweetheart", I looked it up. I have a sugar bowl in my kitchen. It doesn't match a thing in the house, because it's pink, and glass, but I love that sugar bowl because it represents my grandmother.

My grandmother is very old now, she doesn't remember things so well, it is the hearkbreak of old age that some people start to lose little bits of their lives. But I remember, I will always remember. She did not, has not had an easy life, but that never stopped her from showering love all over me. I was drenched in it all my childhood. And I appreciate it and love her so much for it!!!

Call your grandma today!!! She'll be so happy to hear from you!



  1. Your grandma tells me she thinks of you every day!

  2. I loved hearing about your grandmother. My grandmother was very special to me (my other grandma died when I was 9 months old so I didn't know her). My grandmother died several years ago, and you are right, it is very hard as peple age and lose bits of their lives.

  3. Aw that was so sweet to read! Your grandmother was very beautiful! My grandmother has pretty much lost her mind to senile dementia... I lived with her for two years about 2 years ago and she still asks my grandfather where I am and why I'm not home yet :(

  4. Yes, she was such a jokester when she was younger. I recall one time she said, "Come here, Richard, taste this." And she fed me a heaping spoonful of raw horseradish. My sinuses SNAPPED wide open, blood vessels burst in both eyes, my throat constricted to the point where I could barely breathe. I recall she laughed and laughed. HA HA, good times!

  5. AHA! I just KNEW you were a writer! You are so busted. And what else do you write, praytell? Spill.

  6. Oh, that was me, above.
    Kristin Walker

  7. Leah, you have the most amazing ability to write. I wish I were as good as you. The memories you have of your grandmother make me envious. I never really knew, or liked, my grandmothers. They were all mean, sour women. Your relationship with yours is something I'd always wanted with mine. I hope you will always remember how lucky you are/were.

    And to Rich: did she ever feed you baking chocolate? My own mother did that to me - ONCE! It's a tradition I've passed down to my own. ;-)