Posts Tagged ‘Nancy Reagan’

 “A woman is like a tea bag, you can not tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Nancy Reagan.

Travels With Maggie

Photo of my great-grandfather and my great-grandmother with my grandmother, Iva Mae, on the left, and her younger sister on the right. I never met any of these people.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother, my mother’s mother and the only grandparent I ever knew. She died when I was 11. Now, for some strange reason, all the things I don’t know about this person, the only one in my young life whom I was sure loved me, frustrates me.

The little I do know of Mamie Truesdale Lee, who died in 1950, is that she divorced her first husband, for which the Catholic Church excommunicated her, then later married my grandfather, Charles Forrest Lee, who died when I was only two years old. My mother tells me he was gentle man and that I inherited my love of travel from him, that and my middle name of Lee, which is why I dubbed my RV Gypsy Lee.

But it’s my grandmother’s spirit, the person who they say made bathtub gin during prohibition, and the tiny spitfire of a women who was my mother, Kathryn Lee Joseph, that travel with me and Maggie

The two stuffed birds I've named to remind that I come from strong women stock when Maggie and I are traveling down the road. The condor on the left is Mamie, after my grandmother, and the chickadee on the right is Kathryn after my mother. And yes, it's OK if you want to laugh at my foolishness. I have tough skin. I came by it honestly. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Both of them were strong women who survived tough times and fought the genteel images society expected of them in their days. To remind me of the female strength in my genes, I have reminders on my dashboard to help me through travel emergencies, like a blown tire, or a snowy, slick canyon road.

Laugh if you will, it’s OK. But the reminders are stuffed birds – ones with squeakers that imitate their calls. There’s a condor, purchased at Idaho’s wild Birds of Prey Sanctuary, named Mamie because my grandmother was a large imposing woman. And then there’s a stuffed Chickadee named Kathryn that I found at a Yellowstone National Park gift shop. Chickadees are tiny, but loud, and that is how I best remember my mother.

I started thinking about my grandmother a week or so ago when my son, Lewis, who lives in Texas, sent me a picture of my father’s mother and her mother, both of whom had died before I was born. He’s been researching our family history, and was all excited about the discovery.

I started this blog to tell you about these two women, but then I realized that I had nothing to say because all I know about them is what I can seduce from the photograph my son sent me. While it does stir my imagination, I find the story of the son of a Portuguese sailor who jumped ship in New England and propagated my Texas roots more fascinating.

Tune in tomorrow for that story.

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