Today, Nov. 21, 2014, would be Catherine Louise Covert Anderson’s 100th birthday. You might be asking yourself “Who is that?” She was an amazing lady — and my Grandma Casey. She passed away two-and-a-half years ago at the age of 97, and is still greatly missed every day.
We always celebrated our birthdays together, since mine is a couple days after hers. To celebrate and honor her today, I thought I would share a little bit about her life and the inspiration she has given me.
Grandma grew up in Michigan and overcame polio as a toddler. When she was about 6, her family moved to California. This was no simple trek: It was a caravan of Model T Fords traveling across the country. Her older sister, Auntie M, documented the drive in an amazing journal of stories and drawings.
By the time my grandma was ready to go to college, the Great Depression was in full swing. She had been accepted to geology school in Alaska, but declined since she had a paying job.
Geology may not have been a popular interest for a young lady in the 1930s, but Grandma had collected rocks all her life. I can remember going to rock shows with her and getting a grab bag… of rocks! If we were lucky, it would have a geode or a polished amethyst. The bags were usually made out of pretty cotton fabrics with a drawstring, and she would let me pick the bag that I thought was the most pretty. Perhaps this was the start of my love of bags!
Instead of becoming a geologist, Grandma Casey became a bookkeeper and throughout her career worked for car dealerships, doctors and manufacturing companies. She worked until she was 80 years old! She was sharp as a tack and wouldn’t leave anything undone.
Grandma was also always reading books and learning about different things. She gave me a historical fiction book to read when I was in high school. This book really was the one that started my recreational reading — it was a good thing there were 13 books in the series!
Cooking was definitely not one of her favorite things to do, but the meals she’d prepare were always really good and special. Who would have thought that green olives would be good in a salad?
As far as needlework goes, I only saw her stitch one thing — and it took her at least 15 years to finish it! She started working on a crewel pillowcase. The colors in it were her among her favorites, so I think that is why she picked it. I always thought it was really pretty, too.
While in progress, the crewel project would sit beside her chair along with her books. The book pile would change — and the stitching would still be there. Grandma always wanted to finish what she started, though, so when she finally finished it, all of us persuaded her to frame it instead of the turning it into a pillow.
She also had a giant spinning wheel that took up a lot of wall and floor space in her home. This was from her side of the family. She had it restored and all the missing pieces replaced/made so it could be in working order. Someone in her family, probably her grandmother, was a spinner — so I guess it is possible that I get my fiber love from her side of the family as well. Maybe someday I will try to spin something on the wheel, but I would have a lot to learn first.
Grandma Casey had a major impact my life. She was excited and supportive when I started my business. Perhaps her handbag collection was also an inspiration to me. Whenever she would come over, it seemed like she always had a different purse. I couldn’t wait to see it! Maybe she liked bags, too, and that is why she was excited about Chic-a getting going!
Oh, there is so much! I am so thankful for memories, though, and being able to look back. Grandma Casey was the best grandmother I could have hoped for. The life she modeled is one to aspire to, and hopefully one I can model to my daughter and eventually to her family.
I have to admit, I have a pile of knitting sitting next to my books… but it’s the books that don’t move as much. 🙂
Happy birthday, Grandma!