Her husband was Jacob B. Hofer. Yes, my mom was a Hofer before she married my dad—and they were not related. And those middle initials were just that, initials. Usually given for a parent's name.
|Grandma Katie, Aunt Bina, Grandpa Jacob|
She'd race me to the one bathroom in the house and get mad when I beat her to it, slurp her food, and leave pee droplets on the toilet that she rarely flushed.
And me? I was a cantankerous snot.
Dad enjoys telling the story of me throwing a fit one time at the dinner table. I got down on the floor, laid on my back, shook my fists and legs in the air and screamed. Grandma Katie said to him, "Hit her on the ass."
Dad said he thought he heard her wrong, so he asked her what she said and she repeated it. Then he scolded her, "Grandma, we don't use such language in this house."
He said that Grandma shrugged her shoulders and put her hands up and innocently replied, "Doesn't seem so bad to me. She got a ass."
Bad grammar and all. That's how she responded.
|Katie & Jacob, my mom's parents|
Maybe that's why I irritated Grandma Katie so much. She thought I needed more discipline. But my parents did believe in spanking (one time I threw Dad's watch and boy did I get it).
I do have a couple of fond memories of Grandma Katie though. She would share her dried fruit with me that she got on birthdays and at Christmas.
I guess that's the reason I eat like a little old lady, for I enjoy tasty prunes, dates, and dried apricots, dried cherries, and the like.
One time I was home alone with Grandma in the evening. I watched her count her money in her coin purse. She would often go in her room in the middle of the day and close the door. Mom said she was counting her money.
Then she told me a tornado story. She claimed they had to shut a rooftop door, certainly not a sky light window but something like that, and they saw the twister up in the sky.
I don't remember enough of the details to say she was fictionalizing this for my young ears or if it really happened.
That is the fondest memory I have of my Grandma Katie. In fact, it's the only conversation I remember having with her.
|Grandma Katie laughing with Mom|
Maybe that's why being an aunt has always been a big deal to me.
I never saw Grandma Katie in a pair of pants; she always wore dresses. Always covered her head with a scarf when in church. And she wore bloomers. Real bloomers.
She had her quirks too. The night before a trip to town, she'd set out her coat with her purse all ready to go. My mom was similar, a planner. I can't say that I am not like that. Young eyes are impressionable.
She enjoyed sitting outside with a flyswatter and killing any bugger that got close enough.
She'd yell at the television when her soap opera characters were stupid. She'd say, "He'll get his." Can't say that I don't do the same thing. I do talk to the TV whether it's the characters, politicians, or basketball players. Young ears are impressionable.
Grandma Katie's maiden name was Kleinsasser, and she was her husband's second wife. Jacob B. Hofer had been married before, to Katie's sister, but she'd died.
Grandpa passed away when my mom was nearly 15-years-old. Grandma had an auction and sold all they owned. And when she paid all their debts, all she had left was $40.
Forty Dollars to your name. In 1940.
Probably why she always counted the money in that coin purse of hers. That'd be only $670 in 2015 according to saving.org. That would barely pay one month's rent in some places today.
|Aunt Bina, Aunt Grace, & my mom Stella with their mother|
Aunt Grace, her other daughter, was already married. Aunt Bina worked at the Red Owl grocery story, and while in high school, my mom worked at the cafe.
Grandma Katie picked turkey and geese for Walt Hofer of Doland who owned a produce company. She didn't have a car, so people would have to take her to work. She also painted and shocked bundles.
Dad said people in those days would take a jug of water and sew a gunnysack tightly around it to insulate it. After one shock was bundled, they'd set the jug inside to keep it out of the sun. After a hard day of work, Grandma told Dad she would say, "My feet didn't carry me home. I had to drag 'em home."
Later, after Aunt Bina married Jean Board, Grandma lived with them for many years. In her later years, Mom agreed to take her in, for Aunt Grace had taken care of her mother-in-law, so my mom only thought it was fair to take her turn looking after an aging parent.
Dad's office moved to an upstairs room and my parents made a bedroom for Grandma downstairs. She had her privacy on the west side of the house. Thus began the days of me annoying Grandma, for I remember her often saying in plain English, "Quit looking at me" when my little eyes would stare at the old woman in front of me.
|Grandma Katie with five of her great-grandkids:|
Jessica, Evelynn, Michael, Colleen & Suzanne
When I see pictures of Grandma Katie and a picture of me where I'm pretty intense and not smiling, I look just like her. I inherited her long face and her pouty, down-turned lips.
She lived to a ripe age of 92 and died the spring of my senior year in 1984. She would have been 124-years-old this July 29, 2015. Oh, how the world has changed since her passing 31 years ago, let alone her birth in 1891.
I'm sure she'd say I still need a good swattin' because I do a pretty good job of carrying her disposition sometimes, and when that happens, I'm known to say, "I'm grumpy."
I'm thankful I got to watch my mother faithfully take care of her mother in those later years. What an example of love that was, for I never heard Mom complain or send an angry word her way. Never.
Have you ever had a cantankerous relative to deal with? Or maybe it was you? Any fond memories of old people you barely remember?