My Outdoor Grandma

On August 14, 2013, my grandmother Arlene Dymock passed away unexpectedly. As I sat at her bedside, I searched my mind to recall all of the good moments before they faded. I realized that most of my outdoor childhood memories contained her. Whether hiking the trail to Angel’s Landing or four-wheeling in Moab, she was there.

This was taken when she was around 78 or 79. Two weeks before she passed at 83, she told my aunt she wanted to ride again.

My grandma came to age just after World War II and had most of her children in the fifties. We tend to think of this as the generation of women who sent their menfolk off to work and adventure while they darned socks. I don’t know if this was true for most women, but it wasn’t for my grandma. She was at deer camp, on the trail, and out in the yard.

When I was little, I would ask my dad if I could ride her three-wheeler with her. His reply, “Only if you ask her to be careful.” He didn’t trust her lead finger.

Waiting for Grandma to take me for a ride.

She had a small rug she kept on the back so that us grandkids didn’t have to sit right on the rails. Off we went with my arms wrapped around her softness. With her sunglasses on and her hair kept back with a bandana (this was before we wore helmets), I defy anyone to have a cooler grandma.

She raised her daughters to keep up with the boys. They learned to slalom water ski right along with everyone else. And when I was born, it didn’t occur to my dad to treat me any differently than my older brothers.

I also learned by her example that being rough and tumble didn’t mean you had to sacrifice your femininity. Even after a day of ploughing through the mud, she’d come out later with her hair just so (that’s what the bandana was for) and a nice blouse. I’m still trying to figure out how to master this. It seemed like whenever she kissed me goodbye, I’d have to rub the lipstick off my face.

Being at deer camp wasn’t an excuse to look bad.

I had to write this post because every time someone expresses sympathy to me at her passing, I want to sit them down and tell them all about what a woman she is. Our family’s grief is only a testament to her love.

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