This is the only picture I have of both of my grandmothers together and not with anyone else. The lady on the left is my maternal grandmother, Vesta Christina Wilt Johnson. I knew her as Nana. Grandma Amore (Ella Marie House) passed away fifteen years before I was born. In fact I don’t even know if that’s what her other grandchildren called her. In our house she was referred to as Mom Amore (by my mother). It seems odd that I think of her as “Ella” or as my dad’s mom instead of as my grandmother.
They are together in this picture because they both were in Montana to see my parents while my Mom was pregnant with my sister. Apparently my grandfather, Lloyd Amore, didn’t want to fly out there.
Nana lived until I was 22 so I knew her very well. I never remembered that she was that tall though; probably due to her osteoarthritis as her age advanced and she seemed “shorter”. She always had a smile on her face – even through her many hospitalizations later on. Nana always had a stash of kid friendly candy and cookies. She was a good cook and had sewn quite a bit. Since she and my grandfather had lived in many different places and she had traveled extensively, their home was decorated with beautiful artwork and figurines. She had a prized Hummel collection that I loved to look at. Nana always thought the best about people. She tried to find that one small thing within each person that made them unique and special. She loved all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren the same – yet she loved each of us as if we were the only one. One of the best gifts she ever gave me was the knowledge that no matter what I did, where I went or who I became, she would always love me unconditionally. At a time in my teenage years when nothing could go right and I was always doing something wrong, that knowledge kept me from going over the deep end. She only got to meet one of my children and saw a picture of my second daughter days before she died. Yet I know that she is my guardian angel and is looking down on me and my family. I don’t know how she’d feel about me reading the love letters she wrote to my grandfather before they were married, but somehow I think she’d get a twinkle in her eye and tell me that she had to maintain some type of mystery – even from her children and grandchildren – about what a passionate woman she was. Nana didn’t have to lecture. She taught by example and by her love. And for that I will always be grateful.
Grandma Amore is more than a woman of mystery since I never met her or felt her grandmother’s love. My dad thought the world of his mother and I think, as her “baby”, she probably spoiled him a little. I wish I could find a colored picture of her because I’ve been told her hair was auburn. My cousins (much older than me) have never really told me any stories about our grandmother for me to form any sort of opinion. I guess I don’t feel her loss because she was never a part of my life. I often wonder what was going through her mind when she learned she had breast cancer. I also wonder that if the technology of today was around in the 1940’s if it could have saved her life. Would her survival have changed the course of my father’s life? Would it have impacted mine in a more dramatic way?
I’m just glad that with this picture, there is a snapshot of my grandmother’s together. That even though I only grew up knowing one, I still had two. Possibly Ella’s been looking down on me as well.
Thank you, Nana and thank you, Grandma Amore, for the legacies you’ve left through your children and all those family members who knew you.