After almost three-and-a-half years writing this blog, it doesn’t feel like there are many areas of my grandparents’ life I haven’t retroactively invaded.
This week I’ll stick my nose into a place I’ve mentioned before but have never said much about. There’s no big historical reveal this week, just a snapshot of my grandfolks going about their daily business.
Or, more accurately, their Sunday business.
I know my grandparents and great-grandma attended the Springdale Methodist Church across the street from their house, but I don’t remember religion ever seeming like a defining part of their lives.
There was no Bible on the coffee table, no chapter-and-verse in their conversation, and no crosses or pictures of Jesus hanging on the walls. There was low-key grace before big holiday meals, but that was about it.
My other grandparents, who were Catholic, would sometimes seek out the local Catholic church when they were visiting us, so they wouldn’t miss Mass.
I don’t remember my dad’s folks ever doing that. I’m sure they visited the church my family attended in the Rochester area, back when we attended one. But I think they were there to meet my family’s friends, hear my dad play organ and generally get a glimpse of our lives, not because they felt like they couldn’t miss a week of worship.
When my dad’s folks moved to Rochester, I think church took even less of a role in their lives. I remember my grandma’s funeral being conducted by a rented padre, which suggests there was no priest in town who knew her well.
(I should be warmer of heart. The man of the cloth did the best job he could given the circumstances. It was clear he was working off a hastily acquired Cliff’s Notes on Corine Blumenau, not from any deep personal acquaintance.)
But I’m getting well ahead of myself here.
My grandparents, while not drum-bangers for the Lord, were regular churchgoers during their years on Hope Street. And this week’s calendar entry finds them taking care of a classic bit of church business — arranging for flowers for the altar.
According to the calendars, my grandparents were responsible for dealing with the flowers throughout September and October 1972. It doesn’t look like they had to buy them, more like they had to get them on the altar before services and dispose of them afterward.
My grandma took extensive and detailed notes on that responsibility, probably to my grandpa’s chagrin. She barely left him room to squeeze in the daily weather, much less any notes on anything else that happened that day.
My grandparents might have climbed Mount Washington on the 1st and held a backyard nudist party on the 2nd. I’ll never know, because there was no room on the calendar to mention it. Thanks, Grandma.
The name “CARRIE” is my grandpa’s other contribution to these entries; it appears to be in his hand. I don’t know who she was. Perhaps she was the “Mrs. Bachman” mentioned in my grandma’s note.
(It wasn’t Stephen King’s Carrie; she was still taking shape in her creator’s head in the fall of 1972. And anyway, my grandparents weren’t horror buffs.)
This fragment of family history, while not fully sketched out, fits my image of my grandparents to a T.
Disposing of flowers or baking oatmeal squares for church gatherings are just the kinds of low-key things they would have done to support the church community — and, by extension, worship the Lord.
I’ll imagine them, then, in their modest Sunday best, each with a vase in both hands, putting the flowers gently on the rear floor of Mrs. Bachman’s Rambler American.
Well done, good and faithful servants.