December 20, 2007

103 years ago today... great-grandmother Olive gave birth to a baby girl who would one day become my fathers mother. She named her Ona... no middle name. After giving birth to 13 children, she had since run out of ideas for middle names, so Ona Mowrer it would be.

I have been blessed in my life to have had two wonderful grandmothers. Both smart, skillful and independent women. Today, I celebrate what would be Gramma Ona's 103rd birthday. She left this world 4 years ago in October and I think of her so often and miss her tremendously. I have very few regrets in my life, but one of them would definitely be that I didn't spend as much time with either of my gramma's during my early adulthood.

There are so many things I love about my grandmother.

She was a trailblazer and never even realized it. Unlike many young women of her day, she graduated from high school. She married a few years later and had three boys: Gerald, William and Lawrence (my father). During the height of The Great Depression she and her boys were abandoned by her husband. Being a single mother in those days was looked down upon, but she was committed to raising her boys. In an era where women did not work outside the home, she took a job as a seamstress in a shoe factory, where she worked until the factory shut down and she retired some 40 years later.

She was green before it was cool. She grew her own vegetables, baked her own breads, recycled everything! She was definitely a "waste-not, want-not" kind of lady.

She was a domestic diva long before Martha Stewart was even born. I swear she could cook, bake, grow and sew anything. I loved learning from her.

Some other fun facts:

  • She loved yoga.

  • She walked everywhere. She never owned a car or had a driver's license.

  • She cut her grass with a manual push mower (no gasoline powered mowers for her) until she was in her early 90's.

  • She put out a big garden every year and tended to it each day.

  • She loved to wear a little sun/bucket hat.

I think my fondest memories of her relate to my birthday and a special tradition she began. As a little girl, each year for my birthday, she would bake me a lamb cake. It is a homemade angel food cake baked into a lamb shaped pan. It's frosted with 7-minute icing and coconut flakes. I can recall so vividly getting that big box in the mail. Dad would put it on the table and carefully cut it open, causing all of the real popcorn to come flooding out onto the table. For the rest of my life, this will always be my favorite birthday cake. I am blessed to have her special pan and her hand-written recipe for that cake.

Happy Birthday Gramma! I love you and miss you!

Happy 39th Anniversary to Mom & Dad!


  1. Now that IS a family tradition and an heirloom to treasure! Wow, the pan and the recipe handwritten. I love how vivid memory is to you...

    What a cool woman your grandmother was.. Hmmm, makes me "know" you a bit better.

  2. i love this post, loved reading about your amazing grandmother. i just spent an hour yesterday with both of my grandparents - too often i don't make special time to sit down and chat with them.

    would love to see a photo of a lamb cake, if you make one!


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