Feb 17, 2011

A BELATED VALENTINE for RUBY TURNER BEARDSLEY and FAMILY: ¨ I saw her quick fantasmalike image one night in the kitchen but she didn´t seem to notice me¨

Ruby Turner Beardsley, my Grandmother
Day after day I approach life doing all those things that I think will enhance life around me (sometimes more successfully than other times)...things like  keeping nature thriving in my garden, cooking up a storm with fresh foods in my kitchen, greeting friends neighbors as I run errands to buy fresh bread or hot tortillas and while creating the landscape art that keeps growing out from/before me in my studio (which also doubles as a living room when I uncover all the furniture in the 30´ x 30´ sala/gallery snapshot of my colorful life) .  I treasure the sounds of the birds and dogs that live at our house on the Calle Real in the campo/small village of Central America today and even the wind chimes and the sometimes booming live volcano add to the orchestration ...and then there are the times in my day when I´m very deeply consumed with memories, mostly while I´m painting, of being grateful for all that has come my way and for all those who have come before me who added textured real character and overall well-being to my 67 year old life.

There is no place like home even when nobody lives there anymore

My Grandparents The Beardsleys in the Center, flanked by Camerons and Turners, Family all

My mothers father and mother were hard working people who I remember as being quiet--my grandfather read a lot-- as they went about their daily, often difficult, work of living the life that opened in front of their rural Idaho everyday.  My Grandfather, Arch Beardsley, who came ¨west¨ from Iowa, was a engineer/mathematician for the mines, both Silver (closeby) and Gold (Nevada).  My Grandmother, Ruby Turner Beardlsey was the daughter of one of the original pioneers to Southern Idaho.  My Great Grandfather,  Frank Turner (name changed from Jackson) and his wife Emma, half Pawnee/Native American, were rancher/farmers at the foot of a lovely mountain in the Wood River Valley.  They had many children but two died the very same day as a nasty influenza swept through the small town (I later found the black edged death/funeral cards announcing their burial as well as those of my Great Grandparents--all sent off by the little Episcopal Church just a block down the street to the Happy Hunting Ground/Heaven and buried in the ¨old families¨ plot at the nearby cemetery).

I inherited my grandparents home and then spent the next two years making it ¨wonderful¨ (I planted hundreds of gladiolus bulbs exactly where grandma planted hers--they grew gorgeous again)

Later, I inherited my Beardsley Grandparents home (my sister Marilynn generously gave me her half after my Mom died) and I spent the next two years living in it and restoring it and making it ¨wonderful¨--quite a task as it was over 100 years old, added on and on, had been abandoned, had no central heating and the grounds compromised five full lots that were all overgrown fruit/maple/other trees, flower gardens, chicken houses, a corner pasture (with barbed wire fencing) and assorted other decaying outbuildings stuffed full of miscellaneous ¨stuff¨...there was a metal foundation embedded in the kitchen floor where the old wood cooking stove had rested for decades (but the stove had been stolen as the house was stripped of  any ¨saleables¨ over the years before I moved in)....the most ¨modern¨ thing in the house was a complete add-on indoor bathroom that had been added when my mother was a pre-teen.

I can still smell my grandmothers heavenly cooking in black skillets on the ancient wood stove

I had sold my small condominium in San Juan/Condado, Puerto Rico to finance this project and I also used part of the same money to open a little studio/gallery in nearby Ketchum/Sun Valley, just up the road (I was a member of the Sun Valley Gallery Association).  I worked on the house and worked in my studio and was reminded daily of my childhood when I awoke in the freezing cold morning in that old house (which got replaced with cozy central heating) but the heavenly cooking smells coming from my Grandmas skillets when cooking on the ancient wood stove would never be improved upon with my electric stove culinary skills.  Some things didn´t improve the ambiance in that old house with modernazation including the acceptance, easy love and underlying human decency and warmth that were constant and somehow remained intact through the years of decay--and, of course,  I missed the live chickens, the black labador dogs (always named Butch) and my Grandma busily going from one duty to the next (although I did see her quick ¨fantasma¨ type image one night in the kitchen but she didn´t seem to notice me) .  I often remembered grandma plucking chickens in the sink and cooking donuts and rushing out to the chilly adjoining pantry room for supplies (a room I later coverted to a garden room complete with it´s own picture windows and private patio) because there was no refrigerator in that kitchen when I was a child.  My Grandmother had three children and she was a devoted parent.  Aunt Agnes, was a single lady, notable local citizen and grade school teacher....she was sweet and nice to me but I bearly remember her as she died in 1949 of a stroke (I do vividly remember her open coffin in the parlor and her purple dress and the huge outpouring of grief from the community).  My Uncle Dick was a WWII  hero/medalist and all-around outdoorsman, bachelor, mayor and silent/handsome guy.  My Mother was Miss Blaine County (and awarded a gorgeous Diamond Pave Butterfly by P. Lorillard Kent) as a teen but moved away to the ¨big city¨ and had her own ¨successes¨ soon after high school (she had been valedictorian).

I miss Idaho today and the Idaho of before today

Yes, my solo adventures into living in the past are quite rewarding and memorable both then and now and in so many inspirational ways too...that old house was quiet/still but I was always busy with remodeling and reliving memories with those who loved one another as they loved me too.  I miss them but I think they are with me still, even several ¨borders¨ away.

Leonardo Ricardo (Lenny) visiting grandparents as a child

With love,

Leonardo Ricardo (Lenny)

·  Thanks to Jeff Fisher, Nephew, Family Pictures


susan s. said...

What a lovely remembrance of your family. It couldn't have been an easy life out there at that time. Of course all our grands and great grands had it physically harder than we ever will. You have some great memories Leonardo. Thank you for sharing them.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Thank you Susan, my grandmother and all her loved ones and family have been on my mind for days--it´s interesting to me that right up to the last moments of her life she was full of smiles and loved to hold hands--she had dementia but always greeted me and we chatted on and on and I sat and pretended that I understood what she was saying--in many ways I actually did understand as words didn´t mean much after a while--it´s the smile, the twinkle in the eye and the firm/sincere handholding that counts. She died quietly at my parents home one night and simply didn´t get up early in the morning...probably the first time she didn´t pop out of bed in the 85+ years of her very active life.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

BTW--she was returned to the cemetery in Idaho and buried there (now my parents are there too) with all the pioneer relatives in the ¨old families¨ section of the cemetery is is RIGHT NEXT to the land her father and mother ranched/farmed...I want to end up there too.

Peace under the starlit Idaho sky.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Beautiful, Leonardo. Your reminiscences remind me of my own maternal grandmother, who was a superb creole cook, but, best of all, she was the person who loved me with godly love, unconditionally. Her love and attention helped me survive the chaos of my life with an abusive, alcoholic father and a depressed, emotionally-distant mother.

Sadly, I never knew my paternal grandmother, as she died in the 1918 flu epidemic, leaving 5 children behind. Those who knew her said she was a lovely lady.

What a wonderful gift is your trip down memory lane, which sent me on my own bittersweet journey through the past. Thank you.