Today is my birthday, and in 40 years it is the first time I’ll not be able to share this day with my Grandma Wright. You see, her birthday was also November 16th, and this gave us a special connection. Every year I would give her a call sometime during the day and we would wish each other a Happy Birthday and talk about what we had done to celebrate. She would always know who it was as soon as I said ‘Hello Grandma’. Sharing a birthday made it really easy to never forget to give her a call.
Lillian Beatrice Wright was born in Bellevue, Idaho on November 16, 1919. She was a lifelong Bellevue resident until moving to Twin Falls in 2008 to live in an assisted living facility there. You can read her obituary here. She was a true western woman. She wore pants to my wedding, I never saw her in a dress. She didn’t shop at the grocery store, she ‘traded’. She could shoot a gun and had successfully hunted deer. She was an avid gardener who hated cats. She raised four kids and was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She endured the loss of her husband and two adult children, and was the oldest surviving member of her family.
Visiting Grandma and Grandpa was always a big deal for us as kids, I loved coming out to Idaho and doing all the fun things we got to do in that small town with beautiful mountains: driving Grandpa’s pickup with a little assistance from him, shooting guns up in the canyon, exploring the neighborhood, going fishing, and traveling up into the mountains to hike and explore. I remember one time when we were in town and the block across from Grandma’s was still a pasture, my cousin Robbie and I went over with the BB gun and he saw a skunk. He stopped me and quietly pumped the gun, then shot the skunk and we all ran (I think he might have managed to kill it, I don’t remember for sure). Grandma said that if we had been sprayed by a skunk we wouldn’t be allowed back in the house, but would be sleeping outside that night.
Grandma was a great cook, and food was always a big part of any visit. Her freezer was always stocked with push pops and she always had our favorite cereal in stock. Out of that little kitchen would come fantastic meals, and not just of the typical grandma variety, although she had great renditions of noodles and mashed potatoes. She made lots of interesting items and liked to try new things, including Mexican dishes, and she loved pizza. The second time Laura and I visited together, she and I went up into Ketchum to explore a little bit. We always invited Grandma, but she preferred to stay home and hear about our adventures after we returned home that evening. We had lunch in a little cafe (cuff-AY as Grandma pronounced it) and we ordered a chicken salad sandwich that was really good. It had some interesting spices and lots of extra things in it and when we came back we told Grandma about it. The next day we were headed home, and we decided to leave north through Stanley, and so Grandma decided to pack us a lunch. Without telling us ahead of time, she went into the kitchen and put together a little of this and a little of that and the next morning when we left there were a couple of chicken sandwiches waiting for us to take with us. I think I remember her’s being better than what we had up in Ketchum.
Grandma loved babies and children. She also loved little baby bottoms. She had lots of home movies of all of us grandkids as babies, completely naked, with shots of the bottoms. I remember when we came to visit her with Audrey when she was only about 3 months old. We made sure to give Audrey a bath in her kitchen sink, and Grandma really liked that. We still say to the girls just like Grandma said “Look at that precious little body”.
So like all of her friends and family, I’ll be missing Grandma on her birthday. I may not be able to give her a call today, but I have a lot of great memories to remember her by.