I only knew my great-grandmother for the brief 3 1/2 years our lives overlapped. And I guess using the word "knew" is a bit of a stretch for a toddler. My first-hand memories of her are set in a nursing home, where she spent her final days, as arthritis had left her severely crippled.
I think the connection I feel with my great-grandmother comes though the many stories and references to her I heard growing up; I developed an idea of her at an early age - and I don't think my idea was too far off. Imogene Penhorwood was truly the matriarch of her family: strong, hard-working, and dare I say, domineering. She was raised on a farm, married to a minister, and raised three sons and a daughter. She embraced a leadership role among the women of her church and was affectionately known by them as "Mother Pen". Her youngest son was my grandfather, whom I enjoyed a close relationship with until his death just last year. I think much of his wit and humor could be attributed to "Imo", which was the nickname she went by with her family.
My mom says of her grandma, "She was a woman full of grace and poise; I loved and admired her because I witnessed how much pain she would be in, yet always had a smile for everyone and was so cordial and cheerful!"
The photos we have of her make me smile...and make me wonder, "How can you miss someone you never even knew?"
The two unique pieces of jewelry I inherited from her aren't priceless - or even timeless! In fact, the bracelet especially seems to be a product of its era (maybe the 50s or 60s). The crystal necklace may be a strand from a bigger piece, as I have noticed from the photograph where Imogene appears to be wearing it.
But whether or not they carry any "value", they are precious to me because they were hers. She held them, she wore them, they went places with her. I'm thankful to have a small sliver of her for my own.
I hope my life reflects her legacy and I hope to pass that legacy (and these fun pieces of jewelry) on to my daughter as well.
- blog by Beth Paschal
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