. Legacy of Lemon Lilies
Carrie Claire Stringham Hacking must have been some woman. Her name is exotically long and poetic, but she preferred to be called “Claire” by her friends. She lived long, crossing the generations to my own by a significant six months, a great-grandmother who held me briefly but whose legacy I know mostly through those who knew her better. Her name was mentioned again at a recent family gathering and anecdotes were shared. Oh, how important are the legacies we leave!
Apparently she objected when they planted the tiny spruce pine in her front yard as it would eventually block her view of the valley which it ultimately did as this tree now towers in the front yard nearly hiding the home from view as you drive past. For me that means she was wise enough to understand the implications of seemingly small decisions.
Faded mementos and pictures show she was a woman who gathered extended family and friends to her home on Sunday afternoons, wrote to grandchildren afar off at war, and signed her name with a curl and a flourish on birthday cards with personal notes of generosity and encouragement. Her use of the term “Grandmother” reveals a sense of formality and grace. It seems she well understood her place in life.
She must have been accustomed to occasional loneliness for she lived in her newly built brick home in the barren, arid desert region of eastern Utah for two long years while her husband served a mission in Germany shortly after their first daughter was born. A second daughter would be born with him away. Even in these early pictures, her eyes dance and her smile reaches out to bless and nurture.
And then, of course, there was her garden. Old photographs clearly show wire mesh protecting her tulips from the chickens and memories shared by contemporaries tell of her floral arrangements gracing coffins at funerals, graves on holidays, and the chapel on Sundays. Perennials were taken from this garden plot when she passed away and replanted in others’ gardens. In turn, her posterity have received these treasures to plant in their own yards and so lemon lilies grace my early summer days. They don’t bloom for more than a week reminding me Grandmother Hacking appreciated the value of hard work for even a few short days of glorious color in her yard.
I think she must have liked stars, too, dazzling downward on brilliant summer nights for her everyday glasses have stars floating around their middles. This glassware has been passed down and used for two generations now, recently shared with those of her great-granddaughters interested in keeping a part of “Grandmother” in their own lives.
She wasn’t one to worry about fluff for according to tradition she dressed simply but formally, especially when going to town and kept a good supply of slippers, nightgowns, and robes from family members in her bedroom drawers as the years passed, just in case.
A flat turquoise ceramic vase graced the top of her radio for many years. Tradition says it remained empty most of the time, but I see it as a place where change might have been placed as she saved her donations for the new organ purchased for their local chapel, a gift to the community larger than her income probably could afford and significant enough to heal the wounds in others’ lives as Saints gathered, babies were blessed, souls laid to rest, and weddings celebrated.
She wore her hair long even in her later years, twirling and twisting it upon her head like a halo of silvery goodness. It is said she objected to a woman cutting her hair and was frank with others when they did so, speaking to my own need for femininity in a world which generally does not highly value nurturing and motherhood.
She was a teacher by passion, passing to the next generation a love of the gospel of Jesus Christ and keeping at the same calling in her small congregation long after others would have balked and gone on. Her Sunday School Sunbeam classroom was graced by many children during the twenty-five plus years she regularly went to teach and bless.
I don’t remember this great-grandmother, but much of what she was and still is to her posterity comes through the memories of descendants as she continues to bless lives. So it will be with all of us, for good or ill. What we are, how we behave, what we say, and the beliefs we hold will go on and on past our time and being. Thanks, Grandmother, for the legacy of your lemon lilies!