Day of the Dead: Memories of My Grandmother Saunders

Today is the second day of Día de los Muertos, and my fourth post on the holiday. Today I’m remembering my paternal grandmother.

Harriet Saunders, 1906 – 1986

My grandmother as a young woman

Granny was a really smart woman, and an avid reader. She’d use Latin phrases in her letters to us, and used lots of literary references. Her collection of seashells was really neat; even neater was that she knew the scientific names for them all.

I remember going to church with her a few times when she came to visit. She’d take us to the beautiful Episcopalian church in Palm Beach. I never quite understood the whole communion thing but found it fascinating. Granny was our one exposure to church but she didn’t push us at all.

Granny was kind to us grandkids. I loved ballerinas when I was young, and one year for my birthday, she had wonderful curtains made for my room, and a matching bedspread. They were cream with a ballerina print in blue and purple. She also had a wooden trash can and light switch painted to match. I really loved that set, and felt so special. (Isn’t that the best thing about grandparents?)

Her southern drawl was pleasant to listen to. She was apparently very shy, which might explain why I have only this one photograph of her, thanks to my aunt.

She was a good baker; I loved her cheese crackers, which she’d make for us every year. They’re made with sharp cheddar, have a bit of Tabasco, and were topped off by a perfect pecan half that she’d shelled herself. This is one of my holiday traditions as well. (Not the shelling the pecans.)

On her ofrenda, I’d leave spiced tea, a chocolate bar, some seashells, and a stack of books including A Confederacy of Dunces and Archy and Mehitabel.

What traits might I have gotten from her? Intelligence, intellectual curiosity, love of reading, appreciation of Latin phrases, a shy nature, and affection for cats.

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One thought on “Day of the Dead: Memories of My Grandmother Saunders

  1. And writing…..you got her love of writing, only someone who loves to write could have put something this beautiful together. And the pecans, she would go out and “harvest” those herself, never store bought. We seemed to always have one or two pecan trees around her houses, or Ida Mae would bring her bags of them. Her fingers had callouses from shelling them. The church was her passion. Did you know that she went back to school (UNC-Wilmington) in her seventies to get a degree in theology? Beautiful Sue, thank you. Bunky

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