Perhaps the most influential person of my life was my paternal grandmother, Hortense Weston Lucas. Everything about her channeled goodness, fairness, and a conservative morality that was very much a reflection of her generation.
She was born in Salinas, California, to a father who worked the railroad that wound it's way through the northern California green. Her father met her mother, Ruth, who was a student at Mills College, at a dance.
Hortense was born in 1909.
I am grateful for the years that I had to know her. I am picturing her now, in my mind. She always wore her hair in a Gibson bun. I didn't even know what that meant until I looked it up one day. The Gibson Girl look was very much a thing to fashionable ladies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the early mornings, I would watch my grandmother brush her hair, it went all the way down to her hips. After brushing her hair, she would carefully mold it into the Gibson bun, pinning it into place with real tortoise shell pins she'd inherited from her own mother.
While at home, she always wore an apron. She had three. Each of them had a slightly different floral print with yellow, blue, or purple background. During the day, she had clothing she would wear while at home and other clothing she would wear if she went out. Sometimes, she wore gloves. She always wore gloves when she drove. Many people wore driving gloves in those days.
Thinking back on the years I knew her, she managed to meld that Gibson look with the polyester pant suit set of the 1970s, a look she wore well into the 1980s.
Mostly, when I think about her, I recall her kindness and her warmth. No matter what was happening, she always had a calm demeanor. As I close for the morning, I am remembering her smile. She had the most lovely smile.
Today I'm going to work on my smile.