International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day it seems fitting for me to celebrate my two grandmothers. Both faced steep challenges with grace and courage.

My grandmother with my father as an infant on her lapAnna Ayers Williams, my dad’s mother, was a suffragette in the early 1900s who worked for a time at Hull House in Chicago. She married a widower nearly twice her age, who had come to this country as a young coal miner from Wales and eventually became a Baptist minister in small Midwestern towns. He died when my father was six. She became a teacher in one-room schools in small Iowa towns where she and my father often lived with the families of her students.

She lived with us before her death when I was six and taught me to read, among many other things. I was named for her.

Eva Graham Law, Esther Law Williams, and Anne Williams c. 1975


Eva Graham Law was my mother’s mother. She too was widowed at a young age when her husband fell from the roof of a barn in Nebraska that he was helping a neighbor build. She had children aged one, three (my mother), five, and seven. To support her family she moved home to Des Moines where she ran a boarding house while working full-time as a clerk in a title company. She too lived with us for many years after she retired.

Both of my grandmother’s always managed to find enough money to help the “poor”.

Mother Moves Again

When Mother decided to move from her apartment to the health care center in the wake of her 98th birthday, I pitched in to give her a hand. I went down the week of the move and here is my story.
Sunday, March 1, 2009

a field of windmils generating electric powerOn Sunday I took a leisurely drive down I-5 on a stunning day through miles of blooming almond groves. I by-passed the Grapevine and L.A. in favor of the Tehachapi Pass, crossed the desert, and landed in Redlands for the night.
On Monday morning I passed through the windmills outside of Palm Springs, crossed the many desert miles to Phoenix and arrived around 2 p.m. My only regret was that I did not get up early enough to stop for a date shake in Palm Desert.

Mother sitting in recliner in her new room

Monday and Tuesday

I had planned ahead and talked to various people at Royal Oaks. The room that Mother was moving to was ready to be occupied, so I hoped to talk her into going there to spend the night. There were chairs, a bed, and a TV there already. The next day we could orgainize the rest of the move. She agreed. I stayed in her apartment. On Tuesday I took over clothes and furniture and tried to make things comfortable. All went very smoothly.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

Another view of Mother in her new roomThe rest of the week was spent walking a million miles between the assisted living apartment and the new room, which are at opposite sides of the campus, as we made sure the right things were moved.

What was left, I took to the Thrift Shop (six or seven trips), a shelter for battered women and children, the local food bank, or sorted through and kept, shredded, or discarded. And, of course, there was the paperwork and plenty of conversations with Mother’s friends and well-wishers.

As you can see, everything fell into place. The staff even brought Mother a beautiful quilt for her bed after she had explained that she did not have an appropriate bedspread.

All has ended very well.

Mother Moves – not all moving events are in California

When Mother decided to move from her apartment to assisted living in anticipation of her 96th birthday, we all pitched in to give her a hand. My brother from Texas spent the weekend before the move helping her decide what to take and what not to take, as well as making several runs to the thrift shop, UPS, and various stores to both rid her of excess and find items that might come in handy in the new place. I went down the week of the move and here is my story.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Taking close up of a bee on a flower On Friday I took a leisurely drive down 101 on a stunning day. The Salinas Valley has never been prettier.

On Saturday morning I did a 5K in Woodley Park in Van Nuys sponsored by the Valley Trauma Center. In the afternoon I decided to see the famous Huntington in San Marcos. Talk about overwhelming! The 207 acres includes over 100 acres of gardens, a conservatory, a huge library of ancient books, and an art museum (once a residence!) that is closed for a three year renovation.

When I ODed on visual stimulation, I turned to photographing people taking photos.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Saturday, after leaving the Huntington I drove on to get a head start in the morning. I soon learned it was Bikers’ weekend in Palm Springs. There were thousands of them having what looked like a good time.The Hyatt was headquarters. I would have joined in, but sadly my Saturn did not let me qualify. Looked like there was good food and good music. I continued on to Palm Desert leaving the action behind.

I had my usual AZ trip date shake breakfast at Shields Date Ranch after spending the night in Palm Desert and arrived at mother’s about 12:30. We had lunch as usual with the regulars. The rest of the afternoon was spent with last minute details in order to be ready for the move in the morning.

Monday, October 9, 2006

The moving crew arrived as promised promptly at 7:00 a.m. and Mother and I vamoosed to eat breakfast in the dining room, something she had done only once before in all the years she has been here. We spun it out as long as possible, stuffing ourselves on omelets and drinking plenty of coffee.

When we arrived back at 9:45, everything had been moved, or close to it. Mother was invited to the new place at 10:30 to find that the furniture was all in place, the boxes were being unpacked, and it looked ready to live in.

And it was by 1:00 p.m. with bed made, closets in order, towels in the bathroom and all pictures hung.She was dumbfounded.

Ben moving the sofaOn Tuesday the main event of the day was when my nephew’s good friend and best man arrived with his roommate to take the furniture that had remained behind. He has a new house in Tempe but no furniture, so it was a good deal for all.

During the rest of of the day, I got know all the volunteers at the Thrift Shop after making six trips (one of which was to retrieve things Mother decided she wanted after all)

When all was loaded (except two casters for the bed, which had fallen off the frame, and the remote for the TV), Ben dropped in to graciously thank Mother. She was entertaining two of her friends and all were delighted.

I mailed him the casters and remote.

Ben and MomI had left my camera behind and had a chance to try the one I have in my new cell phone. As you can see, I have finally figured out how to get pictures out of my phone and onto my computer. Here is a picture of Ben and Mom




Assisted Living dining roomWe ate in the dining room that night after a brief housewarming and sip of champagne for Mother’s friends who who could hardly wait to see her new place.

Of course, Mother knows almost everyone there already. The menu is the same as the one in the big dining room so life goes on as usual.


Mother's new living roomFor those who have been there, the new living room does not look much different from the former one. The only thing that did not come was the wing chair that Mother said was uncomfortable anyway (Ben has it.) and the sofa that was so soft that no one could get out of it once they were down. (Ben has it too.)



Mother's new kitchen The kitchen occupies a corner and has ample cupboards, a microwave, but no stove. Although the refrigerator is dinky, Mother feels it may be adequate. We shall see.




Thursday, October 12, 2006

After a day and a half of taking care of loose ends, I headed back across the desert. I had to stop in Palm Desert again to pick up the clothes I left in the closet of the motel I stayed at. (Dumb) I have become good friends with the new owner, a woman who has just opened up and with whom I can talk “hotel talk” again.

I finally stopped in Pasadena around 7:30.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Now that I am back in highspeed internet territory, I am posting this from my motel room in Pasadena while waiting for the morning commute traffic to ease up a bit–I hope.

I will stop at Harris Ranch on my way home and pick up steaks for dinner and rest easy knowing Mother is settled at last and no longer has need to endure the anxiety of anticipation.

All has ended very well.


Ben has sent pictures of the furniture that has found a home at his place. See for yourself!

Ben's new sofa Ben's patio Ben's recliner Ben's table

March 2009 Update

She’s moved again! Click here for the latest