My Grandma, Helen Petersen Kirby

My grandmother, Helen Petersen Kirby means so much to me and my siblings. Her only child was our dad, so myself and my five siblings were her only grandchildren. She treasured us and we knew it. She was there for every major life event, birthday and holiday. We knew we could call her any time and we did. She was Grandma Kirby. We also had two Grandma Galloways (my mom’s mother and step-mother), but when we just said “Grandma,” we were talking about Grandma Kirby. Although she has been gone for twenty years, it is safe to say that she is remembered by at least one of her grandchildren every day. Currently I have on my bed the quilt she hand quilted for my wedding years before I was even of marrying age (I appreciate that she had faith that I would one day be married). In my closet are her hangers with crocheted covers created by her. Although she was not the one that taught me how to crochet, I inherited her yarn and crochet hooks. All these years later I am still whittling down the yarn stash while using her hooks (The brown yarn in the diaper bag I crocheted while on modified bed rest was hers.) Her name is also used daily in my home.

For the #52Ancestors challenge this week’s prompt is “Favorite Photo.” This is my favorite photo of Grandma Kirby:

Helen Petersen 1932

There is so much I love about this photo. It was taken in Mount Pleasant, Utah the year she turned 18. I don’t know the month, but it is evident from the icicles hanging from the porch roof and the snow on the neighboring house that it was taken in the winter time. Yet there she is boldly standing with short sleeves and a big smile. It reminds me of a time that she advised me that if I like the shoes I should wear them regardless whether they fit or not. Sacrificing for style was just something she did. Clearly she was willing to brave the cold in order so show off this fantastic outfit.

Speaking of the smile she is flashing in this photo…don’t you love her laughing eyes that accompany it? My grandma had the best laugh. And she laughed a lot. She told story after story and laughed at most of them. However, she would get misty-eyed when she talked of Grandpa. I never knew Grandpa Kirby. He passed away in 1960 at age 49. As I remember her telling me, Grandma was only 17 when they met in Cache County, UT and Grandpa knew he wanted to marry her right away. However, he wanted to give her time to “grow up.” They married in November 1933 when Grandma was 19 and were sealed in the Salt Lake LDS Temple a few days later. My dad would explain that after Grandma’s father passed away in May 1933 the family moved to Mount Pleasant where she was born. Grandpa only drove from Hyde Park UT to Mount Pleasant twice in his Model T Ford to see her when he decided that he couldn’t do that anymore and asked her to marry him. This photo is of the woman he fell in love with. To me, theirs was the love story of all love stories and I wanted to marry a man who loved me that much.

Although Grandma Kirby and I have different personalities, she is an intricate part of who I am as a woman. I hope to one day be as fantastic of a grandma to my grandchildren as she was to hers. In the mean time, I will do all I can to teach my children about their Great-Grandma Kirby in hopes that they can grow to love her, too.

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