The Strength of Lyda…

My previous post prompted me to locate my journals from 1997 to capture some of the real essence of that ACL reconstruction period. (And, yes, of course I have journals, I’ve been chronicling my life for my posterity since I could write.) And in doing so, I found my grandma: Lyda Leon Robinson Newbold.

Lyda and the Great-Grandkids... a Memorial Day Weekend

Lyda is my dad’s mom, and she was one of the toughest, kindest, most straightforward women I know. She was the best. After my grandpa died, she and I became even closer. While she could still live in her own home and care for herself, I used to stop by, and we’d head out the front or back doors, carefully make our way down the steps, and walk the length of the driveway together. The goal was three-fold: laugh and talk together, get Grandma some exercise, and lastly — our shared love — check on the peonies, snap dragons, petunias, and chrysanthemums along the way. As she pushed upward in years toward 92, 93 and 94, those walks took longer and longer, and our pace became slower and slower. We got more time to talk together, and Grandma may have leaned on me a bit more toward the end of the drive, but we always walked the full length of the yard. Always.

When I blew out my knee in NYC, I was pretty much all alone. My family was in Utah, most of my friends in the business were out on tour with a show, so the city felt twice as big and twice as daunting. With my only affordable mode of transportation being the subways, I grabbed my crutches and walked to and from the stations, up and down the stairs to the tunnels, my pace painstakingly slow and often exhausting. It reminded me of those walks with Grandma — the careful placing of each step and goal of getting to the end of the drive. So I wrote about it…

June 2,1997…

My world through Grandma’s eyes. People’s kindess everywhere — holding a door, offering a seat, taking my arm.

New York at Grandma’s pace. Seconds stretch to minutes and even longer. I’m always so tired. Jaunts become day-trips. I’ve discovered my own “long walk down the drive.” And I’m just as scared of falling.

She was 94. I’m 34. We’ve 60 years in common. I see her on the subway, at the laundromat, at the grocery. I see her alone in my apartment. I see her patience in all I’m learning.

I see her as I rest on my crutches — wondering why the sidewalk cracks suddenly feel like canyons, and why street curbs have become mountains — resting and wondering why it takes me so long to get back home.

I wonder if that’s how she felt after Grandpa died. Why is it taking so long to get back home?

Thirteen years later, does it feel a little melodramatic? Absolutely. And that’s actually the beauty of it. But there’s also beauty in the raw facts that I took refuge in family — whether in person or in spirit — to get through a really tough period of my life. Lyda would be proud of that… and she also loved a little melodrama.


4 thoughts on “The Strength of Lyda…

  1. I have to say, thank you for posting something about Great Grandma. I didn’t get to know her very well. I do have memories of her, but I was still very young when she passed. It is nice to be able to know a little bit more about her. Thank you.

  2. She was the best, Sarah. Ask Grandpa and Uncle Dave about how she used to use the end of a broom handle “pool cue” style to clear out the kitchen when you were in the way! Great stories — and did you know she used to work in the accessories/millenary department of ZCMI and sold hats? Fab, right? I think Cari and your mom have some of her wares and hat boxes.

  3. Alan, what a great post. Reminds me of when I was hugely pregnant with Billy and Grandma came to help me can peaches. We both moaned and groaned over how uncomfortable we were, how slow we were, how we couldn’t do everything we were used to doing, etc. She looked at me and said, “At least there’s an end to yours.” I just grinned and said, “There’s an end to yours, too!”

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