My sweet grandma passed away yesterday afternoon. She went peacefully while she was sleeping at age 95. She lived just as she died - peacefully. My grandparents were a perfect example of living a simple and frugal life. Born in 1918, they grew up in the depression, so living simply was just a normal way of life. They always lived in very small homes.
My earliest clear memories of how they lived started when I was about 4 or 5. My grandpa worked at a lumber mill and my grandma was a homemaker. They lived in a tiny trailer park near the lumber mill, so he had about a mile or two drive to work each day. I can still remember their tiny trailer - a travel trailer really. One of those silver kind with the rounded corners. They lived simply and only had what they needed in that home. It wasn't overcrowded with stuff - just the minimal amount of possessions and it was always neat as a pin. I can also remember grandma still managed to have a small vegetable and flower garden in the tiny yard.
My grandpa got a job at another lumber mill in a nearby town and they moved, first living in a temporary place until they found something permanent. This was a super tiny little travel trailer. I don't recall how long they were there, several months most likely, but, I do remember spending a week with them during my spring beak when I was about 8, sleeping on the foldout couch..Then they found a place in a bigger mobile home park near his work. This new home was a small single wide trailer that actually had 2 bedrooms! I can remember spending a lot of nights with them and sleeping in that tiny room.
Then about the time I was getting married my grandpa retired and they decided to move again. They moved across town to a nice over 55 mobile home park and bought a small double wide 24x48. Just 2 bedrooms, one bath. Again, they always just had the minimal amount of things. Never overcrowded and always spotless. They were the same way with their yard - they always had the nicest yard of all their neighbors and never overcrowded the yard with plants. In fact, in looking back now I see how they would remove plants and shrubs that got too big - because they wanted things simple and neat. I ended up with many of the plants they didn't want over the years and still have them planted in the front of my house. A big juniper, a rhododendron, a fuschia bush....
Their possessions were most all just necessity and the few other items were always things that meant a alot to them. They were the most happy and peaceful people you could know. They squirreled away any extra money they had and put it into CD's during the 70's/80's (back when they paid a good intrest rate of like 12%) and ended up with a small nest egg of about $80,000 when grandpa retired. They lived on social security and a super small pension of like $170 a month. They barely touched their savings unless they needed to do a home repair, which they always kept up on. Over the years they put on a new roof, new windows, new flooring and lastly a heat pump system, which over the years saved much on heating bills and kept the place cool in summer.
They had a very simple life. They mostly stayed home. If they did take a trip it was a short one for a few days to visit various relatives. Every Friday night they went to their favorite Italian restaurant and had the same pizza and a glass of wine. Grandpa puttered in his little shop/shed, grandma kept the house clean and they worked on the yard together. Grandma never did drive so grandpa always took her grocery shopping and to do errands. They didn't buy things they didn't need and they didn't waste anything. They used things until they just couldn't be used anymore. They had one car and one tv.
Grandpa died 15 years ago - also peacefully and in his sleep. Grandma lived on her own until a few years ago. Though she had to rely on my mom and me for driving her around, she was a very independent lady. She knew how to take care of everything, including her finances. Cleaning out and selling my grandma's home a few years ago when she had to go into assisted living was really easy. She had few things and everything she had was neatly in it's place. No overstuffed closets or drawers. I can remember opening one dresser drawer and finding only 3 sweaters neatly folded and thinking to myself "I wish the inside of my dresser looked this neat".
I'm blessed that I got to have a grandma for almost 50 years! I learned a lot from that simple lady.