|Honored by:||Cathryn Watson Potter|
|Brick location:||PAVER:22 map|
Mattie Mae Sissel was my maternal grandmother, a central influence in my life and a role model for me. She was a strong woman who was crippled at a very young age. She grew up as a "pioneer," living in sod houses, a house on stilts, experiencing prairie fires, and being chased by bears when she went to the creek for water. She was 25 years younger than my grandfather when she married him and came to live on his farm near Kellerton, Iowa. She did all the things farm women did at the turn of the century, regardless of her handicap, and raised three children--the eldest, my mother.
My earliest memories of her are coming into her kitchen with the wood burning range and seeing her churning butter in a wooden floor churn. Tied to that memory is my recollection of putting my hand in her cookie jar which was always filled with sugar or molasses cookies. She was wonderfully patient and taught me to crochet, to quilt, and to cook. I especially remember her hands when she was doing handwork and even today more than thirty years after her death I will notice someone else's hands that remind me of hers. They are always helping hands.
After my grandfather died and she moved to town I continued to visit her, enjoy her, and seek out her counsel. As a college student, I tried to spend at least a week of each summer with her and could talk with her about things I never discussed with anyone else. Her spirit was fantastic, and when she could no longer write because of arthritis, she bought an old typewriter and learned to use it so she could write letters. She also had a wonderful sense of humor. More than anything else I remember her strength and her joy in life.
Submitted on 5/24/95
E. Mae Watson