Pondering a woman named Dora, known as Iona…

Her given name was Dora but they caller her by her middle name, Iona. She was a cook extraordinaire. This was before microwaves and stainless steel appliances. Each morning she would rise before the rest of the household and prepare breakfast from scratch.

Most days, unless a crowd of family was visiting, that first meal of the day took place in the kitchen. She had a small, vintage kitchen table with a little drawer in the side (circa 1950 or so).

Her grandchildren found that drawer most intriguing.

It held her everyday silverware. As the kitchen began to smell of bacon frying and biscuits in the oven, they would beg to get into that little drawer.

She was a cook extraordinaire #mother #identity Click To Tweet

When they could hardly stand to wait another minute, finally Grandma would say, “Okay, can you get out the forks, knifes and spoons?” Who else but a grandmother lets you handle the knives and forks at the age of four or five (and insists on a complete table setting at every meal)?

Born in 1917, Iona was the second child in a family of six children. When she was eleven years old, her mother passed away. Six months later, her father left them to marry a younger woman.

Iona and her older sister were left in charge of the household and their younger siblings.

Imagine what this meant. The oldest brothers worked the fields as sharecroppers. This was their only option to retain the house where their father left them. The youngest brother was merely three years old at the time.

Determined to keep the family together they took on the role of parents #mother #identity Click To Tweet

Iona and her sister both quit school. Someone had to stay home to care for the baby and household. The following year, a kind teacher allowed the girls to bring their toddler-brother to class with them so they could complete their final year of high school.

Determined to keep the family together, Iona and her sister took on the role of parents. They planned the meals, did the cooking, gave the baths and handed out discipline. Still girls themselves, they became “parents” with adult responsibilities.

Many years later, Iona married a preacher.

Once her brothers were grown and living their own lives, Iona realized she was free to go on with her’s. With her husband, she raised their three children to adulthood. Iona then became a working-woman before it was the popular thing to do.

Some would say she did it because her husband was a pastor and they needed the income from her job. I think she did it primarily because all she had known was being a working woman, and it started when she was an eleven-year-old girl.

God and family were the most important thing in Iona’s life. She never wavered from this commitment.

Iona was Grandma to seven grandchildren. The oldest, a girl, was born in 1961. She spent many mornings waiting to open that intriguing little drawer in Iona’s kitchen. What she wouldn’t give to smell the bacon and biscuits one more time and hear the words, “Okay, can you get out the forks, knifes and spoons?” I was that granddaughter.

What are the special memories of your childhood?

If you’re like me, some memories are vivid and others vague. It’s good to remember, and to share those memories with our own children or grandchildren.

And I realize some memories are painful. Certainly, my grandma had difficult memories in her past. Maybe it’s good to recall the painful and difficult; to see how far we’ve come. It’s woven into the fabric of our lives and who we are today.

All she had known was being a working woman #mother #identity Click To Tweet

If there ever was a modern-day woman described in Proverbs 31, my grandma was that woman. We honor her memory and only hope to live with the same grace and determination – working hard, loving family, serving others – and doing it all to God’s glory.


The feature image with this post is one of my favorites of Grandma, shown with my daughter and taken over twenty years ago.

1 thought on “Pondering a woman named Dora, known as Iona…

  1. What an important legacy she has left for all the women after her… that’s so very powerful! I wonder if the young women of today consider the legacy they are providing in the right now of their lives?

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