I got a dreaded call this a.m. My sister called to notify me my Grandmother died last night. I believe she was going to be 95 in August...yes a long, long life she lived. I thought I'd share some of my few memories of this women who gave me my mother.
My mother is a very hard worker and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt she got this from my Grandmother. My Grandparents were a product of the depression and never lost that 'save it all' mentality. They worked very hard all their lives at farming, and my grandmother, in the 50's and 60's (before it was considered acceptable for women) worked as a maid in motels in the little towns they farmed.
My grandparents lived in Arkansas all MY life...in a small town called Mountain View. They lived in an unpretentious home, with 3 bedrooms and enough land in the back yard to raise their own food with some to spare. They also had chickens and turkeys. It always felt like we were going to visit the 'country' when we city-slickers visited from Denver.
My brother and sister and I would get so excited about getting a home grown watermelon straight off the vine in those late summer visits. We'd GET to help grandma can the green beans. To this day, my sister despises anything but home grown green beans. We'd have fresh fried okra and there would always be some kind of berry to be had. There would be vegetables and fruit to consume to your belly's content.
We never had to attempt to wring the chickens' necks for dinner but I always wondered about the excess feathers in the backyard. My mother has since told me stories of her feeble attempts to perform this task at the young age of 4 or 5 and the chicken just flopped back and forth and got down just angry as can be! We did get to go gather eggs and that was always strange too for city folks who 'gathered eggs' at the grocery story. These eggs were WARM!
Sometimes we got to go out to my uncle's farm and he had horses. Those were the best days. He also had cows and we had to attempt to milk them (not nearly as easy as it looks I might add) and then we'd ride horses til we could barely walk!
I remember my grandparents' house wasn't very kid-friendly and it seemed a bit 'cold' at times, but in retrospect I know they were a product of their own generation and the demons that chased them from the times of want and need.
On Saturday evening we'd get to go to the hootenanny (an informal or impromptu performance by folk singers, in which the audience often participates) at the town square (I'm being totally serious). It was a highlight of the week. All these farmers and small town folks would come into town and right in the center of downtown (literally 4 streets surround the courthouse) was a town square where locals sang, danced, played the fiddle, and we all drug our lawn chairs out there or blankets and sat and sang along or just visited with friends and family in town.
As we grew older the appeal to visit was less strong and I skipped some of those later visits during late high school and college. I did attend their 50th anniversary. I was amazed that two people could be married that long! My parents just celebrated their 46th this year. Seems hard to believe they too, will soon celebrate this golden anniversary.
I was not able to attend my Grandfather's funeral...many years ago now, due to schedules. Frankly funerals are not 'my thing'. I have been to only a handful in my life and would much rather attend a memorial service than a funeral. I can't bear the emotional upheaval. I will be attending this one...for my mother.
My grandmother, on more recent visits, had literally been watching a clock across from her bed and chair in her final home. She could barely hear or see anymore and though she did recognize me the times I went, she didn't always recognize my mother, in more recent visits. She did, however; show some of that spunk when people would step in front of that clock with the giant LCD display (probably 6 inches high) telling her the time was passing one minute at a time. She wanted...NEEDED clear vision of those minutes ticking by!
I see some of my grandmother in me. She is where I found the passion to read. She is where I learned a strong work ethic. In that same spirit I pray each day I better understand my mother and her uber-high expectations of each of us...because this is her heritage and we are her legacy...a legacy that was passed down from my Grandmother...may be rest in peace at last.