Monday, August 02, 2021

Legacy - Maternal Grandmother (Part 1)

My grandmother swooped down and pulled my crying brother up into her arms. He immediately fell into her bosom, his snotty face buried in the towel that always magically appeared on Grandma's shoulder when one of us had a cold or needed hugging.

She carried him over to her rocker and settled in. She rocked fiercely, almost angrily, and the rocker clacked on the hardwood floors as she matched the tempo of my brother's heaving sobs. Then the rocker began to slow as my brother's tears eased. Grandma began to sing. "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do." My brother's crying eased, and soon he fell asleep, as children do when they've worn themselves out from crying and then been comforted.

This meant I could go back to playing, because my favorite little person was in safe hands. Grandma's arms around you in while she was in her rocker was the safest place of all.

That memory is my favorite of all the memories I have of Grandma. It is probably an amalgamation of memories, for I'm sure it happened more than once. But my memory of watching her soothe my brother puts her high in the ranks of good people in my life.

Grandma took care of us until we started school. Then she watched us in the summers or when we were sick. My brother, Loren, and I were joined by my two youngest uncles. Junior was four years older than we were, so he was the boss. My other uncle, Jerry, was a year younger than I. He and I played together a lot, leaving my brother, three years younger than I, to himself or to be the bratty little hanger-on with the rest of us. Grandma made us include him and I generally tried to, because I was supposed to protect him.

My grandmother was a housewife. She did not drive, but once a week she would walk three blocks to Aunt Neva's and do her hair. She dragged us all along with her. I didn't mind. In the summer, Aunt Neva had Concord grapes growing on a vine and I loved to steal a bunch and eat them still hot from the sun. Aunt Neva's house smelled always of baking beans and frequently of hair perm solution. I didn't know it then, but Aunt Neva lived in the house my grandmother grew up in.

As we aged, we occasionally took longer walks to Main Street in Salem. These were glorious nearly day-long trips. I expect they wore my grandmother out - she would have been in her late 40s, I guess - but to us they were the epitome of summer. First, we'd stop by Aunt Pearl's house for a Coke and a place to pee if necessary. She and Grandma would chat until we became whiny and wanted to move on.

Then, we'd go to Brooks Byrd Pharmacy for an icy snow cone. I always had blue raspberry. Then we'd march to Newberry's to spend whatever money we'd managed to save. Newberry's was like a local Woolworth's (or today's Dollar General) - it was a store with everything. We bought balsa wood airplanes, paddles with the ball attached, Slinkys, and as we aged, models that we then spent hours gluing together.

Grandma was fairly lenient with us in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We would take our bikes and be gone most of the afternoon, leaving her to cook dinner for Granddaddy. We would race in if we were bleeding, and politely ask for a "Granddaddy cookie" to soothe the pain. These were Little Debbie Oatmeal Cookies that Grandma kept in a blue cookie jar on a yellow cart beside the stove. Since Granddaddy took one in his lunch everyday, a kid could only have these special treats when blood was involved.

Once, my grandfather was cutting down a tree in the back, or trimming it, perhaps, I can't recall. In any event, eight-year-old me wanted to help. He handed me a small saw, and I proceeded to saw open the joint in my left thumb. He sent me in to my grandmother, who put the bleeding thumb under water to see how bad it was cut. I began to pass out and she magically managed to hold me up, swirl a chair around for me to sit down in, and keep my thumb under water all at the same time. She wrapped my thumb in a towel and had me place my head between my knees, which I did. She bandaged my thumb, gave me a Granddaddy cookie, and I spent the rest of the afternoon reading a book. I still have a nice scar there.

My grandmother had a big "rag bag" in the bottom of the hall closet. My uncles and my brother and I loved to dig through it. We pulled out old blankets to use for capes so we could be super heroes. We spent many hours jumping off the back stoop in efforts to fly.

She lowered her head several times a day for one of us to give her a necklace made of clover flowers. We would sit for a long time making clover chains, which we then adorned her with. They were always gone when next we went into the house.

In the afternoons, we were not to bother Grandma while she was on the phone with Mamma Fore. Mamma Fore was her friend and they talked for at least an hour. Generally, we weren't there anyway, unless one of us was ill.

When I was 11, my grandmother told of us of a dream she had of walking through a beautiful apple orchid. Jesus came to her and took her wedding ring from her finger. "You won't need this any more," he told her.

My grandfather died of a heart attack about a week later.

To be continued . . .


  1. I absolutely loved this. I love it when you write like this and I could picture your days with your grandmother. Looking forward to Part 2.

  2. I agree with Bev Sykes, love when you write like this!


Sorry about adding the Captcha and comment moderation. I am getting lots of spam at the moment. Please leave a comment anyway, if you are not a spammer! I appreciate your time and responses.