Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy Grandparents Day!

"Grandchildren are God's way of compensating us for growing old." ~Mary H. Waldrip

"Grandparents are there to help the child get into mischief they haven't thought of yet."
~Gene Perret

"You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mothers. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves." ~Seattle, Chief of the Duwamish, Suquamish and allied Indian tribes

Grandparents day is a modern holiday. It's another of those holidays made up to sell cards and gifts. I always forget about it unless some one reminds me or as in this year the inter-net reminds me. But in honor of the day I will talk about my own Grand-ma's a little bit. I'm sure I had Grand-pa's too.. I have even heard tales of them.. But they both died before I was born. I sadly missed out on those guys.

My Mama's Mother was Miss Janie Morris. Morris being the name of her third and last husband. Grandma was very particular about things. She was born a planters daughter and his favorite daughter at that. She was sent to a ladies school (Winthrop) to be educated as a teacher. Back then very few young women were educated. She came on the train to teach in a one room school house. It was there that she met My Grandfather and her first husband. He died very young leaving her to raise four children. She married twice after that but never lost her strong minded ways. I used to hate to go visit her because I knew with-out a doubt where I was going to be.. I was going to be sitting on the front step. She wouldn't get a switch or strike you with her hand....She firmly believed in the sitting on the step thinking about what you had done. My Uncle Robert told me that he never could figure that one out.. He said " Damn! she walloped hell out of me and Roberta : and she treats y'all like y'all's ass is glass." He then added that she didn't whip Aunt Dot nor Uncle JC either so maybe their "asses were glasses" too.. I can only assume that he got both his language and his sense of humor from My Grand-father. I assure you she wouldn't have laughed like we did.

She could sew like no one else though.. Making us special dresses for special occasions. She sewed for the public is what she called it. I remember sitting on the steps and looking through the window into her bedroom where she sewed.. she would be bent over the machine working away and humming Hymns to herself. I asked her once if she could make doll clothes and she laughed at me.. saying I was foolish.. "Go sit on the step till you can think of something smart to say!" Needless to say I sat there till time to go home.

But the following month was my 6th Birthday and she brought me a beautiful handmade rag doll in a bright red dress and a perky little hat. . Handing it to me she said " I can do anything I set my mind to and so can you... Take care of this doll to remind you of that." Janie Jane the doll sits right here where I work.. Just in case I need reminding. Grandma did so many things she went to college and taught school. She raised a family and sewed for the public. Her second Husband owed a store and she ran that too. In her older years she worked for the town as a clerk and ran the water office and still she sewed. If she wanted to go somewhere she got in her car and went. She spoke her mind. She even danced a jig that she made up herself.. her own happy dance. She also made the best pound cake and divinity fudge there ever was.. I learned from her that you can indeed do anything you set your mind too.

My Daddy's Mama was Grandma Black. Her real Name was Mozelle. They say I am very much like her. I think I look like her. Grandma Black was a very earthy person. She loved the outside. She too could sew but mostly she sewed quilts for everyone. When she lived in the big house we kids would lay under the quilting frames and listen as the grown ups talked to each other. She kept a quilt in the frames all the time ~ when she wasn't sewing on it she would pull it up to the ceiling on Pulley's and tie it off. Grandma kept chickens in a pen outside. She loved cats but they were outside too.

When her youngest son Married a Lady with three girls, Grandma gave them her house and moved to a little cottage in the woods. She carried her Iron bed; quilting frames and her chickens with her.Once me and Jimmy were at Grandma's house. I'm pretty sure Mama and Daddy had gone to get school supplies for the rest of the crew. Sheron came up the dirt road and told me and Jimmy that she knew where a snake was. Jimmy was excited about that and grabbed a big rock as they ran away to kill it. I followed along and got there just as Jimmy bashed him on the head.. I tried to tell that to Grandma as she was coming out of the woods ~with a switch already in her hand~ But it didn't matter to her. She switched us all a few times on our skinny little legs.. Running Sheron back through the woods to her house and me and Jimmy back up the dirt road to her cottage.

"You don't kill things" she said as she switched our legs.. "You only kill what you need to eat. If everyone killed anything they wanted to the world would be out of whack!" She didn't send us to sit on the steps.. she just said that next time she would tell our Daddy. When we all got back to her house and she washed our faces clear of tears~ she talked to us about nature being balanced and that we had killed a rat snake. I was afraid for a long time that the rats would take over....

Grandma wore a Bonnet and an apron always. The apron was magical. It had a special pocket that held an endless supply of chewing gum and mints. Whatever anyone needed would magically appear from her tiny apron pocket. Tissues for dirty faces and running noses or crying eyes~ a button and sewing needle to fix a shirt~ a few coins for a cold coke. I wanted that apron for myself. When she died they gave me her bonnet~ I really wanted that apron!

A few years before she died Uncle Emmett moved Grandma into a small Trailer almost in his Back yard. They brought along her chickens but she had long since passed the quilt frames on to my Mama. Grandma loved it there except that she was no longer surrounded by the woods. So she grew her own. Grandma could be found most days chopping around in her yard with a hoe. Planting something to feed the Belly or to feed the soul. She grew flowers and tomatoes and cucumbers all there together. Crowded in where ever something would fit. I reckon that's where I get my gardening style. I learned so many things from her. I learned from her that understanding is the hard part.. "Just accept" she said "it's a whole lot easier." I think she meant that for most things in life~ She also taught me how to Bake the very best lemon pies!

Both of My grandma's endured many hardships. They lived through things we can only imagine.
They were very different from each other and yet I believe they respected each other. I never saw them quarrel. One watched Lawrence Welk and one didn't really understand the concept of TV. ... One highly educated and one Barely educated and yet they both were very smart women. They raised my parents. They helped raise us.. They did a great Job! I hope to be as good of a grandmother to my own grandchildren.

If you have a Grandma ~ call her up and say Hi. It will mean more than you know to her.
If you are a grandmother~ Plan a special walk or talk with your grandchildren. Talk them about things that were part of your world but will not be a part of theirs. Tell them about life when your Grandma was young. Share with them of yourself. Have a great day!


Big Time said...

Hey Patsy,
This was another good one. Reading this blog brought back a flood of memories. Thank you! Reuben

Pblacksaw said...

Hey big time.. I like your new name.. I am glad you enjoyed this post.. I could have wrote a book on both of them..
Love you!

Big Time said...

My new name isn't so new. That is what everybody called me in high school. Now you know something new today about me.

Sunshine said...

Patsy, I would have wanted her wonderful apron too! My grandmother and mother made doll clothes and dresses for me too. Handmade were truly blessed! Thank you for stirring theses memories in my head. What a joy to remember!