Memories resurface when we least expect them to. They can show up from a myriad of different tugs that instantly recall a scene. Triggers can come from smells and sounds, similar feelings and situations, and even things read and heard. The past couple of weeks for me has been an accumulation of all the above to bring back childhood memories, specifically visits with my grandmother.
My dear grandmother was my father's mother. Though I have mentioned Grandmother only once before here, she has always been close to me in my heart. Often times, I will look at situations and decisions that need to be made and without even realising it I will ask myself, "What would Grandmother do?"
I loved my childhood visits to Grandmother's house. It was like stepping into Mayberry. For a chunk of my childhood, we were stationed at an Air Force base a mere 8 hours away from Grandmother's home in the small backwoods of Chatham, Louisiana. It was such a different way of life and the experiences never became old. Our every day lives were pretty fast paced with school and both parents working. Not that that was a bad thing mind you. It is just that the gears would stop with every mile that we would get closer to that little town. Though I knew how long the drive would be, I would always ask, "Are we there yet? How much longer until we get there?" I knew those mile markers and I knew where all of the turns were. I even knew for a fact that the hands of time worked against me in making minutes slow down as we made each corner.
To this very day, I could take you there right now with my eyes closed.
Do you smell the wetness in the air? That is the lake. Do you hear the toads and crickets chirping their songs? Do you hear the rocks catching in the tire tread? Here comes the general store just before the flashing light. Boy, the town folk were sure proud to get that flashing yellow light. Over there are the railroad tracks. We will take a left there......bump bump bump. Now a right down Davis Street and to the end. Do feel the shade of the big trees as we drive under them? It is so cool and refreshing against the sweltering heat. To the left is Aunt Olie and Uncle Calvin's house. They will want us to pop in for some sun brewed ice tea when we are refreshed. There on the left, there is Grandmother coming out of her screened in front porch. She is wiping her hands on a kitchen towel because she was making some special vittles for us. "Traveling like that is sure to make a person hungry", she says as her hugs squeeze the breath out of our bodies.
I remember so much about Grandmother. She was firm and absolute in her resolve while her heart was molded with gold that shone so bright to everyone within her grasp. She had the resilient strength in character to raise 6 strapping boys and 3 grandchildren while her heart bore the grief of living through the deaths of 2 husbands, a baby girl, and 4 of her grown boys. A person never ever thought of answering Grandmother without ending their sentence with "Ma'am". I don't ever remember not saying "yes Ma'am" to Grandmother. Not because she demanded it, but because she was worthy of the respect. I remember early on, never wanting to do anything that would hurt Grandmother, simply because I loved her so.
Those short visits were filled with all sorts of memories; shucking corn and catching crawdads, softball games and my cousin's big old dog named Bear, family reunions, honey bees and Daddy Long legged spiders, learning to drive a riding lawn mower and shotgun target practice, Grandmother's special gumbo and her southern style biscuits. As I play every memory out they all circle back around to Grandmother.
When my husband and I married, we were stationed just a few hours away from Grandmother. It was always s joy to get to have a three day weekend and spend it in her company.
I remember that it was because of Grandmother that everyone decided my husband was "alright" and accepted. See, no one in the family liked that this older man had swept young little me off my feet. But Grandmother declared, "In the short weekend of their first visit he was polite, changed my car oil and fixed my ceiling fan. To top it off, he makes our little Julie smile so what more could we ask for?" Then she rounded it off with, "Looking at them together, why they are just cuter than a speckled pup under a red wagon." That simple statement was all anyone needed.
Grandmother's house was my home away from home. When my husband was called away in the middle of the night to serve in Desert Shield, it was summer time and I was left with his two small children. Thoughts of re booking their plane tickets and sending them home early to their momma never even occurred to me. As they walked around the house in a daze, clutching their daddy's photo and wondering if they would see him again, my only thought was to take them to the place where I always had peace....Grandmother's house. There we were just a few hours later and there was Grandmother with her open arms full of acceptance and love. She helped wipe away the children's' tears and comforted me in all of her knowing ways.
The kids, now ages 25 and 28 years, still bring up those special days at Grandmother's house.
When I had my first baby, I couldn't wait to take her to see Grandmother. Though Grandmother had countless grandchildren and great grandchildren by that time, that didn't stop her from ooh-ahhing over my little girl and showing her off to everybody in town.
I hold dear all of our visits. We would often sit out on the screened in front porch early in the morning and talk about Bible and family, times past and times to come. Sometimes we would giggle and sometimes just breathe deeply and not say anything at all.
Sitting here now at my keyboard, I can still feel the slow sway of the porch swing and hear the creak of the chains going back and forth. I can see her smiling next to me with a little girl grin as we share a fresh batch of instant chocolate pudding. "I like it the best", she says, "when not all of the pudding mixes up with the milk. Then you get little clumps of powder in your spoon and it is like a secret treasure surprise."
Oh Grandmother you are our treasure and I love you so.
Thank you for blessing us all with the specialness of you over the years.
(David at Authorblog honored this post and my dear Grandmother with giving it a mention as post of the day. I am so grateful to share Grandmother with everyone.)