The More Things Change (part 2)

imageAs I hold my tiny granddaughter, I remember melting into Grandma’s pillowy softness, smelling her Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder, unaware she’d ever played any role but “Grandma.” Though I’d always heard Mother address her as “Mama” I stung with jealousy when I found out Grandma actually was her mother. Sure, I was her favorite grandchild, I later learned the other kids thought the same things, the mark of a good grandmother.

We only visited Grandma In summers, since she lived a few hours away.  I loved following her to tend the chickens where She made that praise Della, her Dominecker Hen for laying a double-yoked egg yesterday, remarking to the others they might consider doing the same. She told Sally not to start acting “Broody.” She didn’t have enough her eggs to “set” her yet. She counted her chickens and found Susie missing. Grandma got a long stick and poked under bushes till she flushed Susie out from her “stolen” nest. I felt so important crawling way under the bush bringing two warm eggs. Chiding Juanita, an ornery red hen, she threatened to invite her to Sunday Dinner, saying “You’ll make some mighty fine dumplings if you don’t lay a couple of eggs this week!” I wasn’t that invested in Juanita and don’t recall whether we had dumplings or not.  Once I had the thrill of seeing Grandma fearlessly make short work of a black chicken snake lounging in a nest with an egg in his mouth.  Unbelievably, she grabbed him barehanded and slung him to the ground, where she dispatched him to snake heaven with the shovel she always carried outdoors.

Daily, we walked her yard, shovel in hand,checking out the flowers, moving one or two that needed a better home, filling a hole here, rooting out a weed there.  She gathered tomatoes, okra, and squash from the garden, later serving them at lunch, tomatoes still warm from the sun.  Before one, we made the ritual walk to the mailbox with a letter or two.  Grandma often got two or three letters a day since she wrote to numerous friends and relatives.  She’d read these to us as a group, “Oh!  Winnie’s girl Opal’s little girl is a princess in the school play.  She’s your third cousin.  All of Winnie’s kids did good.  They were all smart as whips!” going on to tell us stories of her girlhood with the distant Wiinie.

I envied my unknown cousin, though I’d never wanted to be a princess before or since.  Sometimes, the letters included pictures, which we poured over.

As my granddaughter and I relaxed in a dear friend’s garden, I collected cleome seed to share with her sometime down the road, a reminder of this day.  I do hope my little one recalls sweet stories of our our times together.

The More Things Change

 

family6Grandma slipped silently out the back door.  The last I remembered, I’d been asleep on the train.  Not wanting to be left alone, I rolled to my belly and hung off the edge of her high bed, my pudgy feet peddling till I thudded solidly to the unfinished wood floor.  Following her out into the dewy grass of the early daylight, I saw her lurching one-sidedly under the burden of a heavy bucket of corn in one hand, a shovel in the other, totally unaware of being tailed.  As I padded silently behind, sandburs pierced my baby feet.  Dropping to my round bottom, I screamed at the insult.  The grass at home was soft and welcoming.  Startled by my banshee cries, Grandma turned.  “Oh my Lord.  I thought I shut the door behind me.  You could have gotten in the road!”

Dropping the bucket of corn, she rushed over to comfort me, seating me on the shovel blade to pick sandburs out of my feet.  By the time she’d finished, I pointed out a huge yellow road grader a few yards away on the side of the dirt road.  “You want to see that?  Okay.  We’ll Go over.  It’ll be a while before the workers get here.”  I stood on the shovel blade and bent to hold the handle as she pulled me over to have a closer look, lifting me as high as she could to get a closer look at the gigantic tires.   I am still fascinated by heavy machinery. 

After I had my fill of the road grader, we went back for her bucket of corn to feed her chickens.  I liked the chickens just fine, though they weren’t nearly as interesting as the road machine.  We had chickens at home.  The barn next to the chicken yard was a different matter.  Since the grass was worn away between the two, I toddled over to have a look.  A chain with a padlock ran through two holes in the big double doors, denying me entry.  I peeked through into the shade of the barn to see a child-sized table and chairs, rocking horse, tricycle, and a red wagon.  Grandma’s little black and white dog dropped to his belly and wiggled into the barn through deep, sandy hole worn under the doors.  I dropped to my belly tunneling right behind him.  Had Grandma moved just a little slower, I’d have earned my prize.  Instead, she pulled me by my bare feet back into the barn yard. 

I howled in protest as she explained those things belonged to the child of the landlord and were off limits to me.  I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around that, having no idea what a landlord was, but I knew what toys were, and meant to have them.

Back in the house, after that major disappointment, Grandma cooked breakfast, and I met my first true love, bacon.  I have not tasted anything that wonderful before or after.

That is my first conscious memory, though I must have been familiar with Grandma.  Mother dated it to around the time I was eighteen months old.  I am older now than Grandma was then, and  like her, carry a shovel as I putter in the yard, an excellent implement to have on hand for a little impromptu digging or snake-killing.  Some things never change.

sun hat

 

How to Live All Your Life

Pencil sketch of Roscoe Holdaway by Kathleen Holdaway Swain done in 1941 when she was twelve.Kathleen's Pencil Sketch of Roscoe 1941On her last visit with her father, she tried to spend a lot of time with him, knowing it was unlikely she’d see him again.  Overwhelmed with the demands of a large family, she often felt her life was not her own.  Most afternoons, she struggled to get both little ones to nap at the same time and used that precious time to catch up on her laundry and whatever she couldn’t get done with them underfoot.  She’d come to visit with the intention of staying two weeks, but extended her visit to a third week, trying to get a lifetime of visits in before she lost him.
Up since five-thirty with a teething baby, she finally got both little ones down for a nap after lunch.  Though she yearned for a nap herself, she joined her father on the porch.  Watching from the open door, she memorized him before going out, think how frail he looked in his wool coat and old felt hat humped over in his straight chair in the brutal, August of the afternoon.  He’d laid his paperback Western open-faced on the porch-floor.  Inferring he must be heartbroken, knowing he couldn’t live much longer, she took a seat beside him thinking he might have something to say.
“Kat,” he started.  “I’ve been watching those ants on the ground down there.  Look how they are so busy on their little trail.  Some are rushing forward to pick up a load, and some are headed back to the nest all loaded down.  Every once in a while, a few of them stop to talk then turn round and round in the trail before getting back in line. Isn’t that something?”
Surprised to hear of his pleasure in the ants, she realized he wasn’t sad at all, just absorbed in their activity. She sat with him till her little ones awoke and called her back to the ant trail of her life.
That was the last time she spent alone with him.

Joke of the Day

An older couple was sitting on the patio sipping wine and enjoying the sunset.  Out of the blue, she remarked, “I really love you!  I don’t know how I could live without you”. ” he asked,”Is that you talking,or the wine?”. Her reply, “That’s me talking to the wine.”

Not Far From the Tree

imageI recently asked my son if he’d pick me up in the airport upon a return flight if I came into Dallas instead of Shreveport, since  I’d been fortunate enough to find a forty-seven dollar ticket.  Thinking what a good son he was, since I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks, I happily purchased the cheap ticket, telling him I’d email him the gate and time details later, knowing he’d already agreed to the date.  A few days later, completely out of the blue, I got this text.  “Mom, we are at the airport.  Which gate is it?”

I was horrified.  Dallas is two and a half hours from Shreveport.  Surely I hadn’t somehow given him the wrong date.  I tried to return his text.  No reply.  After a few minutes I got him by phone.  He was laughing hysterically, enjoying my panic.  Of course, he was just tricking me.

Realizing I owed him, I decided to send him this horrible picture, hoping he’d be repulsed.  He certainly deserved it. Instead, I got a return email, asking me if they made matching pants so me, him, and his grandmother could get a matching set.

My apologies to the artist.

Fathers and Time

good pic of DadI hadn’t seen this picture of my father until recently.  He died in 1981.  This is so typical of how happy and loving he looked the last few years of his life, once his children were grown and he retired.  He was a loving grandfather, endlessly patient and loving.  He never tired of his grandchildren.   At this point in his life, he couldn’t get enough of his family.  I am glad to have this memory.

Too Much Time on Our Hands

Bud 3 

We are allowed to burn, so I put a few little scrawny vines that I didn’t want in the compost heap in our fire pit late this afternoon.  Bud was catching up on the Civil War and working  on his banjo playing when he heard me piddling around.  Having very little confidence in my ability to perform simple tasks on my own, he rushed out to save the world, Continue reading

The Things We Do For Our Kids! Guest Post By Cordelia’s Mom

Cordelia CardI am so proud to that Cordelia’s Mom did this Guest Post for Mother’s Day.  Please check out her lovely blog.  You will love it as well.

It was the mid-1950’s.  I was in first grade.

Mother’s Day was approaching, and my teacher decided to have us all make noodle necklaces for our moms.  She brought in a variety of dry noodles, along with string and water paints – and wrapping paper.  I was so proud of my creation!  Mom was going to love  it!

On Mother’s Day, I watched my mother open her precious gift. She oohed and aahed, and put the necklace around her neck.  I was so happy to see her wear it that day – I thought it was the most beautiful jewelry she ever had.

My mother didn’t work (back then, few did). Her only recreation was going bowling once a week in a league with other mothers.

Her annual bowling banquet was the week after Mother’s Day.  I watched my mother dress in her most beautiful (to me) outfit, high heels and all.  As she started to reach toward her jewelry chest, I told her she should wear the necklace I made because it was better than anything she had in that jewelry chest.  And she put that necklace on and left the house for her banquet.  I was so proud!

Fast forward approximately 25 years.  I was now a young mother whose girls often brought me hand made gifts.  One Sunday, I was visiting Mom, and we got to discussing little girls and how to raise them.  The subject of the noodle necklace came up.  I chuckled and told Mom that I was sorry I made her wear that necklace to her banquet, and that I now understood that she probably took it off as soon as she was out of eyesight.

There was a silence as my mother thought fondly back to that day.  Then, she told me:

No, I didn’t.  I wore it all evening and told all the other mothers that my little girl made it for me.”

And that’s how I learned to be a mother. Mom was tough when it was called for, but she loved her kids and made sure that we all knew that.

Mom once read about a father who told his child, “You are my favorite, but don’t tell your brothers and sisters because it would hurt their feelings.”  After the old man died, the kids were comparing notes and discovered that he had made that statement to each and every one of them.  Mom thought that was a wonderful way to make a child feel special – and while neither she nor I ever tried it with our own kids, we both understood the philosophy behind it, and tried to love each child in the way that child needed to be loved.  I know she succeeded; I hope I did, too.

Happy Mother’s Day!  If you have children, give them hugs from me.  If your mother is still alive, give her a kiss on her aging cheek.  And if you are a mother, may you be showered hugs, kisses and homemade gifts from your own children.

Thanks, Linda, for allowing me to guest post for you today.  I will hold you to your promise to reciprocate on my blog!

I love to hear from my readers.  You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com.

Image by Cordelia’s Mom

Epiphany on Retirement

We’ve been married more than forty years, but we both just retired.  It’s like getting married, except no honeymoon.  I get up early to write and make coffee.  Bud gets up, fixes our coffee and we drink coffee for a while.  I cook breakfast and tidy up a bit while Bud checks the history channel to see what Hitler is up to today or to see which Global Continue reading