July 13, 2004

"That's All"

When I was permitted the blessing of being removed for the summer from my own Number 4 Privet Drive, I spent the summers at my grandmother's home. I was warned to be on my best behavior as my socks were matched and tossed into the bag. While a dress or two was neatly folded, I was lectured on chewing with my mouth closed and remembering my manners.

Knowing that none of this was ever required of me at home, I inwardly chortled at what were probably the normal requests of a child visiting relatives. I never ate a meal with my parents unless we were eating out with friends or relatives. My meals were either take-out eaten in the car or alone in my room. I learned to chew with my mouth closed while eating dinner at a neighborhood friend's home. Her father had had enough of my chomping and slopping and told his daughter to remind me to keep my lips together or leave the table. I was horrified, but I never smacked again.

So, into the Alpha Romeo Spider the three of us went. Yes, three. I spent a two and one half hour drive sitting on my mother's lap in a two-seater foreign roadster. I feigned sadness at the parents departure. As soon as the car was out of sight, I skipped back into the house. And exhaled. Free! for four weeks!

My grandmother, Wilma, would feed me, take me garage sale-ing, send me to VBS and church on Sundays, give me rice krispies in a mason jar so loaded with sugar I would scrape it off the bottom and spread it on the toast as a breakfast dessert. They had cable and didn't mind me watching the oldie cartoons in the humid afternoons. We would watch Hee-Haw on Saturday evenings and visit relatives and neighbors and take cakes to little widow ladies and for selling in the church bizarres. I would be sent down the street to Ms. Brimer's house with peppers and a few stalks of corn and a plate of brownies. Ms. Brimer and I would sit on her metal seat swing and watch the cars travel down Carl Albert Parkway. She would wave as trucks and sedans would pass with someone she used to "keep" as a child, taught in Sunday School, or grew-up with. I went to sleep each night tired and satisfied to the lullaby of passing trucks on their way out of the sleepy town.

From her I learned such phrases as "rolling up the sidewalks" and "Good Laudy Mizz Claudy." I also learned to share all good things with your neighbors and tell all you troubles to the Lord. When someone dies, you take a cake and a casserole. When you pack a lunch, make an extra sandwich to share. Garage sales and church bizarres were recycling.

One evening while sitting in the hospital with her last February, I asked her if she would like me to rub some "hand cream" (as she always called it) into her hands. "That would be nice," she replied with a smile. I took her hands, holding them like depression glass, and as I gently massaged them, I began to remember all these things and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. She felt a tear drop on her finger and asked me, "What's wrong, baby?" I couldn't speak for a moment. I was struggling to keep my composure. After a few seconds of hard swallowing, I simply said, "Thank you for everything you have done for me. Thank you for teaching me so much." She tished and swept it all away with, "We just loved ya, that's all."

Now I wonder, who brings her peas and beets from their garden? Who comes by with muffins to sit and share the news with her? Do the young women of the Methodist church know of the precious jewel in their midst? I hope as women in the middle of life, we don't allow ourselves to become too busy to stop and visit. Maybe, just maybe while we divvy up the bundt cake, and pour a cup of percolated coffee, we can listen and learn more about time management than from a Covey Seminar. And as we pass the creamer, we might realize that we are definitely going to walk away more blessed than spending an entire day at one of those expensive meetings, anyway. What is the cost comparison? And what are the returns? What kind of method retention? Unmeasureable, eternal, and unforgettable-the best kind.

Posted by Rae at July 13, 2004 05:05 PM

You went and made me cry.

Posted by: Ith at July 13, 2004 06:10 PM


Posted by: Rae at July 13, 2004 07:17 PM

...made me miss my sweet grandma. i remember spending almost exact summers with her as a child. i miss those days. i miss that wisdom.

Posted by: Eliz at July 13, 2004 09:52 PM

My dad's mother "taught" me: Let's blow this pop stand.

When I was about 2 or 3, in church, during the sermon, facing the back of the church, I quite loudly said those words.

I was yanked out of church by my father for a good butt-swatting as my audience laughed.

Same woman also told me to put a pitcher of water in the fridge in the morning. That afternoon, I was told to get it along with a glass. We offered it to the mailman. The three of us would sit in her screened-in porch and chat about the heat.

I fear that our elderly are very overlooked today.

Posted by: GrumpyBunny at July 14, 2004 01:47 PM
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