A week ago today I kissed my grandmother on the forehead and told her I would see her later. I was going on a spring break trip with my best friend to the beach. However, I thought later meant the Friday I returned. Not eternity.
My grandmother passed away the Tuesday I was gone, and we buried her on Friday. Throughout the week though, I have evaluated so much with the main element running through my mind being my grandmother. I have tried to keep my thoughts as positive as the situation would allow.
The number one thing I thought about was grandmother, of course. My grandmother exemplified everything that a southern woman should be. To most people that doesn’t mean anything, but I like the fact I am from the south and all of the colloquialisms that go with the territory.
My grandmother was very southern. I am not talkin’ redneck either because that is a different category in itself. I am talkin’ genuine southern here. She used words like “dirckley” and made cornbread that would make you have second thoughts about your own grandmother’s cookin’. It was that good.
She had her own secret sauce for barbecued chicken, and I have been eating her pinto beans ever since I could say the word “beans”. In fact, I used to beat on her fridge yelling “Beans Nanny! Beans!” It’s safe to say she raised me right when it came to the food pyramid.
She could bake anything too. Her fried pies were my favorite. She always made them for me which made me feel extra special, and she would give me a container to hide under my bed full of this delicate pastry that way my father wouldn’t eat them all.
But of all the southern elements I either watched her perform or observed, I learned that hard work was what made my grandmother the woman she was. I am not trying to sound cliché here either. Her life wasn’t easy. She was born in the Great Depression and dropped out of high school her junior year to support her family.
I know in her prime she farmed with my grandfather. She made three meals a day, did all the washin’, the cleanin’, the sewin’, and tended the farm. I know she stripped tobacco and milked cows too. And in her spare time, she raised my mom. (Okay, she actually did take the appropriate amount of time to raise my mom, but she did all of her normal chores with a kid, too.)
Since I have been in kindergarten, my grandmother has lived with me. My family dynamic isn’t normal. Most kids have their grandmother living across town or in a different state. Mine lived straight down the hallway and sat beside me at dinner every night. I have had the opportunity to watch be the Christian, southern woman she was.
I guess you can call her funeral southern too. The sweet melodies of “How Great Thou Are” and “Just As I Am” played at her funeral, and on our way to the cemetery, cars pulled over on the side of the road out of respect. I have known to always do that. In fact, she is the one who told me that when I was younger. I know it’s custom here in the south, but it awed me the short three miles we rode to the cemetery.
The most important element of a southern funeral I would say was the food. My grandmother always made food of some sort for a family whose loved one passed away. A few months ago my mom and I were in Barnes and Noble looking at a book that was the guide to a southern funeral. One of the top items was deviled eggs.
My grandmother never did that for anyone, but when I walked into the funeral home lounge to find a snack, I found what every southern funeral needs: deviled eggs.
For those of you who personally know me or my family, I am not trying to be callous by writing about this so soon so please do not think I am making light of it. Writing just helps, and I am just trying to find the most positive and sweet way to write about a woman who blessed my life in too many ways to count.