Tag Archives: Grandparent

These are my people

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Most of the times I come home, I drive my car past my grandmother’s old house and her farm and think nothing of it. It’s just part of the scenery I have driven by my entire life. Today, though, I decided to drive my car on the old dusty path past the red barns and the silo and made a right. My mom told me yesterday that my cow had a new baby calf, and I wanted to see it.

I took my sandals off and walked barefoot through the pasture. The grass was still wet from last night’s rain, and I walked slowly to the fence row to see Survivor. Survivor is my red cow that my dad saved when I was about eight years old. He found her stuck in the swamp on the back of our farm. She was malnourished and close to death.

After he rescued her, Survivor became my pet. I bottle fed her back to health and watched her grow. I gave her shots, and I wanted so badly for her to play with me. I soon realized that cows don’t make the best of pets and that included baby ones, too. I remember I used to hop in her pen with her after I fed her in attempts to pet her. Looking back on that ten years later, I realize how stupid that was. Survivor could have trampled me. Thank goodness she was not too rambunctious for that.

I made it to the fence row today, and Survivor was way far down into the pasture lazily laying under a tree. I couldn’t see her cow from where I was standing, so I guess I will try the next time I am home. Defeated I walked back to my car, and I started to wonder about my grandparents. They farmed the grass and land beneath my feet for more than 50 years. I wonder what they would think of it now. More importantly, I wonder what they would think of me now.

Only my mom’s mom watched me grow up. My dad’s mom was already passed by the time I entered the world, and his dad died when I was seven. I barely remember him. My mom’s dad is only faint memory of Carmelo bars, tan skin and overalls. He died when I was four, so I never got to know the man I watched drive the tractor away to tend the land.

I am so different from all of my grandparents. No one in the family was a writer. I don’t think they cared about commas and grammar and breaking a top news story. I know my mom’s grandparents knew the South. My grandparents herded cows and grew crops. They raised tobacco, too. I remember being younger and wearing my overalls and claiming to be a farming kind of girl. I loved cows, and I always wanted to hop on the tractor with my dad. Occasionally, I got to help build a fence in the scorching June heat, and I remember getting to drive my dad’s old red Toyota pickup through the pasture at dusk to just check on things.

Now, I wear dresses and tights, and my fingers are glued to electronics half the time. My nose is usually in a book studying away, and the only barn I see is the one lone barn on campus for the ag kids.  I claim I am simply Southern. I don’t think I deserve the title of farm girl anymore.

Had my grandparents stayed alive longer than they did, I wonder if I would be any different. I wonder if I would want to live on a farm the rest of my life, or if I would still have the same desires I do now, which consists of writing other people’s stories every chance I get.

I love small town life. I love the fact that I grew up on a farm, and that I still have a cow. At almost 19, however, I am the point where I want to explore the world a little. I want to see and do things my grandparents didn’t have the opportunity to do. I am not sure what they would think of me as I am living on my own in what they would consider a big city. Who knows, they might think I am heathen.

I hope they wouldn’t though. I hope they would see themselves in me what ever little part they contributed. Despite that they are long gone, I know that I got all the traits I have from those before me. My sense of adventure had to come from somewhere. I am going to guess it is from dad’s dad. He was a skydiving, motorcyclist riding kinda guy.

My love for the acoustic guitar probably came from my mom’s dad. Mom told me he used to have one and pluck a string or two every now and then. What I would give to have played a song with him, or even just pick a few chords.

As for all my other traits, I am not sure. I know there is a piece of them within me, and perhaps the more I grow the more I will know what comes from who. Regardless of where I live someday whether it is where I grew up or somewhere else, I am proud of where I came from, and more importantly, I am proud of who I am came from.

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Don’t forget the deviled eggs

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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.