On this day a year ago, we lost my grandmother on my dad’s side. She was a beautiful lady who just happened to be born on my daughter’s birthday 94 years earlier. She left this world at age 96.
Because we lived a good distance apart, I don’t have a vast amount of memories of her, but the ones I have I hold near and dear. I have blogged about her before here. As a testament to her greatness are her children. I truly have never seen children love their mother so much. I have heard others, and have been guilty myself, of complaining about our moms. I have seen children growing frustrated with their aging parents and speaking harshly at times. But not my grannie’s kids. They loved her, doted on her, spoiled her rotten up until her last days. We can only hope to be as lucky in love.
I remember when I heard about her passing. We had known it was near, but one can never quite prepare themselves for the grief that comes. To be very honest, I was surprised at myself for my emotion that followed, but it was an emotion that I had never felt before. I don’t even know if I have the words to convey it. But it wasn’t just loss. It wasn’t just sadness. It wasn’t an empty feeling. It was a realization instead. A deep realization, that if the world follows natural laws, all the people who came before you will leave before you. Of course logically I know this, but she was my last grandparent remaining. My father had already died, and I realized that now my mother only remains.
I experienced a deep understanding that I am one living person left of being an orphan. I know it sounds ridiculous. An adult orphan. But my last grandparent dying made me realize that my mom is all that’s left of the people who, because of them, I exist.
Maybe no one else knows this feeling or maybe I’m just terrible at explaining it, but it’s what I know.
But anyway, time marches on, there’s nothing we can do about lost time or lost loved ones but to keep on living and remembering them.
The only thing that stays the same is everything changes. We as believers however, have a hope because of our savior that one day we will meet again in our eternal home where there is no sadness and there are no tears. Until then, we carry on.
I am a porch sitter. I come from a long line of porch sitters. It’s a simple pleasure of mine.
Porch sitting has become a thing of the past. Heck, porches are becoming a thing of the past. I adore an older model home for many reasons, but one of them being they usually come with a great porch. New homes just don’t have porches anymore. People spend their time indoors in front of the boob tube and under the air-conditioning and porches no longer serve the purpose for which they were designed: a place to cool off and visit with neighbors.
Several years back, before I married, I lived in an old, small house with a great porch for sitting. I put up a porch swing and wrapped the chains with garlands of fake daisies. I put out a few flowering pots of geraniums. But I needed a rocker. I had my heart set on a Cracker Barrel rocking chair so my dad bought one for me.
I put it on the porch and sat outside every day watching the traffic flow up and down the busy Somerville street. People would honk and wave and occasionally stop and visit with me. Then I was in my early twenties, much too young to be acting so old wouldn’t you say? But I’ve got an old soul, always have.
One morning I opened my front door and walked over to sit in my favorite Cracker Barrel rocker only to almost end up with my butt on the ground. It was gone! My rocker was gone! Someone had stolen my awesome rocking chair right off my front porch during the night!
I remember the awful feelings I experienced. Shock initially. Then anger of course right off the bat. Man, I was mad. Then I was sad; my chair was gone. Then dumbfounded, in awe that someone would do that. Then came a sense of fear. That someone possessing harmful intent inside of their heart was that close to my house, three steps from the inside where I slept peacefully the night before. Finally, came a terrible feeling of violation.
My dad was just as mad. He said he hopes whoever stole my rocker gets a splinter in their butt!
So he bought me another rocking chair from the Cracker Barrel. I was determined to keep this one from getting stolen, although I didn’t know how save dragging it into the house every night. A friend of mine came over with a small solution. He tied something of a chained cord of some sort (kinda like a bicycle chain) around the leg of it and drilled it into the concrete of the porch. He said it really wasn’t much of a deterrent, if someone wanted to cut the cord, they would, but at least it would keep an honest man honest. The next thieves would have to work a little bit at it if they planned on stealing my rocker.
It worked, because I still have that second rocker. Unfortunately it has gotten some age on it. It’s not as glossy and freshly varnished as in the above picture. It has sat uncovered for a few years. The wind, rain, and snow has taken their toll on it. My dog Drew Miller used it as the legs and arms as a chew toy when he was a pup. It still serves its purpose but it doesn’t seem to have much pride in itself anymore. I needed to fix that.
Today, I took to working on that old rocker. I didn’t want to completely refinish it, that’s just a little bit too much work for me these days, but I just wanted to give it a new look, make it better than it was. So EK and I found some paint in the paint closet; a nice robin’s egg blue and started slapping it on there. No priming. No sanding. No elbow grease. Just slap, slap, slap.
It was blue I tell you—and bright blue to boot!
After we slapped some paint on, it didn’t look that great. The wood was too worn and weathered to make a sleek look. There was several spots of brown from the wood showing through that just wasn’t soaking up the paint. I decided to just go with it. Make it a bit cowgirl rustic.
I went to JDub’s collection of spray paints and found a couple different browns and began spraying them on just willy nilly. Finally, I grabbed some fine sand paper and just scruffed it up a bit.
I wish I had a good before and after. It certainly isn’t as beautiful as it was when it was new, I certainly didn’t refinish it the right way, but it’s got character and I love it!
There are not many memories in my mental Rolodex that cause me to feel as warm and fuzzy as the memories of Sunday dinner (dinner meaning lunch here) at my mother’s mother, Grannie Silcott’s, house. The menu didn’t vary much. It mostly consisted of roast, potatoes, corn, and green beans. There was leeway at times with an additional hot roll or carrots or a salad, but there was always the top 4–roast, potatoes, corn, and green beans. Grannie S. would put the roast in the oven in the morning before she struggled into her stockings and applied a little rouge on her cheeks and off we’d hustle to Central Baptist Church for Sunday school and church.
You see I spent almost every weekend of my early childhood with my Grannie Silcott. She was widowed and now that I look back on it, I suspect she was lonesome. She was my safe place. She had a cozy home that was predictable and routine, not at all like my own. We would sit together on Saturday nights in her little TV room and watch Golden Girls followed by 227, and Cagney and Lacey. Then we’d head off to bed together. We would recite “another day, another dollar” even though neither of us had made a cent while she rubbed some awful smelling ointment on her knees for her arthritis. Then she’d lay down, pull up the covers, and roll away from me. I would ask her to snuggle me, but she wouldn’t. “You snuggle me,” she’d answer. So I’d wiggle myself up to her back and bury my nose until I grew used to the smell of that awful arthritis ointment and fall asleep.
She’d always rise early and have the roast on before I was up. We’d recite “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” before preparing ourselves for church where we sat about seven rows from the back.
At the end of each Baptist sermon, the preacher would have an altar call.
“With every head bowed and every eye closed,” he’d begin his prayer for the lost souls. I knew this was the time. I’d peek up at Grannie and she’d be gathering her purse, and with every head bowed and every eye closed, we’d sneak out the back door. We had a roast in the oven!
She wasn’t one to try to teach me how to cook; I was more of an inconvenience so she’d let me watch and at least I got to use the electric can opener to open the cans of green beans and corn. And setting the table. What kid doesn’t grow up having to set the table? I’d set her colorful Fiesta dishes around the old round table and always have to ask which side to put the fork on. I still don’t know the answer to that. We’d drag in some extra chairs from the living area and just as the potatoes were being mashed, the rest of the family would begin arriving. Cousins, aunts, and uncles. Grannie would be putting the food on the table as everyone was making their way to a chair. Then a day of fun and family would commence, with everyone talking at once.
It was in my early teenage years, after my mom and dad had separated, that Sunday dinner held a new purpose. My dad had left Pampa and moved back to Tahlequah. It was the time before cell phones and social media. Back when it cost money to call long distance. Grannie Silcott had upgraded from a rotary phone to a cordless that set on the desk in her kitchen. Just like clock work, every Sunday around 12:30 the phone would ring and it would be my dad calling to talk. Of course it interrupted our meal, but he knew it was the only time he absolutely knew he could catch us there together and could talk to me and my sister. I remember his voice on the phone, making jokes about what we were eating. “Let me guess,” he’d say. “I bet you’re having roast, potatoes, green beans and corn.”Most of the time he was right, but some times I got to tell him he forgot the rolls or the carrots or salad. He’d tell me he wished he was there. I always thought he meant because of the meal, but now, many years later, I understand it wasn’t the meal he was missing.
After Grannie Silcott died in 2004, the Sunday dinners died with her. We don’t get together as a family much anymore. Of course, there’s the big dinners: Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. And of course we always try to celebrate birthdays but it isn’t like it used to be.
In the past two and half years that me and J-Dub moved away from Pampa, I have come to understand the importance of family. Of memories. Of cousins and aunts and uncles. Of Sunday dinners. It takes just a little absence of family to begin to realize that it’s because of them we live and breathe.
Our world moves so fast. Our lives are complicated. We’re too involved in keeping our kids schedules cram packed that we often can’t sit down for a meal with extended family without an excuse like a wedding or a funeral. I want my kids to have the memories that I cherish. The love that was shown by my grandmother each and every week putting a hot meal on the table for all her kids. I want my kids to have some traditions they recall fondly when they’re grown.
So today I did it. I put a roast in the oven before I struggled— not into my stockings—- but into my skinny jeans for church this morning. I applied a little blush to my cheeks and hustled out the door. We returned to a house smelling like Grannie Silcott’s on Sundays. It wasn’t exactly the same. It wasn’t even remotely the same. There were more differences than similarities between my Sunday dinner and hers, but it’s a start. One that I hope to continue.