One year ago today, my Granny died. She was my mother's mother. My mother had died 23 years earlier from complications of diabetes, so Granny and I had become very close as I grew up, married, and had children. She is the person that I patterned much of my life after when I was a younger woman. She was a good seamstress, made the best biscuits in the world, and was always ready to help anyone in whatever way she could. This picture of her was made when I was a teenager, and this is how I remember her best, before she got sick.
As a mother, her philosophy was "If I can't take my children with me, I won't go." She stayed home with her children until they were school age, and then only worked outside the home a couple of times when things were tight. Her children and grandchildren were the most important people to her, and if they were happy and well, she was perfectly content. She was also devoted to her husband. He died before I was old enough to remember him, but from what I've heard, they were like newlyweds until the day he died. She told me many times that a part of her died the day he died, and she would often talk of how they had loved each other. She mostly said how quickly those 30 years with him had flown by in comparison to the slow, lonely years since his death.
I asked Granny once if she remembered when she got saved. She said it was when she was a young teen, at an old-fashioned camp meeting. From my earliest memories, Granny's outstanding quality was her patience. I remember maybe twice hearing harsh words coming from her mouth. She wasn't a complainer, and she wasn't a gossip. She loved to hum while she worked, always a hymn. I remember hearing her pray out loud at night after she went to bed, praying for each of her children and grandchildren. When my dad remarried after my mother died, he went to tell her that he was getting married. She was very happy for him and wished him and my stepmom a good life together. She was a loving woman, wanting nothing more than to see her loved ones happy and well. I told her once, when I was a young mother, that I wish I was patient like she was. She said, "Oh, Honey, I wasn't always patient!" I couldn't believe it! A time when Granny had a sharp tongue? Never! But she insisted that, as a young woman, she had been very impatient. She said you learn as you grow older to become more patient. I didn't see it then, but sure enough, as I'm growing older, I'm finding myself being more patient (not that I've arrived at total patience yet!).
I remember how Granny sobbed with grief the day my mother died, her baby and her only girl. Then she squared her shoulders, put on a smile, and carried through that week of our lives with grace and dignity. She grieved, but not as one who had no hope. She knew she would see her daughter again!
Christmas at Granny's was the highlight of my year! She always made Cherry Yum-Yum for me (although my cousin Jeff insists it was for him, I know better!). She didn't have a lot of money, but we grandkids never knew that, based on her Christmas for us. Looking back, though, she didn't give us expensive things. She made clothes for us, clothes for my Barbie dolls, tea sets, special pencils - and I suspect she bought them all through the year and put them up where we couldn't find them - but she made sure we all had plenty. We had no idea that we were poor people! LOL
When my husband joined the family, he quickly learned that Granny had cake in the freezer all the time, and he was welcome to it! LOL When she baked a cake, she would serve it at whatever family dinner was taking place, then she would take the leftovers and freeze them. Any time you wanted cake, all you had to do was get a slice out of the freezer and let it set on the counter for a few minutes till it thawed a little, and it was ready to eat. Wes's favorite was her Brown Sugar Pound Cake. She always had ice cream too - my favorite! When I would stay with her, we'd have a bowl of ice cream before we went to bed every night.
Over the last 10 years of her life, Granny developed Alzheimers Disease, and went from a soft-spoken, gentle southern lady to a very solemn, sometimes angry and mean, tiny little old lady. She was three days away from her 88th birthday when she died, so she lived a very long life. I am so blessed to have had her for so long. My life was so intertwined with hers that I just couldn't imagine being without her. I still miss her incredibly, and I talk of her often so that my children will know the heritage of their great-grandmother.
The last time I went to see her, I made sure she knew who I was, and then said, "Granny, I'm moving to Canada, but I'll come back and see you when I can." She looked me right in the eye, smiled like her old self, and said, "I'll be waiting for you, Baby!" Well, she's not waiting for me in Easley, SC, but when I step through the gates of Heaven, I fully expect to see her standing there to fold me up in her arms again and say "I missed you." Heaven sure will be sweet!