Friday, July 16, 2010
I bought an old wicker rocking chair at an antiques store. It reminded me of one my grandmother had when I was a little girl. Hers was black and mine is brown, but I may paint it. My grandfathers rocking chair was a wooden ladder back. They always sat, side by side on their front porch in Cumby. That's a very nice memory for me.
I don't think I really noticed my grandmother much, until after Grandpa died. I was six years old, the baby girl of his baby girl and he had my heart, as well as my attention. Grandma was that sweet white haired lady who sat with Grandpa on the porch, made pallets on the floor and told us kids who was sleeping where. She cooked for us and called every meal supper. We'd wake up in the morning and she would say "come eat your supper".
I think the first time I really noticed her was after Grandpa's funeral. All her family was there and she wanted to give her son's something of their father's. She opened his closet door, looked at his straw hats and walking canes, then collapsed in tears. She had married him when she was fourteen years old, almost sixty five years earlier, and now she was alone. I needed to know my grandmother after that day.
I heard her telling my parents, once, "Sheila takes good care of me, but maybe she needs to go play". If it was a hint she wanted to be alone, I didn't get it. I stayed by her side every time we visited.
She told me about when she tripped over a tree root leaving church and broke her arm. It didn't heal right and she could no longer put her waist length hair up. It broke his heart, but Grandpa took her to the beauty shop to have it cut. He took a lock of Grandma's hair home and braided it. I asked her if she still had it and she said she threw it away after he died. It made her too sad to look at it.
She talked about traveling in a covered wagon with her parents. She said her father had changed their last name from Kirk to Wilson. She didn't know why, but sometimes he would wake them in the middle of the night and say they had to leave. I have since tried to research this, but found nothing.
Grandma was napping out on Aunt Lilly's screened back porch one day and when she woke up she told me about a dream she had. She said she was down in a valley, all alone, shivering in the snow. She looked up on the mountain and saw flowers growing in colors she had never seen. And there was my grandpa as the young cowboy she first met. He threw down a lasso and pulled her up. Years later I saw a man on TV talking about his near death experience. He said, in Heaven he had seen flowers in colors unknown to this world. I wondered then, if Grandma had been given a preview of Heaven.
She had so many stories, but soon she would loose the ability to speak and I wished I had started listening sooner. She would blurt out the occasional word. When my brother, Steve walked in the room, she would laugh and say Calvin. I think she was saying he looked like my father. She still said Imogene, my mothers name, and cried when were leaving. I felt a lump in my throat and a deep sadness for days after going home.
She died when I was seventeen, she was ninety something. I remember her in her pink shawl and butterfly pin. It looked so pretty with her white hair. Her funeral was in the little country Church where my cousin was pastor. It rained that day, and standing in the cemetery with my heels sinking in the wet ground, I thought about her life. She crossed Texas in a covered wagon, married the cowboy of her dreams and lived to see a man walk on the moon. She lost children, babies and adults and saw her sons go to war. She delivered at least two of my mothers babies. How awesome to bring your own grandchildren into the world. How awful to see your daughter go through childbirth.
I knew she was back with her love, happy and whole, but I missed her. I still do.
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