Tribute To My Grandmother…One Fine Lady

Grandma on her 77th birthday in 1980
Grandma on her 77th birthday in 1980

 When I think of what a lady is, I think of grandma.  She didn’t have an easy life, but she handled everything that life threw at her with dignity and grace.  She’s always been my role model.   Grandma always said, “Pretty is, as pretty does” and I knew what she meant.

I don’t know a lot about my grandma’s background before she was married, but she was only 13 when she married  my grandaddy.  My grandaddy was an alcoholic.  He apparently wasn’t a very nice man when he drank.  Luckily, he’d stopped drinking before I was born, so I never knew him during his drinking days.  Even though grandaddy stopped drinking, he was still “set in his ways” and probably not the easiest man to live with, but grandma did it, and loved him very much.

Grandma and Grandaddy had 5 children–4 daughters and a son.  The oldest and youngest daughters were alcoholics.  The oldest daughter died when she was just middle aged, due to alcohol abuse.  She was found dead in her tiny apartment.  The youngest daughter, my mother, actually lived to be 70, but spent much of her mid to later years battling alcholism, depression, and prescription drug abuse.  Due to all of this, my mother spent the final 8 years of her life living in a nursing home facility, in poor health.

  Now, that I am older myself, I can only imagine the heartache that grandma must’ve suffered because of those two troubled daughters.  She took both of them, as well as my daddy, who was also an alcoholic,  into her home many times in an effort to “dry them out” and get them back on the right track.  How her heart must’ve ached to watch them continue to struggle and make the same mistakes over and over. 

Grandma always had a bad limp as long as I can remember.  I believe she hurt her leg as a young girl, seems like she had a pin in her leg.  Around 1964, she and grandaddy were involved in a head on collision that killed the young boy in the other car, who was drag  racing at the time.  Grandma suffered a broken leg and was bed-ridden for 6 months due to the wreck, so her limp grew a lot worse.  Grandaddy wasn’t visibly hurt bad, but suffered a hard blow to the head, after which he began to decline mentally for the next 4 years, until he died.  Grandma lived another 17 years after he died.  To make matters worse after the accident, the young boy’s parents, tried to sue (unsuccessfully) my grandparents, claiming that the accident was their fault.   

My grandma was a christian lady, but grandaddy didn’t go to church much that I can remember.  I don’t know if they attended church in the past, but he didn’t when I was growing up.  Grandma didn’t drive, so she only went where grandaddy took her, and church wasn’t one of those places.  However, after my grandaddy passed away, my grandma was able to go to church, and was faithful to attend as long as she could hitch a ride and her health allowed.

In the early years, before they moved, I remember my grandma cooking in her tiny kitchen that had the only running water in the house–and it was cold!  Her kitchen was about the size of today’s bathrooms, yet she’d stand in it and cook a full meal every day of her life–rain or shine, hot or cold!  Her meals consisted of a meat, several vegetables, rice, and a bread.  She made some of the best bread pudding and  fried fruit tarts that I’ve ever eaten, for occasional desserts.

Grandma loved to sew and she sewed on her pedal-type sewing machine.  I remember her making aprons a lot.  She always wore an apron with a bib on it to protect her dresses.  I loved to watch her pedal that sewing machine as she sewed the cloth that mostly came from flour sacks.  Once she made 2 doll dresses for my dolls.  I was so thrilled, I kept those dresses for many many years.  After my mama passed away, I inherited my grandma’s pedal-type sewing machine, which I still have today.

Grandma loved to can and freeze fresh fruits and vegetables, too.  I used to love to watch her peel and core ripe tomatoes.  At the end of summer, she’d have rows of beautiful jars filled with fruits, pickles, preserves, and vegetables–enough to last the entire winter.  Even after she got too old to can and freeze for herself, she loved to “get in on a good pea shellin’!  We’d  go and pick her up, then all sit around and talk while we shelled the peas or beans by hand.

Grandma lived by herself for a long time after grandaddy passed away, but eventually she had to live in a nursing home.  She had several  good years, before she suffered a massive stroke which left her bed-ridden, unable to communicate or even chew.  It was over three long years after that stroke,  before my grandmother passed away.

I still love her and miss her today.  I think of  her everytime that I do something that she loved to do, like sewing or canning vegetables, but especially when I’m crocheting!  She loved to crochet, and I was amazed by the things that she could make.  It took me many attempts( because I am a lefty), but I finally learned the art of crocheting–right handed!   My grandmother always be remembered in my heart as one fine lady….

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 8:46 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Awww… What fond memories. Makes me think of my own sweet grandma. I might need to do a post about her.

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