Sunday, November 9, 2008

Georgia Peach

Last night I went to visit my Grandma for a couple of hours. I love my Grandma. She's a strong southern woman, a real lady. I love listening to her talk in her southern drawl. It makes everything she says sound a little bit feistier.

I admire this woman. She's strong, yet feminine. She's quiet, yet observant. And she's wise. So very wise. This is a woman who spent most of her life as a pastor's wife, living under constant scrutiny and judgment from others. She raised 6 children while sharing the attention of her husband with hundreds of other people. But she held her head high and never complained. I am so glad my daughter has a family full of strong women to look up to.

Last night Grandma surprised me. She's at that point in her life where she feels she needs to start eliminating things, keep it simple. She feels there's no need to keep hanging on to stuff that she doesn't have room for anymore. For years she has collected the Department 56 Dickens Christmas Village. I have always loved looking at it during the holidays. And last night when I got to her house, the entryway was full of boxes. The Christmas Village, all boxed up and waiting for me to take home. And equally precious, her Mickey Mouse cookie jar that I have loved and admired for over 20 years, now a part of my own Disney cookie jar collection.

I was so thankful for her generosity and so honored that she asked me to have them. But it was a bittersweet moment. It's sad to think that she is getting to that point where she feels the need to simplify, because as she said "You can't take it with you."

I have been so lucky in my life to have two sets of grandparents to learn from. And I really believe that each one of them left a lasting imprint on who I am today. I lost my fabulous Grandpa G eight years ago, followed by the devastating loss of my Grandma G three years later. And then my sweet Grandpa B last year. Grandma B is all I have left. It sucks being at the age where you start losing the people closest to you.

I realized last night that all I can do is learn as much as I can from her, soak in her strength, her polite southern charm, her ladylike manners. I need her recipes for scalloped potatoes and pimento cheese spread (hey don't make that face, I am the pickiest eater on the planet and I could eat this stuff 24/7).

Hopefully I can not only pass on her possessions to my babies, but also those qualities in her that I admire most.


Becky said...

Awww, that is a sweet tribute. ;)

It is bizarre when the grandparents start to "frisk" the house of all of the unnecessary grandma talked about it every time I visited as a kid. (Let me know if there is anything you want...blah blah....)

The last time I was back there, about a decade ago, I was going to ask for some photos of my dad growing up, and my dumb aunt had literally picked her house clean.

You can absolutely treasure the "things" she gave you as a tangible means of remembering her great qualities, her fun side (I mean you have to be fun with a MM cookie jar), and the memories that filled your years around that Christmas village!

Truly priceless! :)

Kristi said...

I had a southern Grammy too and there is nothing quite like those strong and sweet ladies from another era. You are so lucky you still have her in your life! I miss mine every day.

kristen s said...

That's so sweet, April. I, too, have just one granparent left, and she's also a southern belle. She's 88 years young, still lives by herself in the home her husband and father built together and she still works! She's an usher at a theater in Ft. Worth, TX because she likes to see the shows for free :) As long as I've been alive, she's been taking care of people -- literally -- until they die. If I can be a fraction of the person she has been in this lifetime, I'll have done okay.

I'm sure your grandma gave you those prize posessions because she knows you truly appreciate what they've always meant to her. You're lucky to have her, but quite obviously she knows she's lucky to have you too :)

chandy said...

How very lucky you are! I must admit that I'm quite envious of people with grandparents. All of mine passed away before I was really old enough to have many memories of them. You should document some interviews about the details of her life...maybe even record them!

Sue said...

April, I know you know this, just by your post, but you are SO lucky to have your Grandma still with you, and even luckier to live close enough to visit with her. I lost my last grandparent, my dear, sweet Grandma "Omi" just over 8 years ago, and miss her every day. She lived in Germany, and I only got to visit with her a handful of times as an adult. I treasure those memories, and cherish every minute I had with her. The memories I have of her and her thick German accent, the giggles and the smiles we shared are priceless to me. Please give your Grandma B an extra hug from me the next time you visit with her. I would do anything to be able to spend another minute with my Omi.

for a different kind of girl said...

This was a beautiful post. You truly are lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy this much time with your grandparents. Passing down what you've learned from them, from your Grandmother, is such a special way to always remember them.

DutchMac said...

Two things.

1.) I'm totally with you on the grandparent possessions thing. When my grandmother passed a few years ago, I announced to the whole family 'I claim Grandma's recipes/cookbooks and her pots and pans. I won't fight you over anything else, but those things are worth spilled blood to me!' And I treasure the authentic, original 1953 BH&G cookbook with brittle yellow pages and Grandma's notes written in the margins. It's like having another little conversation with her everytime I turn to a new page.

2.) When my grandfather passed away 10 years ago, my uncle had had a random impulse just a couple months earlier to fly out to see his dad and bring a (tape) recorder to 'interview' him about his life. It was the most amazing thing to have my grandfather's voice tell the story of his life, hearing so many things none of us EVER knew about the man. I can't recommend highly enough EVERYONE doing this before things get too late. Just sit down and talk to these people, and take something to make sure you capture the event so you can re-live it forever. It will be more priceless to you than any artifact in their house, no matter how many memories are attached to those wonderful Christmas houses and cookie jars.

Now go enjoy and treasure that amazing woman as much as you can!