I loved spending the night with both of my grandmothers. One lived in Grenada on Snider Street. She lived in a Tudor home built of stone and she had the most beautiful perfume bottle collection I've ever seen. Two arched built in shelving units were in the living room to house that collection. She collected "IN" stuff before the stuff was "IN". She wasn't very practical though. After my granddaddy died, she promptly put white wool carpet throughout the house, rented the house to people with dogs, and traveled all over the world. That carpet didn't look so great when she came back a year later. She didn't cook much either, but she could make a mean pecan sandwich if her cook happened to be off when I was visiting. I have several of her possessions now and I think of her often.
I loved sleeping in her guest room. It had a four poster bed and the most beautiful rose colored satin comforter I've ever seen. It was "down" filled and you felt like you had settled into a cloud when you got into bed (comforters figure prominently into my life...omen of things to come, I guess.) My grandfather had a closet that covered the entire back wall of his bedroom and there were mirrors on the doors. You could close the doors around yourself and see yourself from all directions. (Today I wouldn't dream of doing that. I haven't looked below my waist in a mirror in 8 or 9 years.) But in those days, I'd close those doors and twirl around and sing to the top of my lungs! I knew I had a bright future as a singer, based on what I saw and heard coming from that triangle of mirrors. Funny how your dreams don't always turn out exactly like you expected.
Isn't it odd what you remember about your grandparents? These same grandparents always had a pine tree for a Christmas tree while everyone else had a cedar. The small tree was always decorated exactly the same way every year, with red feathered birds and "snow". My grandmother wrapped all her gifts very elaborately. One year she wrapped one for me with a velvet hat cut from something and two black eyes and a cotton beard glued on the front. I thought it was just the greatest present ever! I hated to open it and had to be coaxed to do so.
My other grandmother lived in Sardis.You remember Nannie, don't you, the one who thought I'd won the Miss Hospitality pageant? She lived a very different lifestyle. Nothing fancy, but I loved going there, too. She would give me 50 cents and I'd walk to TWL and buy all sorts of little things to bring home, but ALWAYS I'd buy a pack of clay. Remember modeling clay? It came in "Butter"shaped little logs and there were several colors. I'd sit on her front porch and make clay animals...especially birds and birds' nests with tiny eggs in the nests. I also loved to listen to her red Coca Cola radio. When I became a "tween" I'd sit and listen to Rickey Nelson and Bobby Vee. I saw "Lassie" for the first time on her black and white T.V.
Once when I was about 5, she left me at her home with a wonderful black woman named Addie. Addie had worked for Nannie for years and I loved her. She would give me left over pieces of dough and I'd make little pies and biscuits. I liked pretending alongside Addie when she was baking. Well, this day Addie was making strawberry shortcake and as you may guess, I LOVED strawberry shortcake. My grandmother came home from work at noon and we ate our lunch, had our dessert and she returned to work. As soon as Nannie left, I asked Addie for more strawberry shortcake and she complied.
Later that night I was so sick with a stomach ache! My grandmother talked to Addie to see if I might have eaten something that could have made me that sick. Addie replied,"Well, she did eat some more strawberry shortcake after you left." My grandmother continued to probe,"How much?" "Oh, I think she ate about 4!" Addie answered. Four more? How could a little five year old girl consume 5 strawberry shortcakes???!!! (This was also an omen...I could polish off 5 like a snack today.) Anyway Addie's answer to my grandmother when asked why in the world would you let her eat all that was simply... "Miss Angie wanted them." Bless her good sweet heart. Addie always wanted me to have anything I wanted. I can still see her smiling face. She was so delighted that her little dumpling loved her strawberry shortcake! When I was older, I'd come in the house and Addie would say, "Oh, law, Miss Angie, we need to fatten you up! Have they not been feeding you at home?" I have a feeling she would be VERY happy with my figure today.
Now I've entered the realm of grandparenting. I just can't believe one day I'll be the old lady coming down the aisle at my grandchildren's weddings. I hope I can still walk down the aisle. Grandparents are a different breed. Something happens to your senses when you have a grandchild. You morph into "Addie" because you want them to have everything they want! I know it's not right, but something deep inside takes over. It's like this is another shot at getting to parent from a different perspective. You are older and wiser (and need to act that way), but those little chubby hands and someone hugging you all the time just does something to change the way you've looked at things for a long time. I saw little things down on the ground that I'd overlooked for years...ladybugs, tiny blue flowers, heart shaped rocks..all because of the little people who were now walking beside with me.
Once, Ryan (now 13 with a changing voice) brought in a little shovel. On it was a possum "playing possum". The possum was tiny and John was standing there behind Ryan laughing. I was sitting in my chair reading and a sweet little voice said, "Oh, GuGu, I have a little surprise for you." When I saw that possum, I screamed and jumped about 15 feet out of the chair, and Ryan just fell out laughing. I will never forget the absolute delight of scaring his GuGu senseless!
My grandparents played a huge role in my life and I hope I do the same for my two dumplings, Ryan and Gracie. The things I love today were in some measure introduced to me by my grandparents. Music, art, reading, handwork...all were a part of their lives and became an important part of mine. Memories of my grandmothers and my grandfather abound. Whether it was searching for "fairies" around a huge oak tree, singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in my mirrored concert hall or looking at the Madame Alexander bride dolls at Ford's Department Store in Sardis, those are the memories that I cherish. And you know what? NOBODY can take away your memories. I hope you will make some memories for some little person today. You don't have to be a grandparent to do it. Just be somebody who is passing on what has been preciously passed on to your heart.
Lessons to be Learned:
1. Don't eat strawberry shortcakes in 5's. It's best to limit them to around three. (I need to remember that!)
2. Whether you are a grandparent or not, you can be important in the life of a child. Look around, there are multitudes who need you out there.
3. If you have an Addie in your life, one who always wants the best for you, thank them now.