I remember seeing Grandma wearing her bonnet with a hoe in hand, working tirelessly in her garden. It was like watching a magnificent work of art. She enjoyed planting, hoeing, weeding, and harvesting. She had a garden until she was in her early 90’s. She also had several fields of alfalfa and feed corn for the animals. I always wanted to be involved in working along with the adults instead of playing with my cousins and siblings. Grandma was never concerned that I would chop down corn instead of weeds. Grandma was great at pacing herself (something I should learn). After working for several hours or so she would say, “Let’s go and rest a little spell.” We would go to a nice shade tree where we would rest for a little spell. 🙂 Once, all of a sudden the dogs started barking down in some brush. My Uncle Amos, who was about fifteen years old went to investigate what was causing the dogs to carry on so. He returned with a rattlesnake he had killed with his hoe.
One year when apples were ready to harvest Mother went to help Grandma with the apples. As we sat on her front porch I asked if I could help. She never would tell me no. So, I sat there peeling and coring apples, after a bit I said, “That whore was sure hard to cut out,” I remember seeing mother and grandma smile at one another. Years later I had a flashback of that fun little scene when I innocently called the core of an apple a whore. I had no idea what that word was. 😉
After harvest time grandma would have several quilts going with neighborhood ladies who would come and enjoy small talk while quilting. I would ask grandma if I could help. She would get a needle and allow me to quilt along with them. I was probably seven or eight years old. The pictures below are similar to what I remember.
My baby brother had two children. The oldest was a daughter. After graduating from college she married her high school sweetheart and had three daughters. The last one she named after me (middle name). I had never tried my hand at quilting since I was a little girl at Grandma’s house. So, I made a small quilt for my namesake. It wasn’t quite finished when I took a trip from California to Kentucky for a visit. I made sure I remembered to take the quilt. I gave it to my niece and said, “Now, you can finish it.” I wish I had taken a picture of that quilt as I thought it turned out quite pretty. 🙂
As newlyweds, Grandma and Grandpa built their own house. It consisted of six rooms, two side porches and a front porch which was the length of the house. They had a huge barn with a loft. As kids, we enjoyed jumping out of the loft down into a pile of hay. Grandma had a hen house that was fun to investigate. I enjoyed gathering eggs for Grandma, watching the hens sitting on their eggs, watching peeps break open their shells.
There was a barbed wire fence between Grandma’s house and the hen house. Little brother and I were racing each other one day when he got the inside of the bend of his knee caught in the fence. I cried as I ran for Grandma to hurry and rescue my baby brother.
Grandma took us blackberry picking with her. We had our own little pails where we put those big plump blackberries. We ate as many as went into our pails. I loved my grandma’s blackberry cobbler. My grandma didn’t own a cookbook, she didn’t need one. I have fond memories of watching Grandma make biscuits. In my mind’s eye, I can still see those hands folding in the ingredients and squeezing the dough out between her thumb and index finger and placing the biscuits in her cast iron skillet.
In warm weather, grandma would take her butter churn out on the porch by the kitchen, where she would sit and churn. As she churned she would sing, “Precious Memories.”
Grandma had ten children. Six of them came as three sets of twins. Below is a picture of grandma with her second set of twins. The little girl on the left died from diphtheria when she was about two years old. My precious mother was one of the first set of twins.
I remember Grandma slaughtering a hog and watching her make soap from lye and fat, not any of that sweet smelling stuff. 🙂 As I look back on grandma’s life I think, “Wow! What a hard life she had.” But she didn’t think so. She loved life. Grandma enjoyed, what I call a “hard life.”
Sometimes I would spend the night at Grandma’s. I enjoyed sleeping under those nice down comforters. Grandma raised geese for the purpose of using the down feathers for pillows and comforters. As a little girl, I did not like those geese, they would most always chase me.
Grandma would not allow anyone to use foul language in her house. She always told grandkids if they used bad words she would wash their mouth out with soap. 🙂
Grandma said her hair had never been cut. She had naturally wavy hair and when she was younger her hair was dark brown. I only remember Grandma when her hair was gray. She would comb her hair straight back and make one long braid which she curled into a bun and secured the hair with hairpins.
When I was about six years old I developed a boil on the outside of the calf of my leg. We lived in the country and only saw a doctor if it was a real emergency. My mother was too squeamish to take care of the boil on my leg. I really wanted my grandma to do it anyway. So, off I went to Grandma’s where we sat on the porch steps. She proceeded to get nice clean white rags, alcohol and one of her quilting needles that had been disinfected. She pierced the boil and began pressing around it when a huge blood clot dislodged. I trusted my grandmother and didn’t shed one tear.
Grandpa passed away when he was forty years old, so Grandma lived another fifty-four years without him.
Ah, memories of Grandma’s beautiful wood cook stove that I loved, her old Icebox, the covered well where we enjoyed drinks of cold water after playing, the old dinner bell, her beautiful pump organ that Grandpa bought.
I miss my grandmother and look forward to seeing her again.
Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day…unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear.