Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Grandmother...

My grandmother turned 95 on March 20th and sadly passed away Easter Sunday. Apparently, according to my cousin she was just 5 1/2 days shy of living 3 billion seconds. It is amazing to me to think about everything she has seen happen and lived through since her birth in 1914. She lived a long, full life and was very much ready to go meet her maker. She gave birth to 6 children who gave her 15 grandchildren, 12 great grand children, and one great great grand child. In all she is responsible for 34 lives to date.

One of most important things she accomplished in my opinion was a tight nit family. I know that I am extremely lucky to have such a close family and hope things do not change now that she is gone. Every Sunday, we would all gather at her home for a family meal. My cousin Erin actually described this best. This is the essay she submitted for her college application 7 years ago.

As soon as I walk through the front door, my hectic, everyday life melts away. As soon as I step inside, the weekly ritual begins. Sunday dinner at my grandmother's house. Some of my uncles will already be there by noon, and more relatives arrive as churches empty. Here, tradition reigns. The cornbread is hot out of the oven, and my grandmother starts the mashed potatoes. Other side dishes bubble on the stove, pies and cobblers keep warm in the oven; the roast is already sliced. My grandmother, 88 years old, could feed an army.

Her brood of six children has blossomed, and now as many as thirty people crowd her house each week. We serve ourselves buffet-style, with plenty of sweet tea to wash everything down. Smooth Southern speech rolls off my tongue as I find my accent that seems to surface only on Sundays. Table talk is not genteel around here - jokes, banter, juicy gossip, two or three different conversations all at once. The tinkle of ice in the glasses matches the boisterous laughter; sticky molasses for the hot biscuits matches the slow pace. The outside world seems distant in this place of family jokes and "Happy Birthday" sung in five-part harmony almost weekly.

The ritual never seems to change, yet I can measure my own progress by it. I knew I had really grown up the first time I wasn't relegated to the kids' table in the kitchen. After my parents separated a few years ago, my mother stopped coming. I took her old place at the big dining room table, a move that now seems strangely symbolic, since they often comment on how like my mother I am. A shy, sensitive child, the oftentimes harsh jokes used to smart when directed at me. Now I can take it all in stride and even return a saucy remark or two; quick wit is a prerequisite for sitting with the adults. Where once I was treated as a child, now I am treated as an equal.

Sunday dinners have been a part of my life since I was a week old. As a result, my family has become a part of me. I notice how little bits of them slip into my daily life. I might use one of my aunt's favorite expressions, or retell my uncle's latest University of Alabama joke. Sometimes I try to explain one of my cousin's latest antics to my friends, but nothing is ever as funny the next Monday. My family provides me with a sense of belonging that runs deeper than my routine of school and friends. That deep sense of belonging will keep me grounded, long after the people I've known my entire life cease to gather around the table for simple food and conversation.

She left behind a wonderful legacy. People stood in lines stretching all the way to the church parking lot to come pay there respects as all now close to 40 of us lined the room. I met several distant relatives that I had only heard about in stories. My grandmother's sister's children, her 101 year old cousin who surprisingly got around with no problem, and some of granddaddy's side of the family as well that are still living. Apparently our family has no problem with longevity. I joke with Michael that he is my first husband, because it looks as if he will never have a chance of out living me.

I have a feeling I will be posting more about my family later, but it is so hard to describe how special they really are. I don't think I could put into words how much their involvement in my life means to me. Sometimes it's impossible to understand without just really being there. I can only hope that I can leave as much of an impact on this Earth as my grandmother has left. She will be truly missed and always lovingly remembered.

My grandmother and her six children taken 2 Christmases ago


  1. I have to tell you this is going up there with one of my favorite posts ever.

    We can all only hope that we can carry on the amazing traditions set up by our families.

    you and your family are in my thoughts.

  2. I am happy pouting for you. :) She sounds like an amazing woman and you are so blessed to have had her as your Grandma! I have to mention too that you two have quite the resemblance...especially in your eyes. I wish you much peace sister.

  3. What a beautiful woman (in both pics), not just on the outside, but clearly on the inside as well.

    When I read her age and the year she was born, I was struck by the fact that my grandmother, who died at 69 when I was 6 (and to whom I still feel a huge pull), would be her age right now. I could feasibly still have a grandmother. I am so happy that you had yours for so long. Cherish her memory.

  4. What a tribute. I want to be like your grandma.

  5. She must had lead a beautifl and good life. It's always humble experience to respect the generation that our grandparents were in - there are so many things that we need to learn from it and carry their legacy because I always believe their generation represents something that missing in our generation...

    Such a wonderful post....

    Thanks for your support - JT came home and he's doing better

  6. Wonderful posts..I think the same thing about my Aunt Ang..she's going to be 102 this year (still kicking) and it amazes me all the things shes seen and been thru.

  7. What a fanatstic tribute. I think it would be incredible to have an extended family dinner every Sunday. That would be truly wonderful.


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