Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Gift of Grandparents

Tonight, I realized it's Grandparents' Day.  I don't even know if that's a real thing or not.  I only started hearing about all these holidays celebrating various relatives, recently, but it seems like a good subject to write about today.  Grandparents are certainly worthy of a holiday if anyone is. 

If you're like me, some of your most cherished childhood memories are of time spent at your grandparents' homes......

Sitting in wingback chairs with the sound of a pendulum clock ticking loudly.

A buttermilk pound cake under the cake dome. 

Peppermint in a covered candy dish.

Listening to grownups talk about the garden, the lack of rain, President Ford, or some great aunt's gallbladder surgery. 

Knobby glasses with sweet tea. 

Polyester pants, SAS shoes, and snap-front dusters in little floral prints.            

Crisp sheets and the hum of a window air conditioner unit or attic fan were better than a sleeping pill. 

The crickets, frogs, and bobwhites seemed louder there. 

A crochet throw folded across a rocking chair. 

Waking up to the smell of bacon and coffee.

Grandchildren's school pictures in frames all over the house. 

Clean, stiff laundry blowing in the wind on the clothesline. 

A pot of boiled peanuts on the stove.

Shelling peas in the swings on the front porch until your thumb got sore. 

Riding in the back of old trucks through pastures. 

It's the place you couldn't wait to go play outside, climb trees, and explore things you didn't have at home like barns and hay piles....workshops and ponds. 

It's where you learned that well water made the best tea and cousins made the best friends. 

It was where "What's for supper?" was discussed before you even got up from the lunch table. 

The place where biscuits didn't come out of a can and cakes didn't come from a mix.

It was the place where you learned where you'd come from, how hard it was to get there, and what your family stood for along the way.       
Here's where I came from.....

I remember how my Mimi's thick, white hair was pulled to the side with a bobby pin.  She was, clearly, the origin of this thick head of hair I have.  I still have the Winnie the Pooh she gave me for Christmas one year.  I loved how, when she laughed, no sound came out and her eyes completely disappeared.  She was level headed, witty, soft spoken and always a joy to be around.  I don't ever remember seeing her without a smile on her face.  Ever.   

This is how I remember her, but I love this picture of when she was younger.  So pretty.   

My Pappy died of cancer before I was born, so I never knew him, but my Daddy told us a lot of stories.  The prevalent sense of humor, that runs throughout that side of the family, seems to be traced back to him.

My Grandmother was jovial and always met us at the kitchen door when we drove up....."Who's that coming to see me?"  After lunch, we liked to go shopping on Main Street after she'd grab a quick snooze in her recliner while watching her "stories" aka soap operas.  I'd sneak Double Mint gum out of her top dresser drawer.....the left hand side.  I remember her standing at her cast iron sink for hours, putting up creamed corn and crowder peas.  I inherited her intense love for food.    
My Granddaddy loved desserts and he chose the perfect mate to keep him well stocked.  I'm not sure he ever ate a meal without chasing it down with something sugary.  He had a long litany of war stories that we all loved to hear.  He'd tap on your bedroom door around 7:00 am to ask if you were going to sleep all day.  He had short, bowed legs.....and his tiny feet, well, he passed those down to me.
I feel certain the picture on the right is the complimentary 8x10 from the pictorial directory sitting at their First Baptist Church, their home away from home.  Just a hunch. 
I have a tablecloth in my sideboard and, if I take it out and put my nose deep into its folds, I can still get a faint whiff of my Grandmother's house.  It's enough to bring tears to my eyes.  I guess because, to me, it's the smell of times that are gone.  It's the smell of childhood and love and warmth and security and innocence...and nothing awakens the mind's memories like smell.  

The older I got, the more it became a treasure.....the time spent at those houses....each built by my grandfathers, by the way.  I suppose I began to realize that, as much as their homes meant Christmas and Thanksgiving and family and love to me, that it wouldn't always be that way.  Life wouldn't always be that way.  Their hands wrinkled and their hair grayed......their walk slowed.....their memory slipped......and each time I noticed, it reminded me of that fact- things won't always be the way they are right now.....enjoy this while you can.   

All of my grandparents have been gone for years now.  I haven't had a grandparent for a decade.  One of their homes has been sold and the barns all torn down.  A subdivision sits on the pasture land, where we once played, had bonfires, and fed the cows in the winter......yes, even where the electric fence stung me a time or two.  We celebrate holidays around a different table in a different town with different traditions now.  And that's ok.....that's called life.  I was right to remind myself, back then, that nothing stays the same for long.  But, for all the years that it did........I will forever be grateful and remember each and every minute. 

Now, our parents are the same to our children.  They are part of the who they are and who they are becoming.  They are the link to their past....their heritage......where they come from.  They are the faces in which they can see part of themselves and find what's familiar.  They look at their lives and can discern the strengths and passions that have been handed down to them.  Their grandparents are testimonies of faith and examples of strength.  They have their own stories to tell of history, family, struggles, and simpler times and our children learn from their advice, their experiences, and their teaching.
And, one day, the smell of an old tablecloth will conjure up sweet memories for them.

The memory of their grandparents.

Hope it's a good know, as far as Mondays go!   




  1. I'm so thankful to share those memories with you...and cousins DO make the best friends!!

    1. Oh, Jen! I'm so glad you're my cousin friend :) I have so many wonderful memories with you.......when you weren't reading, that is. hahaha! Oh, the fun we could have with a tape recorder back then. I'd give anything to have those tapes. :) Love you, sweet cousin!

  2. A beautiful tribute to your Grandparents Joni. It is the smells and precious moments I treasure about my own Grandparents too. Soon it'll be our turn to be Grandparents and I think you'll be a Grand one! Kathleen in Az

    1. Thanks, Kathleen! I can't even wrap my brain around being a grandparent yet, but I know it will be here before I know it! I'm sure you and I will be awesome Grannies :)

  3. Joni!
    I finally figured out how to leave a comment without having to ask my resident technology wizard (a.k.a. teenage son) Woohoo! It's been a good Monday. :) Love everything you write - especially posts like these that bring to mind sweet days spent with my grandparents. Thanks so much! Hope your Monday is going great too! Dene

    1. I'm so proud of you, Dene! Thanks for your sweet words. I really appreciate it!