The lost laces

Shoe lace on a sneaker

Shoe lace on a sneaker (Photo credit: MoHotta18)

I began writing this on November 27, 2013 and about two paragraphs in, I got a phone call that my beloved Granny starring in this little story had gone home to heaven.  If you are a follower, you will know I have many posts starring the precious, Granny.  I hope you enjoy this one!

 

Granny lived in the yellow house across from the  K-12 school I attended during my elementary years.  Words would not begin to express the comfort that was derived from knowing she was so close, knowing that while I studied, she was in her rocking chair with the bible open on her lap, or visiting with one of her many friends, or maybe even baking my favorite chocolate pie.

One day in particular brings back another memory of a day Granny single-handedly turned my grey skies to blue.  It was a school day and on that day, I had P.E. as we called it back then, for physical education.  This meant I had to bring and wear the required hideous uniform which consisted of blue loose legged shorts which made my bony legs even more apparent, a white t-shirt, tennis shoes and white socks.  P.E. went well as far as I recall, except for Tommy calling me chicken legs, which always got him into trouble and upset me far more than I let on.

Afterwards, for some reason that eludes me, several of us had not only removed our shoes, but our laces as well.  When it was time to change and go back to class, I discovered that my laces were nowhere to be found.  This distressed me greatly and in retrospect, I have no idea why, but it provoked me to tears.  Granted, I was well known for losing or misplacing things and I was horrified at the idea of admitting that I had done it again.   This was also during a time in our lives when money was tight and I didn’t want to be the reason for another expense, albeit a small one, so perhaps this contributed to my extreme dismay.

I vaguely remember making my way to the office, with one thing on my mind and that was to call my granny.  I dialed her number on the rotary phone and when that beloved voice answered, I whispered my dilemma to her looking away from the eyes peering at me from across the counter.  Granny told me to come right over after school and not to worry about a thing.

So, when school was out, instead of boarding the hot, smelly school bus, I ran across the street to granny’s house.

After making sure I was well fed and hydrated, Granny and I left for the local hardware store.  We lived in such a small town, I remember doubting we would be successful in our quest.  Granny swung open the door and I followed as it chimed a greeting to us and announced to the proprietor there were customers.  She marched straight up to the counter and asked for white shoe laces, without even mentioning my name, bless her heart.  And lo and behold, they had some.

Granny paid and we waited for the little brown paper bag holding the laces to be passed across the counter.  I gushed with relief and thankfulness and Granny just smiled and hugged me tightly to her.

Now, I don’t know all of the details and never did ask, but my mother showed up later that afternoon to pick me up and not a word was uttered about missed school buses or missing laces.

My heart still swells with love and gratitude when I remember how granny always made me feel like I was the most important person in the entire world.  It’s funny because if you ask my siblings or my cousins they would tell you the same thing.  She loved us all and made each of us feel like number one without slighting anyone.  Tonight I’m feeling very blessed and thankful for her highly valued presence in my life once again.

The old green couch

Princess Ayda on the old green couch

Princess Ayda on the old green couch

My couch is old and showing wear

The foot rest even sports a tear

There are obvious stains from years of kids

Babies spilling cups sans lids

It’s not so comfy nowadays

The stuffing has seen better days

Still there’s something about this old green seat

Where family gathered and friends would meet

The memories flood my mind today

Naps, talks, games and kids at play

Volleyball players out like a light

Giggling girls who were spending the night

Granny in her moo moo sipping some tea

Quiet nights with just the hubby and me

We’ve lived and loved and ate here

We’ve had cause to celebrate here

We cried and hugged and laughed

I’ve cuddled with my better half.

So, yes it’s old and worn

And admittedly even torn

But it’s hard to let it go

After all the stuff it knows

butterfly garden

butterfly garden

Peeling trees

Bananas on a banana tree. Personnal photo, fre...

Bananas on a banana tree. Personnal photo, free licence (see below). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My younger brother and sister bounded into the yellow house, excitement on their faces, along with dirt from their long day at play.   My sister, with the bulk of her auburn curls trapped in pigtails fastened with yarn and sporting a splash of cinnamon freckles across her nose, was the first to speak.  “Oh, Granny, guess what we did for Poppy?  He is going to be so happy!”  My brother was standing right beside my sister, which is where you often found him.  He was smiling too, a smile full of a sense of pride and accomplishment for his part in this good deed.  They both had some kind of juice and goo that smelled like banana all over them, enough where if we had been at home, mom would have escorted them quickly to the bathtub.  Not Granny though; that kind of thing didn’t faze her.

Granny smiled that kind of smile that grandmothers smile and animatedly asked, “Well sugar, what did you do?”  She had that way of speaking to you that always made you feel good; never a glimmer of frustration or impatience to be heard.  Her voice and tone felt like a warm hug.

“We peeled Poppy’s banana trees!  Granny we stripped every piece of the brown off and made them all nice and pretty!”

Now, before I go any farther, let me say that Poppy loved to garden and he loved his banana trees.  Looking back, I think working in the soil was relaxing for him after his long day as a fishing guide.  He liked to see the fruits of his labor and share them and he was very particular in the way the way he attended his plants.

The look on Granny’s face after their announcement went from perfectly peaceful to a bit concerned. I, being a little older and wiser knew the look and the once uneventful day looked suddenly as if it promised some excitement. She took their dirty little, banana gooey hands as they led her outside to survey the beauty of the project. I trailed along behind them anxious to inspect the ruins, and sadly, but honestly probably enjoying the possibility of the impending drama a little too much.

The trees were peeled alright, there was barely anything left.  Now, granted you are supposed to peel off the dead yellow leaves, which in their defense, they had probably watched Poppy do.

Granny elected not to share with them at that time, the trouble they were in.  Knowing her, I bet she wanted them to enjoy their excitement for as long as possible, while she prayed and figured out how to calm the storm she knew to be looming on the horizon.

I knew two things; one being that Pop was not going to be happy and two being that granny didn’t let anyone and I mean anyone mess with her grandbabies.  So, now to sit back and watch and wait for the Dixie to dock, and Pop to head home, all of which we could see from Granny’s front yard.

Pop got home and I waited.  They hurried up to him excitedly begging him to “Come look what we did for you!”  Poppy would make this snorting sound when he didn’t really want to participate in something, but when it came to his grandkids, he would usually relent anyway and this time wasn’t any different.

But when he saw his precious trees, he quickly lost his temper.  This was before Poppy had a sanctified vocabulary, so we heard some choice words.  He then described what was going to happen to their little derrieres.  Their joyful little faces quickly turned into blubbering, dirty little, banana goo messes and we all ran as fast as our little feet would carry us into the house and they jumped straight into Granny’s lap.  By this time, I was no longer looking forward to any action; I had softened and started to feel sorry for them, as I watched tears dampen their dirty little cheeks.

As Poppy angrily lamented what he thought would be the end of his poor trees and advised Granny as to whose hides were getting tanned, Granny got that wet mother hen look in her eye.  She made it a point to call them “the babies” and reminded him they were only trying to help.   She said very matter-of-factly that no one would be getting spankings on her watch.  Poppy snorted and shuffled back outside and that was the end of that.  I could have sworn I heard Granny giggle.

Before the end of the night, Granny had calmed Poppy and they were both chuckling about the peeled trees.  To this day, we still mention it with a smile; one of those things that for a few moments completely stole our peace and filled us with fear turned into one of those funny moments our family has laughed about for years.

Dust bunnies and Diaries

Will I even miss the mess?

Will I even miss the mess?

“My mom used to force us to do this at least twice a year”, I said, as we sifted through each and every item in her closet and drawers.  My daughter is quite the packrat and I knew we had better take a day (and preferably a full one) before her move to Texas to dig in deep.

As we went through every box, purse, bag and crate piece by piece, she painstakingly decided which pile the item would make its home.

Memory after memory assaulted my mind as I tried to keep this a lighthearted event.  There were the multiple pairs of Toms that she began wearing after her first trip to Mexico, when she learned she could supply another child with a pair if we bought them.  This reminded me of how compassionate she has always been.  There was the birthday card from Granny that still had the crisp $2 bills tucked inside that she had been saving; the tiny pee wee cheerleader uniform she once wore; the drum sticks that light up when you play from her days of drum lessons; the Dr. Seuss books, stuffed animals and old report cards.

She laughed as she opened an old diary and began to read.  As I listened to the words written by a nine year old, describing her days in detail, the thing that brought me the most pleasure was the happiness reflected in her entries.  So, as we laughed over silly diary entries and I again hid tears, we reflected on the past.

When you clean the cobwebs and dust bunnies from things long forgotten, it’s akin to cleaning the cobwebs from the recesses of your mind, or removing the layers of dust accumulated from years of not remembering.

Thankfully, my mind is alive tonight with so many beautiful memories that I had tucked away.  It’s a joy and a pleasure to revisit them, to recall all the good times with my family.

Digging up Memories

Reaching upward drinking in the rain

Reaching upward drinking in the rain

There is nothing more therapeutic in my opinion than digging in the dark soil, until it’s trapped beneath my fingernails, or pulling out the weeds around a plant or in a bed.  These sneaky imposters, sporting defiant root systems and a plethora of seeds would like to spread themselves far and wide, but not while I’m on guard.

There is also something to be said for the feeling of accomplishment when you stand, back aching and neck burning from the sun’s much too ardent kiss; and admire your work.

The desire to dig in the dirt goes back at least four generations on my mother’s side.  Most of my memories of my great-grandmother Hall are in her yard as I relentlessly peppered her with questions about what each planted was named.  I loved to hear the names roll off of her lips; “Why that’s night blooming jasmine, honey”, or “this is a hydrangea or sweet viburnum”.  The names sounded exotic and romantic.

Granny’s yard displayed much beauty due to her diligent care.  I can only suppose that it was her love for gardening that sparked an interest in my grandmother.IMG_3378

Many times, if you visited either of them you would find them outside.  I don’t remember ever seeing either of them in anything but dresses.   They may have worn something else, but not that I ever remember.  Of course that was when the length of dresses kept their “neathies” (as my mom liked to call anything that should be covered by clothes) unexposed.

My mother shared their green thumb and quickly transformed any yard we had into a well landscaped display of her talent.  She recruited us as often as she could to help her and most of the time I was pretty compliant.

I inherited the love as well, but unfortunately not the knack or skill; I fear my thumb is sorely lacking in green.  Thankfully, I’m getting better with age, but my kill quota was pretty high there for a while.  Maybe one reason I love it so much is due to the memories that I made with each of them.  Take some time to dig up some good memories of your own and relish them!

IMG_3379

Your cousin’s sister’s husbands nephew

Cherish your human connections, your relationships with friends and family- Barbara Bush

Family Reunion

Family Reunion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Granny, how am I related to him?  “Well, let’s see, you’re double kin because between Pop and me, you’re cousins on both sides”.  This was my life story, growing up in a small town.  It’s a wonder I ever found anyone to “like”.  Thankfully, by the time I was in for serious dating, we had moved away and there was a smorgasbord of available young men who I had no familial ties to whatsoever.

I originally had mixed emotions this past weekend about attending a family reunion.  When I was younger, it had seemed that being related was more trouble than anything.  The fact that I am a notorious introvert probably contributed to my angst.  The plus was that my husband would be with me and he is the opposite and usually fills in the gaps for me.

In the past, the mere thought of chatting it up all day with a large gathering of people would have sent me hunting an excuse to retreat.  This time though, I made reservations as soon as I heard about it and for the most part, looked forward to it.  Do we crave this type of interaction more as we age because we’re afraid of being old and lonely so we are trying to add to our list of go to friends?  Or, are my forties just going to continue being full of surprises for me?

We arrived at the beautiful park where it was being held and I was anxious to hear some of the almost forgotten stories, figure out who was who and get reacquainted with old friends and family. I also wanted to get a look at that family tree and try to figure out this double-kin stuff for once and for all.

I enjoyed watching the children running around, sounds of their laughter mixed with the lighthearted banter of the adults.  I took pleasure in the grandparents proudly displaying pictures of the most brilliant grandchild ever to be born and some of the “elder” cousins harmlessly arguing in the same way they probably did in their younger days.  The food was plentiful and delicious and I hoarded some of my Aunts delectable fudge for later in the hotel room.

I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed myself as in the past I ran from this type of event.  But on this beautiful Saturday, I found myself hoping for another one next year, making silent vows to see some of these people more often.  Some are old and we don’t know how much time we have left, to hear their stories and learn about them as well as from them.  So I ask myself again….Have I really changed that much or do I now just finally possess the wisdom to appreciate them more?

Whatever the answer, I am blessed to have so many wonderful and interesting relatives.  There are a lot of similarities and also some differences, but when all is said and done, we are blood.  We should get to know each other, be there for each other and love one another regardless of differences.

Mean big sister

It was a gloomy, cold, windy day, much like today.  I emerged, clad as an alien, from between the two buildings that belonged to the Baptist Church next door to my granny’s house.  My 5th grade imagination coupled with findings from an elderly woman’s closet probably didn’t provide the most believable attire, but the costume served its purpose in deceiving my unsuspecting siblings.

“My name is Zeus and I came from another planet.  If you don’t do as I say, I will take you back there with me.”  This is what I told my younger brother and sister in the best alien voice I could muster. They didn’t realize that earlier, I had disappeared into my granny’s bedroom, adorned myself in some of her clothes, wrapped my hair up in a turban using some material she had, and covered my face completely in white powder.  While I readied myself for the subterfuge, I prepared my story.  And don’t ask me why I picked the name Zeus, it had nothing to do with Greek mythology.

Spaceship airbornBefore going outside, I clued Granny in on my plan and she giggled and said, “I don’t know Lisi-O (her pet name for me)”, you might scare them.  I’m sure the old green and white floor length curtains rustled as she kept a close eye on my movements, taking care that things didn’t go too far.

After I told them who as was, and my intentions to take them away with me as soon as my spaceship returned, they cowered on the ground, visibly shaken.  Their eyes were wide as saucers and they hovered together anxiously awaiting my next command.

It didn’t take very long for me to either feel sorry for them, or my grandmother to intervene.  In all honesty, I don’t remember which occurred first.  However, they had to be convinced of the truth to abate the tears.  I remember having to remove some of the garb or say or do something right away to make them recognize that it was only I, the meanie; the elder sister who made their lives miserable enough without adding such fear to it.

I mentioned that I was writing this to my sister and she reminded me that after I told them the truth we all went back outside and played “Zeus and her prisoners”.  I ordered them around and they willingly complied, anxious to continue the fun.

Looking back, I have no idea why they believed I was really an alien, or fell for the ruse, but when you are young, you are more gullible, you see things through the imaginative, all-believing, trusting eyes of a child.

I know this is an odd little story, but there is comfort in the memories.  I think of Granny, laughing and plotting and rescuing.  Then there is the quality time (well, most of it was quality) spent with her and my brother and sister.  We had many “Norman Rockwell” moments  🙂

The day fingernails won me over

I was a jealous little girl and I couldn’t bear the idea of not getting the lion’s share of the attention from any adults I might spend time with.  This was such a problem with me that I would plot and plan evasive little schemes to get to have my granny all to myself.  If my brother and sister wanted to go stay with her I would remind them that granny didn’t have television and they would miss their favorite programs.  Or, I would pretend that I wasn’t going after all and tell them what fun we would have, only to sneak out and go to her house before they had time to realize I was going.  I was often a sneaky, deceitful child in my dealings with them.

I remember one time granny seriously considered adopting a young girl and I was absolutely devastated and I let her know it.  Looking back, I realize how incredibly selfish and self-centered I was, but at the time I guess I didn’t realize that granny had enough love to go around.  There is no justification for my feeling this way; I was surrounded by people who loved me and let me know it daily.  However, I strive to be transparent here, and this is just the way it was for a long time.

You can just imagine my dismay when I learned that my uncle, who at the time was away at college, was bringing his girlfriend home.  A girlfriend?!?  Are you kidding me?  This just couldn’t be.  I could not allow this to happen.  My uncle had been one of my babysitters when I was young and he held a special place in my heart.   There just wasn’t room for another woman in the picture.

Somehow, in spite of my objections to her very presence on earth, much less with MY uncle, I managed to ride to the airport to pick them up on her first trip home to meet the family.  My little heart was pounding, and my mind was whirling with ideas of how dreadful she would be.  I don’t remember the exact details but I do remember that I ended up sitting next to her in the car on the ride home.  She was tiny and had quite the southern accent.  She had beautiful bouncy brown hair, a tiny splash of freckles and the most beautiful naturally long fingernails I had ever seen.  She let me play with her nails all the way home and looking back, I wonder if that drove her crazy at the time, if she hated it that I sat there pulling, probing and picking at her nails.

Needless to say, before we even completed the hour drive home, she had won my heart and has been carving out her own private place in it ever since.  Not long after that (I don’t think they were married when we first met, but my memory may fail me on that point) she became my aunt.  She has always shown me unconditional love and taught me a lot about marriage and family and my life is richer because she has been a part of it.  I know everyone in my family would agree.

It’s funny because her son and his family were visiting me this past weekend and during church one of his girls sat in my lap and begin to play with my fingernails and it brought back such a flood of fond memories. And you know what?  I didn’t hate it at all; it was precious.

Digging to China

My sister, brother and I

 

I am always silently thankful when I see a parent explaining something tenderly and patiently to a child instead of demeaning them or yelling at them.  It grieves me when I see adults talking to children in a belittling or humiliating way, in a way that causes the child to lose their confidence.  Don’t get me wrong, I am completely opposed to rebellion from children and wholeheartedly believe that children should be obedient and respectful.  I’m referring to those times when a child is just being a child; they spill something or they ask a simple innocent question; or they can’t sit still for very long.  These aren’t reasons for yelling and screaming and treating them like imbeciles.

When my sister, brother and I were kids, my paternal grandparents lived in a wood frame house, but the support structure underneath wasn’t one huge slab of concrete.  From what I remember they were more like columns of concrete.  It wasn’t on stilts, but it was high enough off the ground that we could crawl under there and sit down very comfortably with plenty of room overhead to spare.   I should know.  My brother, sister and I spent enough time under there playing.  There was some type of lattice around the base of the house and we could look out and spy on people, another favorite past time.  This particular memory took me back to a time when had been outside playing and decided that we could probably dig our way to China if we worked together.

There was a porch by the back door and we would get under there to hide while playing hide and seek or to make mud pies, or if we were hiding a new stray kitten from Poppy.  We had noticed that we could keep crawling and get to a rather large (or so it seemed at the time) area near the front/center of the house.  This is where we decided to begin digging.  I can still remember the smell of dirt and the musty, dark, coolness under the house.

Now, before you ask why in the world we would go under a house to dig to China, please remember we were quite young.  However, we also felt we wouldn’t be discovered this way so we could dig to our hearts content without getting into trouble.  We lived in a very safe neighborhood and had free rein to run all over the place so we knew granny wouldn’t come looking for us for quite some time.

We began to dig with our spoons, sticks, toy shovels and we may have even found an adult size shovel in the backyard.  We dug until we were filthy and bored with it and then went on about our business doing something else.  I don’t remember how many days we continued to pursue our efforts, but we were bound and determined.  I’m not sure how we thought we would communicate if and when we got there.

If my memory serves me correct, as the event loomed ever closer (reaching China, of course), we finally ended up nearly bursting with excitement and had to tell granny about our wonderful plan.  If you’ve read prior blogs about my granny, you will understand why it was so easy to tell her and then so natural for her to insist on coming under the house to inspect our project.  Granny never yelled.  She never told us that our ideas were ludicrous or made us feel stupid in any way.  She merely explained that it was more likely for the house to cave in than it was for us to reach China.  And she explained it in such a funny, simple way that it all made sense and somehow we ended up almost feeling like it was our decision to stop the excavation.  Thus, it became a sweet memory and not one filled with shame and embarrassment.

I’m thankful for the adults in my life that took time to explain things and showed me so much love.  There was the occasional offender but for the most part I was very blessed to be surrounded by loving, compassionate, kind people;  the type of people who saw the innocence and joy in the eyes of a child and wanted to bring their dreams to life instead of raining on their parade.  Praise and encouragement really should be lavished whenever possible, especially on children.

Making pictures from the clouds

I was looking up at the sky today after work and was reminded of all the times I looked for pictures in the clouds with my paternal Granny.  She is very old now and I don’t get to spend as much time with her as I would like, but I miss her and the way things used to be.  I jotted this down and thought I would share it.

Growing up, my granny’s house was my favorite place to be.

We would always start our morning with a nice cup of hot tea.

She played any game our minds could imagine.

We sailed the high seas and captured the dragon.

We went on adventures from her living room chair.

We could laugh, sing, get rowdy;  granny just didn’t care.

Sometimes Pop would grumble, ‘they’re getting too loud”.

Granny would giggle and say, “Let’s go find pictures in the clouds”.

We would then go outside and spread out a sheet.

And lie there close to granny to see what we could see.

She made the best chocolate pies with meringue on the top.

Then, she might prance through her kitchen riding a mop.

She loved to see our laughter, always wanted to have fun.

But even granny knew when the silliness was done.

Silky grey hair all scooped up in a bun.

There was a lot more to granny than just having fun.

She showered her family with unconditional love.

And honored her Father in heaven above.

You would often catch her kneeling by her bed lost in prayer.

She made sure that you knew, for your soul you must take care.

I hope she knows how much she means to each of us.

For me, she was an essential part of growing up.

All of my grandparents were incredible and every one of us knew how much each of them loved us.  I just happened to spend the most time with this particular granny and we were always very close.  From about 5 to 13, I spent as much or more time at her house than my own.  She is also the only one I have left!  I hope I am half as good a grandparent to my grandchildren as all of my grandparents were – I was very blessed!

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