Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Quarter 'Til 3, There's No One In The Place, But You And Me.............

It's one of those nights.

Pills ain't working, and I am tossin' and turnin' so rather than keep the good wife up, here I sit.

I have been doing a lot of remembering. Thinking about when I was growing up and the memories of my childhood and how the things I experienced affected me as I grew and became a man.

Every summer, I would be sent down to my Grandparent's home in the Sandhills of North Carolina. I think my mom just needed some time off from the three jobs that she held, (the worst no doubt, was raising me, little hellion that I was) so for two weeks I would be in a little town outside of Fayetteville. It was rather fun because I had two cousins that I could run around with, doing all the things that young boys did.

I must have developed my affection and admiration for strong women from those days. My grandmother was the the matriarch of the family. She had to be since she had 8 kids, 4 boys and 4 girls. One of the boys died at the age of two, because they couldn't afford to take him to the doctor for a cut that turned septic. But she raised the rest to adulthood.

My grandmother was a big woman, her hands twisted and gnarled with arthritis. She had lived a life full of hard work, and it showed. She never stopped working, always had to be doing something. Her day normally started before dawn, getting up to fix breakfast, starting the coffee in the big percolator she kept going all day and taking care of other chores around the house. Then once the breakfast dishes were done, she would go out to her garden, to do all she could before the "heat of the day" as she called it. then she would start on dinner. ( Now for all you uncultured types and Yankees, we had three meals, Breakfast, Dinner and Supper)-grin-

Dinner was always the big meal, we had such a big group eating, that the adults always ate first, then the kids came in. Let's see, we would have hot biscuits, bowls of fresh green beans, collards, black eyed peas, field beans, butter beans, tomatoes, all fresh from the garden, or canned by my Grandmother. They were always cooked with ham hock or fatback. Most of the time, a big ham was served, or fried chicken, not much beef that I can remember. Fridays we always had fish of some type.

My grandparents lived in a fairly large wooden house. I remember it had large windows, high ceilings and I don't think it had one bit of insulation. They had box fans in the summer and had all the windows open all the time. Thinking back, it had to be miserable for her to cook in the summertime, but I don't remember it being that bad. I guess we were acclimated to the heat, since I didn't stay in a house with air conditioning until I was around 18. I never remember hearing my grandmother complain about the heat, she just did what she had to, to keep the house running.

We normally ate supper around 6 or so, then when the kitchen was cleaned up, we would either go out in the backyard, or on the front porch. This was when grandma would relax. She would take off her shoes as she put it "to ease her feet", get her tin of Railroad Mills snuff and either sit on the front porch swing or in a old metal chair in the back yard and just visit as she put it. Now grandma did dip snuff, but she was very polite about it. She always had her spit can, which she lined with paper towels to keep from making any noise when she spit. Most of the time she would have something to work on when she was sitting, perhaps peeling peaches, or snapping beans for the next days meal.

Grandma was a story teller. She would tell us about our family, where we came from, our history. The hard times and good times that she had lived through. She was opinionated and was almost unshakable in what she believed. I remember once when one of my uncles was telling a story about a incident he had seen in town where one person had slapped another, my grandmother, after spitting in her can, said, "Well iffin' he had done that to ME, I would have gone home and got me a forty some odd, come back and blew enough meat off his bones to feed a dog for a week" She then spit again and didn't say anything else. There was no doubt in any one's mind that she meant every word that she said. Grandma was very old school and thought that "The S.O.B. had it coming" was a viable defense in a murder case.

She was alive when the Wright brothers had made the first flight, and had lived to see man on the moon, but she had her doubts about that. My Grandmother thought the moon landing was fake, (She thought that they filmed it in Hollywood) but firmly believed that wrestling on TV was real. Grandma didn't watch much T.V., she thought for the most part it was a waste of time but however there was an exception to this rule. Every Saturday evening, she would get in front of the TV and watch championship wrestling to cheer on her all time hero, Johnny Weaver. I can remember her so clearly yelling at the TV and almost falling off the couch in her enthusiasm when "Her Johnny" was in trouble. After the wrestling show was over, she would keep watching either the Porter Wagoner or Wilburn Brother's show. She didn't care too much for most of the music but always liked the hymns that they sang at the end of the show. She would always sing along, knowing all the lyrics of every song they ever sang.

My grandmother died as she lived. One of my uncles found her out in her garden, the victim of a massive heart attack. She still had her hoe in her hand. She died in the dew covered garden she loved so well and used to feed her family, before "the heat of the day".

The funeral was like any other funeral, but I did have my own contribution to it that no one until now ever knew about. When no one was looking, I slipped a tin of Railroad Mills snuff in the coffin with her.

I think she would have appreciated it.

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