There have been quite a few grandma memories lately, which led me to think of my dad's tiny little mother. I began a growth spurt leading to my lofty height between fifth and sixth grade. I outgrew my little Swedish grandma in about the 4th grade. Grandma was so tiny that she had a hard time cooking and washing dishes in normal sized kitchens. She had her old farm kitchen remodeled to fit her size. I had a hard time helping her with the dishes from the time I was 10 years old.
So many memories - where do I start and what do I cut out?? Many of the memories are not mine, of course, but my dad's. He was ten years old when he walked down the aisle of the church to be dedicated with his two older brothers. Grandma and Grandpa were not converted until they lost a baby to stillbirth. The pastor of the church they attended told them that the baby was not safe because she hadn't been baptized. My grandfather had a major temper at that time and ordered the pastor away, and told him never to return. A young pastor in town heard about the loss and came to their home to express his condolences and to pray with them. He assured them that an innocent stillborn baby would not be in hell. They were converted shortly afterward, and had their children dedicated. My dad became a pastor and his two older brothers became missionaries. There were subsequently two more children.
My earliest memories are of Christmas celebrations at their old farmhouse with the cousins who were home on furlough from Africa. What great times we had in her cold upstairs playing missionary, or Billy Graham Crusade!
Grandma was a wonderful cook. My other grandma, who lived only a mile or so away, was younger and worked in town. She had wonderful store-bought goodies and pop in her house, but Grandma S. always had homemade goodies in her freezer to pop out when anyone stopped by for "coffee." My fondest memory is the teeny-tiny pieces of cake that she would serve still frozen. To this day I love frozen cake!
I inherited one of her idiosyncrasies - she had to go through her entire list of kids before she got to the one she was talking to or about. I do that with my brothers' names. Must be a gene thing. She had the greatest laugh - and her eyes crinkled closed when she got tickled.
Lilacs, strawberries, raspberries, "cukes" (cucumbers), African violets, the sound of mourning doves - all are things that take me instantly back to her house. We grandkids had such great times making clubhouses out of the outbuildings, creating "Five Rock Patio" under a circle of trees in the back yard, burying a bird in Five Rock Patio. My brothers, sister, and cousins all had great times in the hayloft, but I was unable to join that fun because of my fear of heights.
The most incredible story about my grandparents is hardly believable. She lived on the farm down the road from his family. He was 10 years old when his mother took him down to visit the new baby. He looked in her crib and said, "That's the girl I'm going to marry." Truly! He spent the last ten years of his life following a heart attack in a depressed state, lying on the couch, with his back to the room. He died when I was 17, so I can't say that I really knew him. I just remember his gigantic hands and how much taller he was than she. But Grandma never lost her joy in spite of it all.
One of my clearest memories is of the time after Grandpa died. Her 4 sons were trying to talk her into selling the house and moving into town. She wasn't ready to do that yet, and she was standing in the middle of the circle of these large men, telling them in no uncertain terms that she was not going to sell. She didn't! At least not for a few years. She did eventually move to town and continued to attend church - the folks who picked her up found her unconscious on the floor one Sunday morning. It's a good thing she was in town. She ended up in the nursing home for the last 5 years. She didn't really remember me when I took my first baby to visit her. It was sad.
But the saddest thing of all was when my folks and I took her on a long ride one day, to all of the places where she'd lived in her life that we could find. She remembered everything about them as if it were yesterday. We took her back to the nursing home, said good-bye to her, and she stood on the sidewalk waving until she couldn't see us any longer. Dad realized he'd forgotten his glasses in her room, so he went back within a few minutes. She was still standing on the sidewalk (I don't know why nobody had helped her back to her room already), she looked at Dad and said, "Who are you?" Heartbreak for my dad! A few days later, when they'd gone back to Arkansas, she died. My dad had the privilege of officiating at her funeral. I wasn't able to go to the funeral, because I was going back there for my other grandparents' 50th anniversary two weeks later and I couldn't afford two trips. I was heartbroken. My sweet husband came home that night with an African violet for me, not knowing that it was one of her favorites.
My latest memory happened a few years ago when my sister, cousin from Africa, and I decided to go out to the old property and see what was still there. It had been sold years before, but nobody had ever done anything with it yet. Among the high weeds we found that all of the building's foundations were still there. We found evidence of our old clubhouses, and little bits of the lilac bushes. My sister, who is very creative, picked up several souvenirs, which to me looked like junk, some barn wood for a frame, brought them home, and made a wonderful memory-filled collage. Isn't that just what God does? He takes what looks like junk in our lives and can turn it into something wonderful if we allow Him to.
As we were tramping around in the weeds, I said, "I wonder what people would think if they drove by here and saw us out here in the weeds." My cousin, the missionary kid who had grown up to be a missionary said, "They'd just think we were a bunch of preacher's and missionary's kids searching for our roots!" So true!
I just heard that a huge Wal-Mart sits on that property now. I don't think I want to ever see that. I will stick with my wonderful memories!