Moms, Kids, Cars & Such: Past Precious to Present Joy
“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” so the song goes! It’s here! That wonderful time of bare feet, fresh tomatoes, watermelon, no school, and grandparent memories has arrived! While Man of Mine and I are facing summer with thoughts of grandparenting efforts for our five, my mind slips back to former times I recall fondly as a child.
My own scrapbook includes lazy summer days on a retirement farm with fabulous grandparents who brought the joys of that lifestyle into real time. From cherry trees to fishing ponds, cows, pigs, and even once a horse, to the old oak tree swing, and even a cocky rooster who lost his life the day he tried to peck Brother, those two old people gave us earthy blessings for many later days. Mammy and Dickie! I smile as I look back! She gave up her rather aristocratic Memphis background to follow him to the Mississippi Delta and raise four beautiful daughters during Depression and World War times; while he left the Mississippi hills to fight in the First World War “over there,” but considered the “Anglish” meaner and more enemy than any enemy he fought.
On that precious land close to Sardis Dam we played canasta on Mammy’s bed until the wee morning hours, and during the day the two cousins and I explored the hill creek beds pretending Africa was our country. Tarzan had two Janes that summer! The tea cakes made upon her old enamel table and carried to the hills that were sprinkled with red-faced Herefords sustained us until dinner, while she did all the work back at the house. Her ever-active old gas range produced crispy toast and bacon with fresh eggs from morning to fried chicken and mashed potatoes swimming in butter at night. We ate and ate from her garden the fresh yield of Mother Earth and then collapsed back in her bed for yet more canasta.
I have no idea how old she was. Her body was crippled from arthritis in a time without anything but BC powders, but somehow she kept him, us, and that old house going with no assistance until she finally let us do little things. When there by myself, I did more. We would pull the clothes through the ringer washer and hang them on the line with springy wooden clothespins. I learned to properly dust her fancy “former life” baubles. I assisted her as she froze so much produce, made blackberry jams, bottled muscadine wine, and pickled the rest. The heavy pressure cooker was her joy!
However, the thing I detested was cutting that huge lawn, but it was done for them whom I loved whose bodies were giving out. What joy for me when my grandfather Richard would turn those cows out in the front to graze! I loved those cows! When the lead heifer “Blab Mouth” led the crew to the front, I was some happy camper! Needless to say, when Man of Mine and I married, one of the first things I made clear was that I did not cut grass.
Life clips along at a rapid pace. Now it is our turn to write on the summertime pages of Miz Lou, Little Man, Rooster, Amalie, and new baby Madeline. The running competition of Tenzy with Little Man is already a hit. His Poppy “snaked” him Easter evening, which always gets a sopranic scream. Rooster enjoys already bare feet and running up our quiet street. Miz Lou loves just hanging out with us, thanks be to God! My Amalie now reaches out to me, while sister Madeline lies quietly peaceful with few peeps. We will do the simple things together, like make a tent for popcorn and movies on the floor of our bedroom. We will ride the road to get the cousins together. Most importantly, this summer we will pull out my Mammy’s old cookbook and use her handwritten recipe to make those beloved tea cakes and make new memories. Unfortunately, I am not or will I ever be she! However, I try hard in this grandmothering, ever holding her memory within.
May yours be that kind of summer, and should God say the same, I look forward to sharing next month. Stay cool and eat some tea cakes! Ciao!