Friday, February 17, 2017
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Friday, December 26, 2014
Sometimes, family story is as simple as looking at what has been kept and how it is used today. On Christmas Eve 2014, Nora finds joy in this stuffed Santa who wiggles his head while music tinkles "Santa Claus is Coming Town!" This Santa made her Daddy giggle when he was her age, and through the years perched on various bookshelves, stair steps, and kitchen counters in many different homes through our years of moving often. He is one of the beloved Christmas decorations we pull out of a bin when we happily begin dressing our home for Christmas every year.
An even older story comes from the wooden high chair where Nora and Santa are playing. It is also where she joined our family yesterday for her first Christmas dinner at Grandma and Papa Terrell's old oak table. The high chair, circa 1941, used by my sister in the mid 40's, all of our sons, including Nora's Daddy, and our granddaughters as they arrived and shared meals at our house. The worn spindled back, scuffed footrest, and dented tray hold stories of 4 generations (5 if you count my grandparents, who without doubt frequently joined Mother and Daddy for mealtime). That is a great deal of joy!
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
I have several pieces of antique furniture that once belonged to my mother and her mother before: an oak china cabinet of Civil War vintage, a wash stand, a library table, a rocking chair that I myself was rocked in when I was a baby, my dining table, Grandma Terrell's bureau. I have written about the dining table, and will probably write about some of these other things at another time, but this kitchen stool with its worn edges and chipped paint, has been "talking" to me lately. It belonged to my mother for as long as I remember, and she painted it this pale green when she repainted her kitchen cabinets in the house on Sunset Ave. where I grew up. It went with her to the little brick house on Tena Street she and Daddy bought in the 1970's, and when she sold that house over 20 years later, the stool went to her tiny apartment in Jacksonville. There, where the kitchen was not big enough for a stool, it sat in the corner with a circle of lace over it and held the Bible that had once belonged to my father. In 2002, Mother's dwindling possessions and the stool moved from East Texas to Sugar Land, to another small apartment where the lace cloth and Bible were unpacked and put back into place.
In mid July of 2006, Mother began receiving hospice care so I began the sad task of clearing the rooms where she had spent her last years. The kitchen stool came home to another kitchen, mine. I once thought of repainting it with cheerful colors and patterns, but somehow that didn't seem right. I had grown to love every chip and scratch, and in these last 8 years it has taken on a new dignity and task. Now, this stool is where my granddaughters perch to help me cook. When they stir and taste and laugh, I feel my mother's joy blending with mine.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
She doesn't mind my crackly voice singing "A, You're Adorable." We make it through that song every diaper change. If there is an entire clothing change, we sometimes get through several songs from The Sound of Music! She talks to me with her eyes to say thank you, and flashes a coquettish grin when I brush her hair.
Yesterday we walked outside to catch a raindrop and she smelled a basil leaf when I made my lunch. She likes dots and patterns so I choose the blouse I will wear for her. We play peek a boo and pat a cake and chant nursery rhymes. When I rock her to sleep, I sing many of the same old hyms that my mother and grandmother sang to me. We have discovered that Christmas carols are wonderful lullabies!
Our other granddaughters are a joy to me and teach me just like she does that there is so much to look forward to. They help me remember some favorite lines from a poem by Mary Oliver: "Pay attention.
Tell about it."
- all so much more fun when we do it together!
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Sunday, January 26, 2014
I am updating my file for addresses which I use each year when I address Christmas cards. This year I had several cards returned stamped "No Forwarding Address" , but one of them came from an address that made me look online for further information. There I found confirmation of my sad suspicion for the reason Charlotte and Paul were no longer living in their lovely home. Charlotte died last March. My husband's elderly cousin, Paul, and his wife, Charlotte, lived many years in Water Valley, MS, where we visited them in 1998. They were most gracious hosts and we loved hearing Paul's family stories. At that time he was in his mid eighties, and still going in to his office every day. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken salad and tomato aspic and talked about the fact that in a few weeks, another couple with their names would be married: our son whose middle name is Paul and his fiance, Charlotte. They were delighted and upon discovering that Charlotte's little daughter from a previous marriage was also joining our family, Charlotte asked what grandmother name I would be called. When I replied that at the present I was simply called by my given name, Mary Ann, she exclaimed, "Oh, no, that will never do. She needs a special name for you." Then she told me her friend's name is Mary, and that her grandchildren call her Granmary. That is how I came to have a name I now love. Four beautiful granddaughters call me Granmary, and soon there will be a 5th little girl to call me that. I have that charming Charlotte to thank for this pleasure!
She was a true Steel Magnolia - a wife, mother, and quintessential southern lady who graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in education, taught and coached girls' basketball. After she married Paul, she managed his store during his military tour of duty. Charlotte, I salute you. And I don't need your forwarding address. I know where you are.