Now that you've had a chance to read about some of my memories of my dad's family, I am back to share about my mom's family. (If you missed it, you can Read Part 1 here.)
What is that old saying about daughters and sons? I can't remember it, but it relates to a son marrying and gravitating to his wife's family, while a daughter stays in the fold. I think there is some truth to that. While I have many, many great memories of my dad's family, my memories of my mom's family, especially as a very young child, are stronger. (Not better, mind you.) That may be based on the fact that my Grandma was my babysitter when my mom worked, or it could be from the many weekends I spent sleeping over at my Grandma's house.
Or...it could be due to the smaller family size--mom had three siblings versus my dad's large family of nine kids.
Maybe it was due to my Grandma spending many years as a single parent--her bond with her children was very tight. Her kids were (and are) very close, too.
For whatever reason, I have wonderful memories of my great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
My great-grandma was a broad shouldered, soft-spoken, quilting, preserving, God honoring, sweetheart of a homemaker. She was made of strong faith. She blessed every meal and ended every prayer with "Blessed be the Jews for Jesus' sake" and I can hear her soft, strong voice even now. Granny (or Ma) nearly always wore an apron with tissues tucked into the pocket. (I have one of her aprons!) She was ready to cook a meal at a moment's notice--fried chicken was her specialty. Ma had long white hair down past her waist. She wore it in two braids wrapped around her head.
Ma and Jodie lived in the country in 'the big house', which really isn't as big now as it was back then. That house was the site of many family gatherings over the years. There was farmland out back, sunflowers waving in the wind, and warnings to us kids to stay away from the cistern. When I was really young, I thought Grandma was saying SISTER and wondered why there was a sister down in that well hole. Heh heh.
We held many Sunday dinners, Easter egg hunts, and Christmas get-togethers in that house. My Uncle Jerry would hide those eggs over and over. He wanted every kid to have a chance at that prize egg. Looking back, I think he was a bigger kid than we realized. Under his watchful eye, we hunted those eggs, popped firecrackers, swam in the creek, and played family-sized baseball games. He was hands-on.
My Aunt Jenny always lived far away, it seemed. It was a treat when they came to visit. In reality, she never lived more than a few hours away. I'm not sure why we didn't visit more. To this day, I have fond memories of her visits.
My Grandma was a dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty. She was a work horse with a high tolerance for pain, both emotional and physical. She held tight to many a family secret (this family takes the prize for secrecy!) Grandma took care of us, all of us, and a little piece of a lot of people died when she passed away in 1998. What I would give for another day with my grandma...
And that's about all I can say about that.
Christmas was always at Ma's house while she was alive. The whole family gathered for a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day we gathered again, all of us cousins bringing our Santa treasures to show and tell. The silver foil tree glimmered with bright colored glass ornaments. There were gifts for everyone and every year, Ma and Jodie would have a special bag for each family member. Those brown paper lunch bags held fruits-apples, oranges, and tangelos; nuts-pecans and walnuts; candies--usually peppermint sticks; and a shiny silver dollar for the kids. I'm not sure why I loved that bag so. I think that gift represented what Ma and Jodie saw as a traditional gift, and even though a 'real' present was always under the tree, that annual bag of basic treats is one of my most treasured Christmas memories.
The flood of memories is strong right now:
Buying Jodie chocolate covered cherries every Christmas, breaking the wishbone under the table with Jodie or my Uncle Barry, riding to town every Saturday in my grandparents' Dodge Dart, walking to Mr. Roy's store and buying a 10 cent Coke. (The store is still there in Edith, TN Now it is Dave Moore's Grocery. Dave was a teen-aged stock boy back then!), kicking through the bottle caps in the store parking lot, Granddaddy and his buddies watching wrestling on television, riding bikes with my Uncle Barry who is only 3 years older than me, Sunday dinners at Grandma's with my cousins, Uncle Parks' famous cherry dump cake, Aunt Charlie's chickens, talking with my Aunt Jenny (we could always talk for EVER)...
Mom's family memories are much more 'everyday' events and ordinary happenings. I miss the way it was and the people who are gone. Even so, there is nothing ordinary about the love of this family.