Monday, January 31, 2011



      Charlotte dabbed at her eyes and nose, clutching the tissue like a vice, "I remember most of all her blackberry cobbler, she loved to cook, she was a sweet lady and she loved having everyone down to eat
     William sternly, his emotions showing despite his steely stare, shared a crazy story of Grandmal and Aunt Lily scared to death one night by scratching at the back screen door, only to discover that it had been one of Uncle Alvin's pigs. We all laughed.
      So much had changed and so much had remained. So much much had been left unsaid, by myself, and held in by Ellen, who shook her head when asked if anyone else had anything to say.
     This family certainly had it's quirks, there was no denying that, but don't they all, that's what people say.
      None of us had given much to Grandmal in the last few years of her life, but on that day no one allowed that truth in. We had done our best. I knew we hadn't.
     Charlotte left first, insisting she was exhausted, and kissing one and all on the cheek she was gone, praying for each one as she left. When had she changed so much?

     Charlotte was the oldest of four children. In her youth she had won many beauty contests.She was the belle of the ball type. She grew up in the fifties and sixties, marrying young as they all did then. Charlotte had become extremely religious, filled with the Spirit, as she saw it. In the last couple of decades our family had seen so many changes in her. About fifteen years back she had left home to travel all alone. Leaving four children with their dad Rudy. Rudy never gave up on her, didn't really ask where she had been. I always felt it was a marriage that started with a little girl not ready and a loving man adoring her, but slowly enduring each other.

     William made sure mama and daddy were ready to leave. Even though he was the youngest, he being the only son had been given the duty of leader.


     When everyone had gone, my family, my husband John, kids Brian, Kelsy, Amy and Doug left the church graveyard and headed to my grandmother's home.
     My grandmother hadn't lived in her house for more than fifteen years. She had been living with her son my uncle, not two lots away from her house.
     There were so many feeling and memories about that house. When I was a child, probably until my first two kids were little we had gone there on Sundays, at least once every three weeks. When I was much younger we went every two weeks, but eventually my mother put a stop to that. I guess as I look at it from her point of view it was a bit much, especially for the daughter-in-law. But as a kid I loved going . It was like a different world.

     My father had moved to the big city, Richmond when my oldest sister Charlotte was three. My mother and father had lived with my grandparents for a time. Mother remembers it very bitterly- I can imagine.

     Grandmal cooked like crazy. There was always so much food. She always had fried chicken, usually roast beef, always potato salad, green beans with whole white potatoes cooked in, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, sliced and baked sweet and dry. I have never been able to make those sweet potatoes the same way. There would almost always be homemade vegetable soup, flat cornbread (not the sweet kind) macaroni and cheese sometimes. She usually had a relish tray with her homemade pickles and candied pears. For dessert there was always at least four or five things to choose from. Some of my favorites were her four layer banana cake her chocolate cake, and all of us kids loved her chocolate and butterscotch pudding pies, much to my mother's disgust, as she would always point out to us at home , that my grandmother's pie was made with jello pie filling. It was great! Oh and yeah coffee! At my grandmother's we could have coffee with lots of milk. It was the only time we were allowed to have coffee except when my mother would make salt heron and corn meal cakes for breakfast occasionally.

     As we stepped on the porch to my grandmother's house my oldest son quickly went to the porch swing. I cautioned him about the condition of it, but her and his brother swung anyway. So many times my sisters and my brother had fought over that swing and my kids too.
     I couldn't believe how bad the porch floor looked, but I guess it was really amazing the house was still standing. That old house had been built in the late 1800's .
     We opened the front door. My sister Ellen and I had admired that door for as long as I can remember. The door didn't go with the house. It looked as though it belonged on a more elegant old house. The door painted white, had the top half frosted glass with a beautiful scene of deer in the woods. I would have loved to have it and was already thinking of asking for it.