This is J.J. my daughter’s white parakeet. I guess that makes him my “grand bird.” He is a very nice guest and will be staying at Camp Grandmother’s for a week or so. J.J. is named for John James Audubon.
Life has been an adventure and I just realized that sounds like it is coming to an end. That isn’t what I mean, but after seventy-seven years on this orb, I have much to look back on. Education was fun and my career was satisfying, but pure joy only comes from sharing life with those you love. I am blessed by two wonderful daughters who brought sons into my life; even though they are called sons-in-law they are much more. Thirty years ago my first granddaughter was born followed seven years later by the second. It is hard to believe that it was so long ago because my memories of them as children seem so fresh.
From the beginning of their lives, they spent a lot of time with their Grandfather, who they called Pop, and me, Grandmother. As they grew our games became more complex but none were more fun than pretend. The oldest, Katie, was an actress and she loved getting into character and acting out elaborate roles. Her younger sister, Elizabeth, was fine with pretend too, but also loved being outdoors following her Pop around as he worked.
As they got older we went on short vacations each year before school started. One year we went to Kings Island in Cincinnati and another we spent a few days taking in the sights of Chicago. We shopped for back-to-school clothes and before we knew it grade school became high school and then college. Their days of staying at Camp Grandmother and Pop’s may be over, but the fun memories remain forever.
Kids Are Listening
Never doubt that kids are listening to what adults are saying. They may appear to be in their own little worlds, but they hear us. An example of this (based upon contemporaneous notes) goes way back to 1993 when I was visiting the cemetery at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church with my daughter and toddler granddaughter, Katie.
As my grandmother had done before, https://crookedcreek.live/2019/05/14/kids-2/ I walked from grave to grave telling my daughter of the lives and deaths of those buried there. There were the graves of two generations of grandparents, many aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as my parents and a young brother. Katie played nearby running around and singing.
At one point she interrupted my dissertation and was told by her Mom to wait her turn. A few moments later we asked Katie what she had wanted and this is what transpired: Katie squatted down in front of a random tombstone and began, “See and when my uncle, he came to work and he had a wreck and see he died.” She was listening and learning and at a little over two-years-old, she was replicating my actions and words in this place of sad memories.
“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Charles Swindoll
Hollyhock Photo by Pixabay
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Kids and Grandmothers and Flowers
The other flower that I distinctly remember from time spent with Mammy https://crookedcreek.live/2019/05/12/kids/ was the peony. The peony is a large bush with lush blossoms in shades of red or pink or pure white. They bloom in May and were always ready for Memorial Day, known as “Decoration Day” out in the country many years ago. It is also worth mentioning that peonies were incorrectly pronounced pee-ON-nies as opposed to PEE-on-nies back in the day.
I would help Mammy cut all the peonies off the bushes and then we would assemble them in bouquets to take to the cemetery at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. While we walked among the graves of my grandmother’s parents, brothers and friends she would tell me about each one. Often the details included the way they had died as well as the way they lived. We would lay a bouquet of peonies on each grave. My favorite bouquets for Decoration Day were made up of the snow white flowers.
It never occurred to me that one day I’d walk in that same cemetery with my own granddaughter. See Kids 3 coming up.
“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.” Thomas Tusser
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NOTE: A reader sent this photo to me via email and I wanted to share it with you. It is regarding the last post about hollyhock flower “girls” and the ones in this photo are very similar to the ones I made with my Grandmother. The main difference is that ours wore bonnets. Thank you, Gerri, for the photo that demonstrates what I was trying to convey.
Photos by Pixabay
Kids and Grandmothers
When I was a little kid my maternal grandmother, “Mammy,” spent a lot of time with me. Not only did I learn practical lessons about life from her, I subconsciously learned what it was like to be a loving and giving person. While I haven’t always followed her example, I know she was a big influence on the adult I became.
One of the things that I recall about Mammy is that she always offered visitors to her humble home, whether family or friends, something to eat. It might have only been a homemade biscuit and jam or perhaps a glass of iced tea, but something from the kitchen would be provided.
She was also a good neighbor. My grandmother could be called upon to help deliver a baby or sit with a sick friend. She had no telephone but would be fetched in person by a knock on the door of her tiny little house.
Many memories of Mammy include flowers. She raised various types and two kinds stand out in my memory. First were the hollyhocks:
Hollyhock is an odd name for a flower, but oh the potential of these plants in Mammy’s hands. She spent hours with me making beautiful “girls” who we then used in all kinds of pretend stories and adventures. All it took was a toothpick for the backbone that held everything together and a stalk of hollyhocks. Different size blooms, inverted, made the attire and a head was fashioned from an unopened bud. Facial features could be made by piercing the bud with the toothpick. The puncture points then darkeded for eyes, nose and mouth. Each girl ended up looking like a southern belle ready for a plantation ball. I wish I had some hollyhocks so that I could create one for you, but this marked-up photo is the best I can do. I hope your imagination does the rest.
“I know what it is like to be brought up with unconditional love. In my life that came from my grandmother.” Andre Leon Talley
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Photos by Pixabay
Born one year ago to spend a few brief moments in the arms of his parents and then forever in our hearts.
He never smiled, never smelled the spring air, nor felt sunshine on his face.
He will never blow out birthday candles nor ride a trike, but he is loved, and
He never cried, never lived in earth’s pollution.
He never heard the word “no,” nor felt the sting of discipline.
He will never be sick, break an arm, nor scrape a knee.
David was, without reason or plan, transported from his mother’s safe, loving body to the arms of Jesus, who weeps for our sorrow. We hurt for our loss, but are comforted by the assurance of heaven.
David Tyler Clay Puckett Born April 9, 1987. Parents: Allison & Stan Puckett. Poem written by Grandmother 4/9/88
Part 3 of 7
Photos by Pixabay
WINDS of CHANGE
“Change is going to happen, just as the wind is going to blow.”
How to live in The Winds of Change
When I was a kid I could make a phone call on a rotary pay phone for a dime. As I got older it went up to a quarter. Long distance phone calls whether from home or a phone booth were very expensive and required the help of an operator. For you younger readers an operator was a person, nearly always female, who physically plugged in connections to your party.
Do you have a rain barrel at your home? I don’t expect many, if any at all, will respond “yes” to that question, but I have seen one or two in recent years as homeowners become more green. When I was a little girl we had rain barrels to collect water used for washing clothes. That water was filled with “wiggle-tails” (insects) which swam around jerkily near the top of the water. Looking back I strongly suspect they metamorphosed, i.e., changed, into mosquitoes. I also vaguely remember having a baby duck which I let swim round and round in a rain barrel until it grew too big.
One day I was upset that my older brother and his friends were swimming in one of our farm ponds and I wasn’t allowed to join them. I don’t remember being given a reason but would bet it had to do with being too young or more likely, being a girl. So, my Mom’s answer to my unhappiness was to lift me over into a rain barrel and order me to “Play and have fun” while she watched to be sure I didn’t drown. Is it any wonder that I remain a non-swimmer to this day?
Please bear with me for one more example of change from my childhood. My maternal grandmothers cooked everything from scratch. My paternal grandmother (Grandmother) milked her own cow morning and night and made butter from part of the milk. My maternal grandmother (Mammy) even picked the nut meat for baking out of walnuts and hickory nuts that she gathered from her yard. I recall hearing her sharing a recipe once and the only part that I remember is that she said to “Add lard about the size of a hen egg.” I wish I had been inquisitive enough to ask whether other of her recipes, which were never written down, might have required a different size egg, e.g., a goose egg or perhaps a bantam egg?
SUMMARY: Over the past few weeks, we have looked at change in various ways.
- Is change good?
- Is it inevitable?
- Do we basically stay the same in spite of the changes we experience around us?
Several readers have commented about the aspects of change you find either uncomfortable or reassuring.
THE ANSWER: is blowing in the wind, my friend. It is blowing in the wind. Please listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G58XWF6B3AA
And, what does this mean to you? Are we part of the answer? Are we helpless, buffeted endlessly by the winds of change? Bob Dylan, one of my favorite musicians, by the way, is ambivalent therefore the interpretation is up to each of us.
Katherine Whitehorn* made this significant point worth remembering: “The wind of change, whatever it is, blows most freely through an open mind …”
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward
*British journalist, writer, and columnist born in 1928. She was known to be a keen observer of the changing role of women.
Part 4 of 4
Theme photo by Pixabay