Monday, November 1, 2010

Biscuits, Jello, and Corn Cob Babies or Why You Should Call Your Grandmother

My MaMa (pronounced Maw maw, but apparently, we are too refined to spell it that way) has been sick.  Last Sunday, she suffered what turned out to be a mild heart attack, although any heart attack at 88 seems like it should not be paired with the word "mild".  Over the last week, she has been sad and then deliriously happy and then back to sad again.  She can barely hear, so she accuses the nurses of being unfriendly and of not answering her questions.  She can't seem to get a handle on the time and date so she has been ready for bed at 10 a.m. and talking about how busy the weekend must be, even though it was actually Thursday.  

My dad's mother, Kathryn Elizabeth O'Dell, is quite the storyteller, and because she grew up in what seems like another world, it's a good thing she is.  I have great memories of being piled up on her hide-a-bed with Craig and Kari and Jana and listening to her tell about the time she was washing underwear in a water bucket beside the well house and a pair of panties accidentally fell into the well.  Oh, I just hope she was finished washing them.  She told a story about two families in her neighborhood that traveled to see when the local black family had a baby.  They had never seen a black baby before and were just too curious.  She went to school in a one room schoolhouse through the eighth grade.  During the colder months, the boys would build fires in the little pot-bellied stove, and she would warm her shoes next to it.  Her dad cut logs to put over the creek so that she and her brothers could cross on the way to school, but wouldn't cross alone and depended on her brother Robert to help her across.  She picked cotton, did her homework on the back of bank calendars, used Sears and Roebuck catalog pages as toilet paper, and played with corn cob baby dolls, baptizing them into the family of God in the animal trough.

At seventeen she married a man she didn't know, secretly taught herself to drive while her husband worked and her young children played in the yard, and she has watched the world change into something she can't keep up with.  She has never used the internet, although I keep telling her that I will help her, if she wants.  She doesn't own an ipod and has never DVR'd anything.   She would watch the Game Show Network exclusively, I believe, although her favorite has always been Wheel of Fortune.   She makes great homemade biscuits and yeast rolls, and when her grandkids were younger, she kept little gray Tupperware parfait cups of jello in her refrigerator.  Those were my favorite.  

She is the only grandparent I have left, and I am sad that my kids probably won't know her.  She will be eighty-nine in December, and though she is mostly healthy, she has been talking about it being her "turn" to go for years.  Right now she is sitting in a rehab facility waiting to regain a little strength so that she will be able to return to my parents' house, where she lives.  I am going to go visit her in a little while.  I might take my guitar, and if it won't wake up her roommate, I might play something.  I don't know how much longer she will be this alert, this healthy, and this alive.  So I will take advantage of it.  If you are lucky enough to have grandparents here on the earth, I encourage you to do the same.

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