Sunday, May 14, 2017

Remembering Grandma on Mother's Day

Grandma Middleton almost wasn't my grandma. The story she told me was that she was born a twin. She was named Dena while her sister's name was Gina. Gina died at birth and as grandma's daddy was going to town to bury the tiny baby, he was told to hurry back as the other one would die before he returned. He intended to buy a goat to milk for grandma but while in town someone told him to feed her Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. He did and grandma survived to marry and bear nine children.

My grandparent's first child was born in 1926. She was my Aunt Inez. Grandma said when they were staying in Tulsa, she was so afraid someone would steal her baby, she pinned Inez's nightgown to her own. My daddy was the second born child.


Grandma, Daddy, and Aunt Inez

Grandma raised her younger children during the Great Depression. Daddy said they never had much but they never felt poor. Grandpa worked hard, grandma grew what they ate, and they made do with what they had. Grandma did get a job at a canning factory in town but when she came home to see all her babies lined up along the fence line awaiting her return, she did not go back. 

The last of Grandma's children was born two years before her first grandchild. I would like to think her first grandchild was her favorite but grandma never played that game. Since grandma started taking me to church when I was three weeks old, most of my early memories are tied to those services. Memories like Sunday School stories of David tending his flock and Noah building his ark depicted on flannel backed paper cutouts stuck to a fabric covered easel. I have a vivid memory of sitting beside grandma during song service as she patted my hand against hers in rhythm to "I'll Fly Away"I remember Sunday School songs like "Jesus Loves Me" - this I know for the Bible tells me so. And "Jesus Loves The Little Children" - they are precious in his sight. I learned that "Jesus Loves Me" meant Jesus loves ME and that while I am weak, He is strong. I was taught that "Jesus Loves the Little Children" meant He loves ALL the children - not just the ones that look like me. These sermons in melody impart lessons that last a lifetime.

Since they still had five children at home when I was born, my grandparents did not often buy the grandchildren presents. We found gifts from grandma in everyday lessons and experiences. I learned that grandma was always there, calmly listening, never judging, ever wise. She taught by example without raising her voice.

We did not come from a wealthy or even a well to do family but grandma taught us to be thankful for what we did have. Nightly prayers and mealtime grace taught us to appreciate simple things like a safe home and food to eat. We understood compassion from the stories of grandma and great grandma feeding the railway hobos who showed up hungry on their front porch. We saw generosity in grandma's family filled Sunday dinners that also included many members of the church congregation. Over the years, countless weary families would knock on grandma's door requesting assistance to get closer to their destination. Did they sometimes take advantage of grandma and grandpa? Perhaps, but not one time were they turned away without a bit of money or a bite of food.

I learned honesty and integrity from grandma. I was blessed to never hear curse words pass her lips. If she gossiped, it was not around us children. I was honored to know that she and grandpa always spoke the truth. Grandpa said a man's word was his bond and that all men had value. I was given the knowledge that if I was scared, or sick, or about to have a baby my grandparents had the ear of God.

The most important lesson I learned was that if no one in the world loved me, my Grandma did.

































Monday, April 3, 2017

Family Treasures

After only seven short years, our new house no longer has the minimalist decor I swore it would always have. Although I fully intend to have garage sales this summer to clear out the clutter, some things I will always keep.

The saying is, "I wouldn't take a million dollars for it." That is how I feel about this small handmade table. I think my Mother's daddy made it. As I am now an orphan with only younger siblings, I have no way to authenticate this sweet table's history. But just in case, it is not for sale.


Although this pretty print in an original frame is not the same one Grandma had at the farm, it is still precious to me. I must have been seven or eight years old when Grandma gently explained the meaning of the picture. She said Jesus sent an angel to watch over the two children as they crossed the broken bridge. I think she wanted me to also notice how the older sister was helping her little brother in hopes I would be kinder to my own brother. Anyway, I am comforted to think of the angel's protection.


Now this little metal footstool was made by my Grandpa. My Mother's daddy was a large, rough around the edges man and a welder by trade. I thought he looked like John Wayne. Since he lived in Texas, we did not see him often. When I was growing up Texas was a lot farther away than it is now. Mama took me and my brother on a train there once. We drank a lot of water out of little cone-shaped paper cups. I have this stool and another taller one that I am saving for my kids.


I fell in love with these rubber squeaky dolls I found at a flea  market about fifteen years ago. Later someone told me my nine days younger cousin had a boy doll just like this one. He probably used it as a teether. My cousin's name was Jimmy but they say I called him Shimmy. He died when we were fifteen. 


Christmas at my Oklahoma City Grandma's house always included these mischievous-looking bookend elves. They were displayed on a shelf above her picture window. I loved to look at them but was never allowed to touch them. I leave them out year-round.


This was Mama's lamp. She kept a philodendron growing in the lamp base as well. Her plants looked better than mine. She is such a pretty little redbird. I am keeping her.


I have a houseful of other odds and ends that I intend to sell. They have more monetary value than any of the things I plan to keep but they are certainly less valuable.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

It is just me and The Man today. Portent of things to come, I guess. We are binge watching NCIS as I scroll through all of my Facebook friends' Christmas posts and photographs. I wonder why we did not take more pictures of our Christmas celebration?

The only picture I have of our food is this "thing" Laura found inside of a pepper she cut for her vegetable platter. Kinda' looks like a bull's head doesn't it?


More than once this year, I had to get Don to lift a heavy pan or pot from the oven or stove. I've become a weakling in my old age. I also let the potatoes boil dry and nearly scorched my pan twice. Now that is something not many can say they accomplished.

Dinner was ready to eat just as everyone arrived. We had plenty to eat without much waste. I wrestled an hour with that fatty ol' shank ham before I got the bone out to season my New Year's Eve black eyed peas.

Although I don't think any of us spent much on gifts, they were all given with careful thought and much love. My daughter in law has such a knack for choosing special items for each one of us and then wrapping them in such a pretty manner. My single-mother daughter sometimes struggles financially yet sacrifices so her children have the things that are important to today's kids. My widowed sister doesn't have a lot of extra money either but has a talent for handmade crafts. Just look at the lovely pillow slips she made for me.


They are made of polka dotted 100% cotton fabric with French seams and trimmed with a lovely aqua birds and flowers print. She said the birds remind her of her late husband. We still miss him coming to visit for Saturday coffee and a bit of bird watching from our back porch.

Christmas Day at our house this year was so relaxed and we laughed so much. I don't remember what we found so funny but bless his heart, some was at Blake's expense.


He is a handsome fourteen year old who we tease mercilessly about the young ladies. His response to why he doesn't hang out talking to the girls in the school hallway is that he only has so much time to get to his next class. It was funny yesterday but I guess you had to be there.

I waited too late to buy gift tags and although Greg usually passes gifts out on Christmas Day, I had to help this year. I got a wee bit confused and kept handing them out and grabbing them back before I figured out where they actually belonged.

In the midst of the action, Don went outside and brought in the black tulle skirted dress form I have had my eye on for years. I had bought a gold one a couple of months ago but every time I go in to Hobby Lobby, I look for the black one. I didn't even know Don had heard me say anything about it. Both Laura and Rachel deny giving him hints.


He said it was a little embarrassing carrying her out of Hobby Lobby and the kids said it looked funny laying in the back seat of his car. I don't know if it was covered up like a corpse or just out in the open for the world to see. I cried when I saw it. I will add her to our bedroom with my mermaid painting, shimmering vintage mermaid dress, and huge framed photograph of Rita Hayworth.

Granny June was able to come down to eat but she is so frail she needs assistance with everything. She eats very little, and doesn't even want the coffee she used to drink during every waking minute. She can't give and take like normal conversation requires and even asked to go "home".  I think she tends to sleep most of the day. Remembering the proud, independent, and beautiful woman she was, we did not take pictures of the shell she has become.

Elizabeth, Konstance, Blake, and Sierra played board games after dinner and gift giving. It was so pleasant listening to them laugh.


Frequent breaks were taken for little snacks. Sierra loved the seasoned crackers Laura made and I sent the last of the pinto beans home with her. The only reason I made a pumpkin pie this year is because Konstance loves it. I hope she isn't just eating them to be polite. I was told Grandpa was always given the chicken gizzard when they fried a chicken until he finally confessed he didn't really like gizzards.

Our soon to be EMT got to eat and open gifts but then had to dress for work in the ER. I heard her come in sometime after 3 AM. A twelve hour shift.



God bless the hospital and emergency personnel, police officers, firefighters, and and our military men and women who serve regardless of the day or holiday.

And God's blessings on all of my friends I rarely see but love to hear from.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Holiday Memories Part I

This time of year I start remembering Christmas holidays from when I was a kid. Things like the smell of a new vinyl doll on Christmas morning. One of my favorite Christmas memories is of the year my Grandma bought me twin boy and girl dolls for Christmas. They didn't have lifelike hair but they came complete with full wardrobes that she had made. It snowed that Christmas and I dressed and undressed those dolls all day long. I remember not wanting my two year old brother to play with them.

That was the year Daddy was working in Oklahoma and I went to first grade for part of the winter. That was also the year I told my teacher Daddy didn't have money to buy me a new coat. Someone at the school bought me a beautiful red one. Mama and Daddy took it back and told them they had just been waiting to go to the city to buy me one. I have no recollection of the one they bought but still remember that pretty red coat. I remember Daddy telling me to step in his tracks through the deep snow from the house to the car. I wonder why he didn't just pick me up and carry me. I was pretty tiny in the first grade.

A few years later, my brother got a Huckleberry Hound doll for Christmas. I remember he was turquoise blue, had a yellow hat, and looked just like the one in the cartoons. Of course, when we were watching Huckleberry Hound on television back then, he was just black and white. I thought it was cute but David really loved him. While teasing him one night, I threw Huckleberry's hat right out the car window onto Main Street. I regret being such a brat. I apologized a few years ago.

1954

I remember Mama promising they would take us window shopping when Daddy got off work. I remember the multi-colored lights crisscrossing Spadra Bridge and the brightly decorated storefronts. Even on the coldest nights, we would tumble out of the car to stand closer to the windows. My brother liked the dump trucks while I loved looking at the baby dolls.

I don't remember actually getting anything that was in the window though. Unless it was that doll carriage I got right before my sister was born in January. I remember my Uncle Paul and Aunt Louise coming by to proudly show off their newborn baby girl shortly after Christmas. I remember the baby smelled pretty. Mamas baby powdered their babies really well back then. I begged them to spend the night and let Paula Kay sleep in my new doll carriage. I told them she would fit perfectly but I guess they didn't believe me.

Speaking of Paula Kay...my mother and two of my aunts were expecting Christmas babies about the same time. (The Middleton cousins seemed to come in little clusters) Mama had planned to name our baby Paul Dean if he was a boy and Paula Dean if she was a girl. Both names would be after Daddy's brother Daniel Paul and Mama's brother Morrice Dean. Mama and Daddy loved those two boys. However, both aunts delivered first and named their daughters Sheral Dean and Paula Kay. When my sister came along Mama named her after the two grandmothers.

It is late and that is enough reminiscing for now. I'll tell about the Christmas trips to Oklahoma City next time.





Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Living Legend No. 844

Last month we had a steam locomotive watch party in our back yard when Union Pacific's 'Living Legend' No. 844 made its trek from Tennessee back to Wyoming. While it did not stop behind our house, the engineer did blow the whistle long and loud.




My cousin Rob took this fabulous photograph as the steam engine rounded the curve by our house. We had a perfect view and an even more perfect get together with about twenty of our friends and family awaiting the train's arrival.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Touching Base

After becoming quite disillusioned with Facebook, I am returning to blogging. I am looking forward to reading and writing about quiet everyday matters. I plan to resume dropping in on my favorite blogs to see how you all are doing.

My life is still hectic as I am working full time. I have worked the last 14 years with the state of Arkansas in the In Home Services nursing program. On August 1, 2016 we were bought out by a large home health agency. It was a traumatic event. I am sure I will rant about this later.


For now, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving Day. Our children and grandchildren have scattered and we will be having a quiet Thanksgiving Day with just my mother in law with us. She has developed Alzheimer's since my last post. A cruel and heartbreaking disease. We will talk about this later as well.

It is late and I need to go to bed so I can go to work tomorrow.

Good Night All.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

It Is My Birthday

Well, today is my birthday. Actually it is a birthday milestone of sorts as I can now draw my "rocking chair" money. If I didn't want to eat or pay bills.

I've told you stories of my early years, haven't I?

About how my hospital bill was only $25.00?



And how I was named after Rita Hayworth?



Did I ever tell you that back in the early 1950's the new mothers were encouraged to stay in bed for ten days? That meant Mama and Daddy stayed with Grandma and Grandpa for ten days after I was born. My cousin was born nine days after I was. Just as Mama and Daddy were leaving Grandma's, my Aunt was beginning her ten day confinement there.

Did I ever tell you that my youngest Uncle is only two years older than I am? (He is the "three words the whole way to Oklahoma City Uncle). Mama said he thought I was his baby and would have crossed Main Street to bring me back to Grandma's if a neighbor had not called to ask her if she was missing one of her kids.

Mama said I would have starved if Grandma had not fed me milk gravy off the table. I still love gravy but I do not like the Pet milk formula they put me on.

There is a picture of me as a tiny baby with Mama and Daddy in front of Aunt Maggie's little house. It is the only picture I remember seeing of the two of them together. I wish I knew where it is.



My cousin Jimmy and I had our pictures taken together downtown at Collier's Studio. They said I called him Shimmy. They said he didn't like it. My first taste of heartbreak was when Jimmy died at fifteen.

I have a tiny scar on my middle finger from where it got caught in a fold-up baby carriage. Mama said Daddy threw it out in the yard.

I do not remember my Daddy ever raising his voice with me. He was an intelligent yet quiet man with a quick wit.



Mama was a city girl who moved to a small town in Arkansas and grew to love Daddy's people.



I don't remember my brother as a baby but I do remember when my sister was born. I thought Mama was too old to be having babies. She was 25.




All those nights Grandpa called my name in prayer have paid off. I have had a very blessed life.