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.