Granny is Mama’s mother. Mostly I’ll be talking about her, since Papa died before Sis was born, so I was still 7.
Papa was a giant!! I think he was 6’2. Which isn’t really giant by today’s standards, but it was by our family’s!! And especially of mine, as a 7 yo! He was really sickly, and wobbly. Seeing Granny up under his arm, holding him up, as she walked him from the bedroom to his recliner was a funny sight to see!! I was also always worried he’d start to sway, and snap her in half like a stick! Then she’s get his bowl of oatmeal. He wore overhauls, (overalls), and his white hair stuck straight up in a butch. His facial expression was always stern, but he didn’t talk mean. Granny took exquisitely gentle care of him, like he was a diamond. He was soaked in love at all times. Later when I found out the truth of how he’d abused her and all the boys all their marriage, I couldn’t understand how she was able to tend him so gently, with such great love. Mama explained that it was the transformative power of love from Jesus Christ, that lived in Granny. I aspire to be that kind of Christian. Love where in the natural, there should have been hate. Gentleness where naturally there should have been retribution. What a powerful picture of God’s love for us!!
When he died, of course, he was laid out in their bed, after Granny prepared him. Nosy me couldn’t help but going to peek, to see if he really was dead!! I found an opportunity when all the women were in the kitchen, all the men were outside. I eased the door open, standing in the doorway staring at him. He looked like he was peacefully sleeping. Wait!! Did his chest just move a bit?? I think it did!! I high tailed it outta there!!
Well, he musta really been dead, cuz they buried him. Hopefully I was wrong!!
What can I say about Granny?? She was the cutest thing you ever did see!! I think she was about 5’2, and maybe a hundred pounds. Very modest, all her dresses were mid thigh, CALF!! Oh my gosh!! I meant CALF!! (I didn’t see this till after I’d published it! Granny would roll over in her grave if she saw me write mid thigh dresses! ) and if you ever saw her elbows, it’d be over her dead body! lol She had those old fashioned round glasses, a beautiful braided crown on her head. She really looked like an angel, always smiling. She had a huge heart, and open arms. If you were at her house, you weren’t a stranger, even if she never laid eyes on you before in your life. And you sure wouldn’t leave till your tummy was full!! She’d have fed the whole world, if she could’ve figured out a way to get ’em to her house! ❤
Have you gotten the idea yet that I adored her?? So did everyone! After her horrendous wreck, and settlement when I was 21, she got a little Model A, or T, I can’t ever keep it straight. She was already known for wearing hats, now she tootled around in her little car, waving at everybody. Everyone in town knew Granny Chaney! We called her Go Go Granny!! She had those keys in her hand, ready to go at a moments’ notice!
Of course, that was only because she had gotten up at dawn, or before! I never knew exactly, cuz I wasn’t there to witness! First, she swept the house, the front, and back steps. Then she washed, and hung out, a load of laundry. Next, out behind the house, picking oranges for breakfast. Yes!! This is really true! I was there for the breakfast part! If you were in her bed, you were in her kitchen chair for breakfast. No lazy bones under her roof! So, fresh squoze, (family joke), orange juice, fried or scrambled eggs, according to your order, hot biscuits with butter, and/or jelly, maybe some bacon, if it was close to pay day, always the (yucky) grits. We ate like queens!
Here she is, with my cousin Ronnie, his wife Pat, and their daughter Kimmi, behind her house, in the mid 1990’s, I think. Can’t remember right now how old Kimmi is!
Looking at this picture reminded me how beautiful she is!!
When her kids were at home, they always had to do the dishes, and clean the kitchen. For some reason, we grands never had to. Maybe she thought we wouldn’t do it right, and she didn’t have the time or patience left to teach another generation?? I really don’t know. We offered, uh, I mean sometimes, sheepish grin, but she’d wave us off. No need to tell us twice! We scampered away like mice being chased by a knife!
11 was lunch, and you better not be late! She had it setting on the table, yep, said setting on purpose, and she didn’t have time for you to dilly dally, cuz after the dishes were done, well, she did allow time to eat, without rushing, but the laundry on the line waited, and had to be gotten in ‘fore the inevitable afternoon rain.
She sewed all her kids’, and my cousin’s clothes, and quilts. on a foot pump old Singer. She made me a quilt when I went to college. One of my deepest sorrows is that I’ve lost that quilt among all the thousands of moves since then. It was the my most treasured possession, along with Cry Baby, and I don’t understand how I let it be lost. To this day, I grieve for that crazy quilt, (The pattern was called crazy.), made with all the love in her huge heart. It was a tangible reminder of her love, wrapping me in her arms, hugging me tight every night. I’m crying, right now, just missing her, and it so bad.
She and Papa had 11 kids, and were share croppers. They didn’t own any land, just worked it for a share, at the end of harvest, a very little share.
Mama was the middle child, 5 above, 5 below. I always thought that made her very special! With only a few exceptions, due to 2 miscarriages, all the kids were born 2 years apart, almost like clockwork. That meant lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins to love, and be loved!
When Granny was 80, she’d go to the nursing home, to visit the “Old People!” That cracked me up!! What a blessing she was to them! I know she hugged, smiled, sang, and told them about Jesus, even tho I never went with her. Cuz that’s what she did every day, just like breathing.
My Aunt Pat, and cousin KaLeena, had lived with Granny ever since Aunt Pat’s second divorce, many years before. So, we all thought they had lived there forever!! KaLeena was so tiny, even at 11 years old, and/or Granny was just that strong!! that Granny would carry her to the table, in the winter cuz the floor was too cold! lol Gotta love those old wooden houses, with crawl spaces underneath!!
When Granny was no longer able to be by herself, when Aunt Pat was at work, no one wanted her to go to a nursing home. But no one wanted to take care of her at their house either. Mama was working full time, but since I was living with her, and wasn’t, we were volunteered/elected. (Later I learned the old Army trick- if you don’t want to do it, take a step back, cuz whoever doesn’t has “Volunteered” to do it!)
At this point, DD1 was already living with her daddy, so DD2 moved into my king size bed, and we cleared out her room for Granny, using all her own things to furnish the room. Poor Granny, even tho she had Alzheimer’s, she still knew it wasn’t her home, somehow. At night she’d hobble, in her walker, to Mama’s door warbling, “Pat! Pat! Let me in! I know you’re sick!” I’d have to get up, physically pick her up, turn her around, and get her back in bed; all the while assuring her it was June, and she wasn’t sick. She was just sleeping, resting up for work in the morning. Poor sweetie didn’t believe me, so the scenario was repeated several times a night. Good thing I was still strong at that point!
After 2 months I couldn’t take the stress anymore. Still no one wanted her in a nursing home, but still they didn’t want her in their home either, so sadly, she went into a nursing home, which was her greatest fear. I hated it like crazy, and several Aunts and Uncles were bitter at me. But I already had the mental issues of bipolar, and anxiety. And if they didn’t want to keep her, I felt like they no right to complain. Mama and I tried our best. And it also was affecting DD2 negatively.
So the darling lived out her life in the nursing home, almost 7 years, I believe.
Her last night on earth, I was at the Strawberry Festival, and looked over, spotted Mama’s car in the nursing home parking lot. I thought that’s weird, she doesn’t usually stay that late, I better go check. When I got to the room, Mama said, “She is just getting closer to going home, but not yet.”
I decided to stay, since DD2 wasn’t at home. All night, Mama and I sang hymns, and took turns reading the Psalms out loud. When we were singing, it was so precious. That dear old saint would try to sing with us! She’d been non verbal for months!! Her spirit was so strong within her, she was determined to praise the Lord!! It gave me chills, to know even when you’re dying, God will give you enough strength to praise His name!
Sometime after midnight, she took a turn for the worst, and the nurse said call whoever needs to be here. So we called Aunt Pat. It didn’t take her long to arrive. The sisters sat on each side of Granny, holding her hands, kissing her, telling her, “I love you, Mama.”
But she couldn’t go. Finally I figured it out. Granny had made a vow to God, when Aunt Pat got run over as a 2 yr old, cracked her skull, and was dying. Granny promised God if He saved Pat’s life, she’d serve Him, making sure her kids would serve Him all her life, taking care of Pat, whatever it took for the rest of her life. That vow was still in effect, holding her to earth.
Gently I said, “Aunt Pat, she’s still worried about you. Please tell her you’re ok, you’ll be fine, and she can go now.” Aunt Pat didn’t understand, but after a few quick sentences, telling her I’d explain later, she said it anyway.
We started praying the Lord’s Prayer, and with a huge sigh, that sounded like relief to me, my Granny was gone.
She wasn’t the first person I’d ever seen die, but she was the first loved one.
We were all devastated that she was gone. But I felt a certain mingle of satisfaction for her. She wasn’t clutched into a fetal ball, unable to move, or talk, anymore! She was walking on the streets of gold greeting Jesus!! She was hugging Him!! And singing His praises!! Able to do anything she wanted again! Young and strong! Greeting her Mama, an angel in her own right, both her babies she’d lost in miscarriage, Papa, and everyone who’d gone on before!!
I was sad, and crying, for myself!! Selfishly missing who she used to be, but not wanting to call her back for all the tea in China!! She was where she longed to be, and I was thrilled for her that she was there, no longer suffering here on earth.
I know if you’ve ever had a relative who was suffering so badly pass on, that you understand what I mean. ❤
This post is super long, but my Granny was so exceptional, it took a lot to do her justice!
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