Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Grandmother's house

Before getting started...this is just a pretty long therapeutic rambling of a recent trip down memory lane. Permission granted to skip over this entire post! :)

I have begun the daunting task of going through all of my 'junk'. I have things from my wedding. I have things from college. I have things from last year. I am just the kind of person who doesn't like to let things go. I like the idea of knowing that if I ever want to spend an afternoon sitting in the floor going down memory lane I will have boxes and boxes of memorabilia to choose from. can imagine how hard it has been to slowly go through and decide which pictures and papers from my life are no longer worthy of their spot in their box.

Last fall, my dad brought down the things that I had accumulated at my childhood home in Michigan. Jon was soooo overjoyed that we now had even MORE boxes to move from place to place!! Ha! Just kidding! Well, I knew we were about to move in a couple months, so I didn't get all those boxes opened just then.

This week I have. I started going through the piles and piles of pictures and notes. Cards from years ago. Souvenirs from trips. Prom dresses. Stuffed animals. So Much Stuff!
Naturally, I have begun to feel a little bit nostalgic. The three pictures in this post brought back a flood of memories for me.

As early as I can remember, our family vacations consisted of trips to Tennesse. That's because we lived in Michigan and we had to spend our summer trip coming to see my dad's family down south.

My dad grew up in Lake County, Tennesse. He grew up in a hard-working family in a down-home community. My Granddaddy was a farmer, and my Memmy kept their farmhouse, three kids, and helped on the farm. The suffered Mississippi River floods, illness, and a house fire-but remained a tight family. One year, my Granddaddy injured his back and could no longer farm. They made the decision to pack up the family and move to the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

Until they retired, my grandparents remained in Chicago and made their annual trek back to Lake County when we did--Memmy's mother, along with a myriad of aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers still dotted the countryside.

My Grandmother's house

We would stay at my Grandmother's house. Memmy's mother was getting on up there in years. She had been married and widowed, then married and widowed again. As a baby, then a little girl, I heard story after story of how things were 'back in the old days'. Stories about Aunt Erma, or Uncle Pete, or 'The day Maw fell asleep in the back seat and we ran over a skunk in the car. She sat straight up yelling and hollering getting madder and madder because everyone else was just laughing!'

A full week or two of just visiting family and sitting around talking. We never had anything to do or anywhere to go.

One summer when I was still a baby, I came down with a fever. It was so hot, and Grandmother's house only had a shower. Dad went and bought a new metal trash can--remember those? Anyways, they filled it up with water, and I played in it just like it was a swimming pool!

I have memories when I was older of walking down the gravel road to my Aunt and Uncle's house because they had air conditioning. My brother and I would pick up rocks and hold them like each one was a treasure. When we got to the house, we would show Aunt Gracie and she would act so excited that we had found the most beautiful rocks on the way. Several years later, I noted that the rocks were all the same--cheap brown gravel. My memories still see them as beautiful, though.

My Grandmother had an old, old shotgun hidden in her closet. It was my daddy's Granddaddy's gun. I guess Grandmother kept it around for self-defense, but am pretty sure that the only action it ever got was when my dad would come down and shoot it. My brother and I had to sit on the little stoop at the back porch while my dad walked up to the edge of the cotton field and shoot into nowhere. For all we knew, the bullets went all the way to the Mississippi River, 10 miles away.

As we got older, we were even allowed to come up to the field to shoot too. It was so exciting to shoot into the open, or at an old Coke can my dad would hang for us. My Michigan friends' jaws would drop when I would come home from summer break talking about how I had been shooting guns that summer!!

Dad would take us into the cotton fields out to the side of the house--they seemed to never end! He would tell us how as a boy he spent countless hours in the fields picking cotton. Then he would take one of the bols that was just starting to split open and show its white fluffy flower and show us what real cotton really looked like.

Grandmother had one of those 4 room houses with doors connecting each room. We would get in trouble as two bored kids who decided to have races round and round and round.

My brother and me with Grandmother, 1984

Grandmother's kitchen was a big, old, country kitchen. Whenever we were down, she would always want to eat PaSghetti. Even as an old woman, she still said it that way. I guess she didn't have many Italian friends down there to correct her! After eating, the family would all do the dishes together then sit around and talk for it seemed like hours. I wish I was old enough to have remembered all the stories they used to tell.

Some days, when there was nothing else to do, my dad would take us for a ride in the car. He would take us on all the "back roads" and show us all the fields and streams he played in as a child. He talked about how he and his brother would spend the whole day running around in the woods, never even thinking about seeing a snake, mind you, and come running home just in time for dinner. Sometimes, he would even take us to the levee, then to see the Mighty Mississippi River. He would tell us about how that river gave life to the region, but then as floodwaters came would also take life away.

The Mississippi River

Sure...I spent most of my childhood in Michigan. Most people who know me or hear where I am from consider me a Northerner or a Yankee. Some people even say I still carry a northern accent...or whatever... But I have been sure, and after seeing these pictures and remembering am certain, that I also did much of my growing up down south. I have a distinct fondness for the ways of the south, the grace of southern people and the beauty of the land God has blessed the south with.

I am grateful for memories, and a chance to go back to a time that was so simple, yet so full.


Corey & Alisha said...

I love this blog entry! You should print it and put it with those pictures in a safe place that your kiddo's can read one day when they are older.

Sunny said...

Thanks for sharing some of your memories from childhood. Life was so much more simple then. I know that those memories will be treasured for years to come. Lawson and Jordan will be so thrilled to hear you tell them stories of when you were a little girl.

Jamey said...

I love walks down memory lane.

Jason said...

Just letting you know I actually read the mammothly long post of yours!


I love walks down memory lane, too. Ben doesn't like to reminiss (sorry if that's spelled wrong) like I do. I guess it's a girl thing. I miss the simplicity of being a child without a care in the world. Thanks for sharing. :)