Thank you for all your kind comments about the first
half of this story. I hope you enjoy the conclusion as much.
Now Grandma was a different story altogether. She was always even-tempered, quiet and loving. Except when you did something where you might get hurt. Then look out Nellie!
Grandma was old when she married, thirty-one, and by the time she had six children she was pretty wore out. So, when I knew her she was already having trouble getting around. We’d been told to stay out of the road, so one day when my brother thought she wasn’t looking, where do you think he went? You got it, into the road. Jimmy heard the screen door slap closed and by the time he looked up all he saw was Grandma’s big tennis shoe coming off the front porch. And she was loaded for bear, with the fly swatter. That thing really gets your attention when you’re wearing shorts and shirtless like he was. From that day on we knew our sweet Grandma meant what she said.
Grandma was a good Christian woman, her kids called her a saint because she “put up with Papa,” but she had two vices. Well, she thought of them as vices. She dipped snuff and read those romance magazines. They sat in a tall stack at the end of the sofa. Every afternoon, after her work was done and before it was time to cook supper, she’d sit and read awhile. It was her one escape from a hard life.
Grandma and Grandpa got too old to manage the farm and moved into a white frame house in town. Town being a small community of about 100 people several miles from the farm. The yard was grass and though there were no rose bushes, honeysuckle covered a trellis on the front porch.
As a teenager I loved to visit, and when Grandpa passed, I went as often as possible. She was lonely. Mama was grateful I liked to go because she couldn’t get out often. I’d take her car, and feeling free as a breeze, drive too fast on the two-lane highway.
We’d sit at her kitchen table and eat tomato and macaroni soup from pink Depression glass bowls — the ones so collectable today. Some days I’d stop at a burger joint just outside town and pick up a couple of hamburgers, her favorite meal. According to her, it was perfect — it had all the food groups, you could eat it with your hands and there were no dishes to wash. While we ate, she listened to my teenage woes, never condemning or scolding. And I learned things about her. I knew she loved roses but not that yellow was her favorite.
I cherish the richness of my childhood. Playing in that dirt with brothers, sisters and cousins we learned give and take, fairness and loyalty. Grandma’s simple life, her love and wisdom taught me compassion, unconditional love, and joy in what I have. Her life was an example of what it means to live the life of a Christian. She truly walked with Jesus.
Only remnants of Grandma’s shrubs and flowers remain at the farm, most died off from lack of water, a valuable commodity in the 1950’s due to the seven-year drought. No wonder she didn’t have grass. A new log home stands a short distance from where Grandma’s small house stood. Scraps of tin from the roof and chips of green asbestos siding are all that remain. Stand there for just a minute and memories will make you smile. Close your eyes, breathe in the scent of roses and listen to the sound of children’s laughter on the breeze as they ride stick horses and hunt doodlebugs in Grandma’s dirt yard.
Each time I look at a rose and its fragrance teases my nostrils, I think of Grandma Riley. Every memory I have is like the flower, beautiful, sweet and lingering. Though I loved Grandpa too, his memory congers up reminders of those goatheads, sharp and prickly.
Thanks for reading!