Saturday, June 17, 2006

we love you, mama hilda

**this is the eulogy that we grandchildren and great-granchildren created while rocking on the front porch of the funeral home the other night, with loosened ties and bare feet. and my aunt pam put all our memories together and read this at the funeral.**

Where Grandmother Is

Heaven probably looks a lot like Midway to Grandmother. She spent her entire life on one dirt road and wouldn’t have had it any other way. She loved this community and every grain of sand and blade of grass that makes it up. Where Grandmother is, however, no chinaberry tree would DARE to drop a chinaberry on the ground, and a magnolia would NEVER shed its leaves. Chinaberries and magnolia leaves were Grandmother’s sworn enemies and she would attack them with vigor. She’s been known to rake the yard for HOURS, due to those chinaberries and magnolia leaves. The next morning, the trees would have again deposited their gifts on the ground, and Grandmother would wage battle again.

Where Grandmother is, there is ALWAYS enough food to feed a crowd. At every gathering, whether it be at her house or the church, the tables would fairly groan under the weight of all the food---and Grandmother could be counted on to say, “I hope we have enough.” She always worried that the appetites would outdo the amount of food, but of course there was always enough and, in fact, too much.

Food was central to Grandmother’s life. If you ask anyone about Grandmother, they will probably comment on her skill in the kitchen. Her memory is inextricably tied to her unparalleled talent. Who could forget Grandmother’s fried chicken, biscuits, fresh vegetables straight from her garden, sweet potato soufflĂ©, tea cakes, coconut cake, 6-layer chocolate cake----the list is fairly endless. The grandchildren will always remember Grandmother scooping ice cream into the blender in order to make her famous homemade milkshakes. Where Grandmother is, she will have plenty of time to putter around in the kitchen. I like to think of her making Granddaddy a meal in heaven. He’s been waiting 8 years for some of her cooking.

Where Grandmother is, there is always ice cream in the freezer. When my siblings and I were small we would get off the school bus, throw our books down, crawl up under the barbed-wire fence, run across the field and burst into Grandmother’s back door. She would greet us with these words: “What ya’ll hunting for---something to eat?” And of course we were. Grandmother always kept Neapolitan ice cream in the freezer for us.

Where Grandmother is, no one will ever throw away a plastic cup or plastic utensil. Every holiday, the extended family would gather for a feast, and we would bring paper products in order to cut down on the dishwashing. After the meal, we would always try to sneak the plastic cups into the trash bag without Grandmother seeing, but she always caught us. “I don’t mind washing these,” she’d say. “No need in throwing away a perfectly good cup”. And so we’d wash them and add to an ever-growing collection that we’ve kept over the years.

Where Grandmother is, a crop of sweet corn will always be bountiful, and her family will always gather around to help pick, shuck, and silk the corn. Of course, Grandmother will be the only one who will cut the corn off the cob. No matter how hard we tried, we could never cut the corn off just right. Grandmother was the expert and we all bowed to her expertise. We knew that we’d have the most wonderful tender sweet corn in the freezer. Grandmother was funny about her corn, though. She’d willingly give away all the peas and butter beans you could ask for, but she was a little less happy to part with the corn. “Let’s save the corn for something special”, she’d tell us. And come Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter, there would be a huge pot of corn on the stove.

Where Grandmother is, children will always behave and never have to be given her famous silent stare that could stop you in your tracks, or be told that “If you act ugly, I’ll crawl up under my bed and not come out.” It’s funny; I know that we all acted ugly at some point, but to my knowledge, Grandmother never did get up under that bed. If you really acted up, you just might be called a word that Grandmother may have made up---“tookey”---as in “Don’t act so tookey.” This was about as bad as you could get. Where Grandmother is, the children will always be called by their own given name the first time, as in “Pam come here”, rather than “Charl- lisa, Sheila----I MEAN PAM” Grandmother was famous for doing the roll call when she called us; she said it was because there was so many of us, but she loved us all. And I know that she did.

Where Grandmother is, Christmas morning will be a lot like it has been all her life---filled with family, excited children, a wonderful feast, a Christmas tree that Granddaddy cut himself, and a lot of love and laughter. Santa would always leave a stocking for the Grandchildren at Grandmother’s house, and Grandmother and Granddaddy would visit us early Christmas mornings to see what gifts we got and just to share in the excitement.

Where Grandmother is, no one will ever throw away a Lincoln Journal, an empty Cool Whip bowl, or a black plastic microwave dish. Everyone will rise early, work hard, and rest after lunch.

Where Grandmother is, she and Granddaddy have been reunited, and what a wonderful reunion it must be. I can just see Grandmother and Aunt Lottie smiling and talking and listening to Granddaddy and Uncle Waymon and Uncle Charlie “making music”.

They just don’t make them like my Grandmother anymore. She left a sterling example of a life well-lived and I am so proud to be her granddaughter.


lightfeather said...

I love your grandma too. You did a beautiful job on this.

My prayers and thoughts,

scribble said...

very beautiful camille.
thank you for sharig that with us.

yankeegirl said...

I'm sure she was very proud of you, too!
very sweet words.

Puffer said...

I love it
I think everyone has a grandmother in their life similar to this. My grandparents keep everything.
She lived her life well:)

Jen said...

lovely tribute.

Misty said...

This made me smile so much. First of all because it's beautiful. Second of all because it completely applies to my great grandmother who is also southern (from NC) and even said some of the same things written here. (Getting ugly included!!! lol) and the foods and rising early, but resting after lunch (A big lunch at that)..i will forever cherish that southern grandmother..and it sounds like yours is cherished greatly. A wonderful post.

franklie said...

My grandmother died a few days ago. Two grandaughters told stories at the funeral that made me laugh and cry. We called her "Sweet Grandma". She was, indeed, a sweet grandma, as was your great grandmother.

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful. I didn't have a grandma like this. Perhaps my mom's mom would have been (I don't know...she died when I was 5) but I KNOW I will be a grandma like this!

alan said...

Read this last night, and couldn't say anything worthy; still can't, really, other than how wonderful your remembrances of her are!