Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mama Y. and Granny

Someone once told me that as long as you have a grandmother, you have someone praying for you...

I miss my grandmothers. My dad's mother, Granny Clara, passed away in January 2001. My mother's mom, Mama Y., has been in a nursing home for the past 4 1/2 years.

Granny was your typical short little Southern grandmother. She often wore smock/apron-like blouses that seemed persistently covered in flour. Granny was tough - red hair and all (she liked it that color). Growing old gracefully wasn't her style - she was a worker. The mother to six children, she was constantly taking care of everyone, or at least trying to. When I spent a week or two each summer in her little trailer in the Georgia mountains, she and her sisters and I would "go to town" once a week to get groceries. (Two of her sisters lived in trailers nearby - one across the street and one down and around a bend in the dirt road.) Granny lived simply, but loved Avon. Granny gave Christmas presents to everyone even when she barely had money to buy things for herself - and when I say everyone, I mean all of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, spouses, and other relatives. I miss my Granny. I miss walking up to her front porch and having her soft little body enveloping mine. What I would give for a biscuit, a smile and a hug.

And my Mama Y. Where to begin... She never told me, but I honestly believe I was her favorite grandchild. I am the youngest of her three grandchildren and the only child of her only daughter. My Mama and Papa Y. would take me camping with them in the summers. I remember many mornings being awakened by my daddy so that he, Papa Y and I could go fishing. Papa Y. had a stroke when I was 14 or 15 and could no longer work. Mama Y. had never handled the bills, the money, the checkbook. All of a sudden, she had to - and it scared her. Ten years later, another stroke killed my Papa. But Mama Y. still made food for Christmas dinner a month later. She always made red velvet cake for Christmas dinner. She also made me chicken dumplings without the chicken from the time I can remember until the last time she made a big meal for the family. During the summers I would spend with my grandparents, Mama Y. would show me old pictures and tell me who all the people were - but I didn't know and couldn't remember most of them. I would help her in her garden - shucking corn, stringing beans. And I watched her can, freeze, and cook more food than I could consume in a lifetime. I remember the last time I saw my Mama Y. as the Mama Y. I knew as a child... it was a week before she had the stroke which landed her in the nursing home permanently. I gave her a hug and a kiss, loaded myself, my husband, and our then only child into the car and drove away. I did the same thing I'd always done while leaving her house... I turned back to watch her go inside. And that was it... That was the last time I saw her standing, smiling, truly living.

Mama Y. doesn't know who anyone is any longer. I visit occasionally - not nearly as much as I should, I know, but it's so hard. When I go, I never stay more than 5 minutes and I cry for hours afterward. I wish she didn't have to linger, to suffer - but that's God's call, not mine. So much has happened since she went into the nursing home. People she knew and loved have passed away - and some of those deaths would be devastating to her if she knew. There have been divorces. There have been births. In addition to the five she knew of, she has two more great-grandchildren. I hope I always remember that last image I had of her - turning to go into her house as I drove away.

My oldest daughter is named after my grandmothers. We also call her a nickname which combines their names. I wish my children could have known my grandparents. Mama Y would have loved all of them, as would have Granny - even though I know my Granny had an extra-soft spot in her heart for little boys and my little boy would have fit right in.

Our hallway is lined with pictures going back 5 generations on both sides of our family. Sometimes, we stop and stare at the pictures. Sometimes Richard or I will tell the children about a particular person in a picture. I suppose it's the best we can do - share memories if we can't share the person.

So, every night before the children go to bed, we have a litany of people we pray for - the names roll off our tongues like words to a familiar song. Thirty names every night. In our household, it's not only grandmas who pray for someone. I just wish I still had my grandmothers praying for me.


Sherri said...

This is an amazing, beautiful post! I wish that both of your grandmothers could read it.
I miss both of my grandmothers, but mostly my Dad's mother. I would take too much space to tell you why I miss her and I still wouldn't do it justice. There are so many times that I want her to be a part of something in our lives and am sad that she can't. I'm so happy that one of my children's sets of grandparents live right next door to us. Like you, I just feel better knowing that she is praying for us!

kathie said...

A wonderful tribut from a beautiful woman. Your Mama Y would be delighted to know how fond you are and I know she is always in your prayers and mine.

kathie said...

Kathie said

What a wonderful tribute from a beautiful granddaughter.