I’ve thought of my sweet Grandma a lot lately. This was partially written a few years back. I’d forgotten about writing the memory, so I pulled up the file and found it.
There’s so much more I could write, but this short piece will suffice for now. I hope you enjoy Grandma’s Apron. If you’re blessed to still have your grandmother, show her some love.
The scent of steaming cornbread baking, prepared from freshly ground cornmeal, pulls me toward the kitchen. With a smile, I make my way down the hall and follow the aroma.
Grandma beams, then gathers me into a gentle hug. She points toward the sink for me to wash my hands. She seats me at the table, then returns with a cold glass of milk. A generous slice of cornbread sits before me. Grandma slices it open and spreads home-churned butter between the layers.
I reach for a spoon to collect a serving of honey, along with the honeycomb. My mouth waters at the first taste of sweet buttermilk crumbs that melt on mytongue. Delectable.
Undeniably Grandma Mabel’s baking, and cooking, is by far the most excellent.
Later on the back porch steps, after finishing off a sweet potato, I lick sticky fingers. Despite my mother’s persistent protests, Grandma grins, then hands me an entire bag of brown sugar.
Grandma fans herself with the tail of her apron, swipes at the sweat on her forehead. She eases her weary bones down beside me on the stoop of an rambling, old white, home-place in Murphy, North Carolina.
She wraps me in a sweet hug and sings AMAZING GRACE. I, of course, think that’s where a little piece of Heaven exists. Tightly snuggled in her loving arms and Jesus loving spirit.
She flips the underside tip of her apron again, and wipes beads of moisture from her forehead. Both her hands grasp the other end, then flaps the apron like a big fan to cool the both of us.
Grandma’s arms fold around me again in a Teddy bear hug while she smiles and kisses me soundly. Her soft, graying hair is swept back in a knot, while escaped damp tendrils curl around her sweet-scented neck. She smells so delicious, like Ivory soap, cookie dough and strong coffee all at the same time.
I never want to leave her warm embrace.
We are uprooted from our moment when the roar of hearty laughter compels us to focus on the activity near the barn. We remember Grandpa is out back with the other men cleaning out chicken houses.
Grandma flips an end of her apron and wipes brown sugar from my chin. “Come a couple of months, we’ll be busy, Child,” she says, then nods toward the men. “Once the weather gets cold enough, hog killing day won’t be far into the future.”
Yeah, like she wasn’t busy every single minute of her life?
We watch as Grandpa walks to the edge of the garden, then slings a deceased, long black snake over the fence. I ask him why he does this, but I don’t recall his answer. Now, I’ve heard some did it because they believed it would bring rain. All I remembered was a long, black snake too close for comfort and Grandma telling him to stop scaring the kids. Then, she’d gather John and me in the folds of that homemade apron we rarely saw her without.
My brother, John, and I are ushered inside the barn to shuck corn to help fill the bins. We had no idea it was actually work. Grandpa always made sure we enjoyed any chore he set us to do. I remember his throaty laughter and the forever twinkle in his eyes.
At a long dinner table, every space is filled with fresh vegetables from the garden and meat they’d raised. I stare at the feast. Fried chicken, potatoes, corn, okra, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, biscuits, corn bread and the list goes on. Never had I seen so much food at one time, but the men worked hard from sunrise until sundown and required nourishment. There was always some chore waiting to complete on a farm.
After dinner we gather on the front of a wrap-a-round porch and listen to Bible readings, and then sing hymns. It was family time. A time for love and laughter and harmony. A time for tired bones and achy joints to rest.
That is until sunrise the next morning and the work would start all over again. Grandma and Grandpa were hard workers and their family always came first. Early mornings the house was toasty with the smell of coffee, of sausage frying or bacon or ham, or a combination, hot biscuits and gravy, fried potatoes, and fried apples stirred the household to greet the day.
There was always prayer before meals and before going to bed. I can’t remember a time there wasn’t prayer at any time it was needed, or if Grandma simply wanted to pray. Grandma even prayed, talked to God, or sang while she cooked or did housework.
Our fingers are tender from shucking corn, and Grandma rubs funny smelling liniment on them before we go to bed. Her beds are made with feather blankets and we snuggle together to stay warm while Grandma tells us a story.
Grandma then prays us to sleep.
I hope you enjoyed the memory.
Of all the stories my mother used to tell me, I think this is the most memorable. Grandma and Grandpa would walk several miles from North Carolina into Tennessee, to deliver fresh vegetables, meat and fully cooked food to a family who had little or none. Whatever Grandma and Grandpa had, they shared. And if a family needed nursing, the two of them were one of the first to make sure the family was taken care of properly.
In the fifties, windows were left open and rarely did anyone even think to lock their doors at night. Because of trust in small communities, there was no need.
Grandma Mabel, was the glue that held her family together. A good woman, a priceless mother and dedicated wife. A woman who made a difference in her home as well as in her church and community.
Life revolved around family and God.
Her husband and children called her blessed.
These are a few of my memories.
I hope all of you have special memories of your grandparents. Share with us if you’d like.
Until next time…I wish you Music, Butterflies and most of all…I wish you Love.