I received a text from a dear friend on Tuesday afternoon telling me that her beloved grandmother had passed away. Immediately, I started reminiscing about my own grandparents.
During her lifetime, my friend was very fortunate to know four grandparents. I was beyond fortunate to know five during mine.
I had a maw maw and a paw paw; a grandmamma and a granddaddy; and one more (great) maw maw. The first one didn’t die until I was 12 years old, so I have wonderful memories of each of them. I was truly blessed.
I have nothing but loving memories of my grandparents. As the crow flies, all five lived within five miles of each other deep in the heart of Tallapoosa County in a community named Elder. All went to the same church. All sat in the same spot on the same pew each and every Sunday morning.
My maw maw, the great one, known as “Miss Ruby” by many, was my grandmama’s mother. She was the matriarch of my mom’s side of the family.
She lived by herself in an old log cabin until she died in her nineties. She raised my grandmother and four other children in the log cabin when it wasn’t quite so old.
They were good, simple, country, Christian folk.
One of my grandmama’s sisters was named Mary Alice. She was one of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I thought her name was “May Rallis” until I received a letter from “Aunt Mary Alice” while I was in basic training.
She had another sister named Irma, who was a smoker and had a raspy voice. I didn’t know her as well as the other siblings, and, as far as I know, was the last baby to ever be named “Irma.”
There were two sons. Both Ronnie and Archibald Curwood served admirably in the military. Ronnie is still living and I could write an entire book on the life of Curwood Jennings. He was indeed a man, a myth, and a legend.
We spent every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas there in that old log cabin with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.
(Maw Maw is in the red dress, Curwood is in the cowboy hat, and I have my hands on my hips for some reason.)
I always enjoyed watching one of the older cousins start a fire in the old rock-faced fireplace in the big room where maw maw quilted and many of us would eat.
We would sing “Joy to the World” for the blessing prior to our Christmas meal. In my family circle, that tradition is still carried on today. I hope it is in others, as well.
There was always enough food to feed an Army. The top of the deep freezer served as the dessert station with each dessert looking like the front cover of a Southern Living magazine.
After devouring that meal, I’d always find myself disposing of my Styrofoam plate in that raging fire, which was probably not the best for the environment but was still pretty cool to a kid.
I’ll never forget maw maw ‘s candy jar. It was filled with all different types of hard candy. I remember reaching in for one piece but always picking up the whole jar because they were stuck to each other.
By day’s end, I’d be sitting atop the rather large magnolia tree with my brother or cousin next to the dusty drive talking about whatever it is brothers or cousins talk about at that age.
I was 19 years old when she passed away, so my memories with her and of her run deep. She was an amazing lady. She wasn’t perfect but was pretty dang close. I like to think of her as being perfectly imperfect.
I’d planned on writing about each grandparent today but I’ll have to do so in subsequent articles. I simply have too many memories to limit all the grandparents to a single article.
I truly believe memories are a gift from God, and I know they will help my friend and her family through this time of grief.
Memories can be powerful. They have the ability to help us get through the worst of times, yet should also keep us humble during the best of times. How you use them is up to you.
Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer, and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com