She was born at home, lived in the same house for her entire life. It was the same house in which my mother grew up and the one in which I would visit her until she passed away at the age of 72. It was a shot gun house when first built but changed form as the years went by and they added extra rooms with their own bare hands. Not a one of them was a carpenter by trade so the house wasn’t up to the highest of standards but it had an only slightly leaky roof and the boards only creaked when you walked across them. It was up on brick pillars in the front because the land wasn’t flat enough to rest it completely on the ground. It was a shack really but always full of love and laughter.
I remember that the hunting dogs they owned would come out from under the house baying loudly at anyone that drove up in the yard. It was also under those steps of the front porch that we were allowed to play in the summer because the dirt was cool and the shade was a welcome respite from the oppressive summer heat. In the wintertime, the cold would settle beneath that space under the house and the floors would be ice cold.. socks and shoes were a must. The rest of the house wasn’t too warm either because she only had a wood stove in the living room and used the stove to heat the kitchen when she needed to cook. Yet winter was my favorite time to visit with her to spend the night. We would make hot chocolate with big marshmallows and watch her 13″ black and white television. I would sit beside her in that old brown plaid recliner she had directly in front of the wood stove because even just across the room on the sofa, it was too cold to be sitting by yourself.
She kept her bedroom door closed off because the house was old, not really insulated and quite drafty from the winds beneath the house. That meant that when you walked in her bedroom, you could see your breath it was so cold. She had so many quilts on her bed that once you got climbed in the bed and under the covers, you couldn’t move, the weight was so heavy on you. It never fails though.. somehow during the night, I would manage to find her under the covers and use her soft, flabby belly as a pillow. To me, it represented warmth, softness and the very persona of her love. She also had a crack in her wall near the ceiling and you could see daylight peeking through as you laid in the bed before getting up the next morning. As I said.. she was poor by the poor’s standards but it didn’t matter. Love don’t cost a thing to give or receive and it is more valuable than some of the palatial homes that I can drive by in the town by where I live now.