Nov 062011
Some of my fondest memories as a child are of spending time with my grandmother. She lived such a simple, simple life.. she was poor, even by the poor’s standards. She didn’t even having indoor plumbing until she was in her fifties but I thought going to her house was exciting because she was always happy in her heart and she shared her love generously.

Mammaw -- As A Baby

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.

After dinner, she would boil water (that came from the water well outside.. complete with an old piece of welded stovepipe to bring it to the surface) on the stove and pour it into a number 2 washtub and mix it with cold water for me to take a bath in. The tub was in the kitchen because then she didn’t have to walk so far with the boiling water. She would let me play in that tub until the water was cold and my teeth were chattering and then she would wrap me in a towel and tote me to nearby the stove to warm me as she dried me off. I didn’t care that my teeth were chattering, we would laugh about it as we struggled to put on my flannel pajamas. Then she would turn off the heat from the stove and we would go to bed.

My Grandmother and Her Brothers

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.

Our lifestyle today is a lot different from what my grandmother lived but I can’t help but feel as though she wouldn’t have enjoyed how we live.  I’m certain that she would have enjoyed the creature comforts in her older years so she wouldn’t have to work so hard but the fast pace, the never having time to sit down and truly enjoy a nice big mug of hot chocolate (right down to the marshmallows) would have likely made her uneasy.  I hope that in her afterlife, she is enjoying that mug of hot chocolate, still finding laughter in the smallest of things, a pile of quilts on her bed to keep her warm and the peek of sunshine streaming through the crack near the ceiling in the mornings to greet her.

As I Remember Her Most

  5 Responses to “I Called Her Mammaw”

  1. That sounds so much like my great grandmother’s home. You sure brought back a lot of good childhood memories. 🙂

  2. This reminds me of my grandmother’s home in Pageland, SC.

  3. I love this.. I really love this.

  4. This is an exceptional precious piece of writing– thank you for creating such a complete and colorful picture, of a special woman and how she lived. you should be sending this to Southern living….

    • Sally.. I am so glad you enjoyed reading it. I remember my Mammaw as a colorful person and I can almost see her house in my mind’s eye. I gave you a glimpse of it as I remember it. Thank you for commenting as well as sharing it with others. I am honored that you think it was good enough to publish but I would be terrified to try! LOL