Thursday, December 13, 2012

Down yander

My grandmother was born and raised in Mississippi. And it showed. The way she spoke and the funny words and sayings she had. I used to wonder what language she was speaking when I was a child. She called a toilet a commode, she called margarine Oleo, and she'd ask me to go "fetch my glasses from down yander". "Down yander" always meant down the super long (at least it felt that way as a kid) hallway lined with family photos, to either her bedroom or the sewing room.
That sewing room was one of my favorite places as a kid. It smelled like her perfume, fresh fabric from Hancocks, and the faint smell of my grandfather's cigarette smoke. Even after he died and the house had been painted, you could still smell it on a damp day. Its the only time I've ever enjoyed the smell of cigarette smoke.
The sewing room was where my grandmother taught me to sew. Its the reason that I aced Home Economics in 9th grade. I sewed many things in that room. And I wore even more things that were sewn in there. I learned about ric rac and corduroy and lace collars. (It was the 80s!!) We made hideous sequin sweatshirts and shirts with buttons glued all over them (that was the 90s!). We read, quietly together. She would have her stack of Harlequin romance novels, and I had my pile of Babysitters Club books. Her Diet Coke would sit in a can cozy on the bookshelf next to the orange velour chair. Sometimes she would have curlers in her hair while we read in the morning, before we headed out for a day of shopping.
The back wall of the sewing room was covered in family photos. They hung over the couch that pulled out into a bed. They were pictures of me and my two cousins and my uncle and his wife and my parents. Some were new, some were old. And I loved ever single one of them. Over the sewing machine was a large picture of my grandmother's mother as a little girl and a picture of her parents. They were old. And they were a little creepy.
If it was quiet - which it usually was if the hum of the sewing machine wasn't going - you could hear the traffic on Loop 820. I loved that sound, especially at night.
There were two windows, one faced the front of the house, the other faced the neighbor's chain link fence. When the mailman came around in the afternoon, the dog next door would bark and my grandmother would say "old Beauregard's barking, time for the mail".
She sold that house in Fort Worth in 2003 or 2004. I remember walking thru it trying to soak in everything about it. The wood paneling, the faint smell of smoke, the huge pine trees that made creepy shadows thru the windows at night. But it wasn't those things that made that house so special to me. It was her. Her southern accent, her smell, her sternness, her inability to meet a stranger, her cooking, the fact that there was always, always, always a supply Blue Bell ice cream and Diet Coke in the refrigerator in the garage.
Last Christmas she passed away. And I miss her so very very much. I miss that when it was time to go, I'd give her a hug, her voice would waver as she said "love you babe" and she would fight back the tears. She was much to strong to cry and she thought she hid her emotions, but I could feel them.
I love you too Grandmother Bug. I miss you.

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