Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Grand Legacy

On February 28th, our family lost a crown jewel when Granny Jean passed away.  I don't know many people that get to live to 39 and still have grandparents here on Earth, for that I count myself blessed.  Granny Jean was a walking, talking, living personification of southern hospitality.

My greatest memories of her from my youth will always be centered around her kitchen table.  It seemed that we spent more time in that kitchen, getting ready for a meal, eating a meal, talking after a meal, cleaning up from a meal, or perhaps working on a giant jigsaw puzzle on that kitchen table.  Granny was one of those amazing cooks who had recipes that called for a pinch of this, a pat of that, a couple of shakes of something and a dash of love.  When we were all a lot younger, she kept a wonderful garden and put up purple hull peas and cream corn, among others, but those were my favorites.  Her signature dishes included chicken and dressing and the largest, most amazing and decadent carrot cake the world will ever know.  Now, my mom has been making Granny's chicken and dressing recipe for many years, and it met Granny's approval, but I don't think it can ever be the same.  At the funeral home visitation, my cousin Carmel mentioned that she had Granny's prized carrot cake recipe, and no offense to Carmel, but I bet she would agree that it won't ever taste the same as Granny's.

It's been many years since Granny Jean was well enough to hold court in her kitchen, but I can still see her there, and smell the delicious aroma of her hospitality.  There isn't an earthly possession that I wouldn't give for another chicken fried steak, or some of that cream corn, and a thick slice of that cake. 

Granny also loved Jesus and was a faithful part of her church family for many years.  She will be buried at the little country church that she attended for many years, Dean Baptist.  I can remember going to church there with her several times.  I am pretty sure that when my twin sister and I attended Sunday School there, that we doubled the regular attendance! She loved that church, and was the kind and generous neighbor we all would want.

Granny was vivacious and taught me to love life and to live it to the fullest.  At 80 years old, already a widow, she remarried.  She had more love to give and she wasn't going to waste away the last years of her life.  She got married at 8 o'clock on a Friday night!  I remember that we didn't get much notice of the wedding date, and I don't remember what it was that we had going on, but we didn't get to go the wedding.  Shortly after, I took Brenda to meet Granny Jean and Derwood, her new husband.  I gave her a hard time about her choice of wedding days and times.  I asked her why the shotgun wedding on such short notice, and asked her if they were pregnant?!

When her mind started to slip, it was no easy task to convince her to give up her car, and to move into an assisted living center.  I will remember her for being fiercely independent, and classy to the end.  She loved her beauty shop appointments and her shopping trip to Macy's, and the Dallas Cowboys.  She was always tastefully elegant and graceful in a "bless your heart" southern charm sort of way.  She wasn't perfect, and she could certainly be a little ornery.  Let's just say that you would always know where she stood.

The last few years have been hard to watch as she has slowly slipped away from that independent, elegant woman.  I am thankful for the many, many years of memories that I have stored away in my mind's bank.  It also helps me to be thankful that she is now fully glorified, and it comforts me to know that she loves Jesus and that we will see each other again one day. 

I am not sure what is about our family, but we seem to put a twist on just about everything.  We gathered on Sunday afternoon to remember her during the visitation at the funeral home.  In the short hour and a half or so that we were there, Tyler got thoroughly covered in sleet and ice.  My sister lost power, and so did Dean Baptist Church.  The weather and the power outage caused the funeral to be cancelled, a first for me.  Most of us had to make our way back home, and we missed the funeral service yesterday.  What an odd way to say goodbye, but then again, maybe that was the point.  She probably wouldn't have wanted all of us to make a big fuss, anyway.  I am thankful for the chance to have dinner with my family, however impromptu as it may have been.  And certainly, we will never forget when Granny passed away.  I love you, Granny Jean.