What is a Grandmother?

This may be a generalization, but I think there are many folks these days that do not have the pleasure of hanging out with their grandmaw.  I was one of the fortunate ones that got to spend 30 years of my life with my grandmother: MeMe Smith.  When reflecting back, however, the question that comes to mind is, “What is a Grandmother?”  Well, I am not sure where I could even start.  In the literal sense, a grandmother is the mother of a parent; so, essentially, we have two grandmothers.  That’s all fine and good, but that doesn’t necessarily get to the nitty-gritty of what a true grandmother is.  To be blunt, there really isn’t enough room on this webpage to describe for you what my grandmother was, because she was so much: mostly indescribable.  But I would like to share a few things that will help you, and myself, understand the meaning of a true grandmother.

MeMe Smith was a unique individual.  She grew up in a large family, living on family land, the cliche farm house, and the work that needed to be done around the farm: milking cows, churning butter, picking cotton, eating strawberries, wearing shoes that were two small, and … who else can say their grandmother was Homecoming Queen of Stanley High School!  She was smart.  She knew the ins-and-outs of everything: canning, gardening, cooking, and working in textiles to help support her family: husband, and twin sons.

You see, though, the work my grandmother did, the things she did for fun, the enjoyment she had to cook all of us white beans, cabbage, biscuits, cornbread, fatback … work never stopped her from enjoying life to the fullest.  She went on trips, visiting her cousin in Arizona several times, hopping the church bus for outings, and taking naps in the back seat of the 50s car while the twins and husband Ralph (PaPaw) watched a movie at the drive-in (without her knowing they were having popcorn, of course).

Meme baked a great cake, there was never a day you would drive in and see her permed, airy, and “poofed” white hair shining from the kitchen window, where she was whipping up something in her mixer.  But, it would never fail, she hated the cake, and you would find several out at the edge of the garden!  And then, here would come the fresh chocolate pound cake with chocolate icing sitting on the washing machine beside the kitchen table.  All of our mouths would be watering, as we waited for her to cut the first slice … and then send half of it home with us.

I used to get upset with MeMe when it was time to spend the night on Friday nights.  I wasn’t mad, just upset.  You see, my older brothers and my older cousins got to sleep in the den on the pallet made of homemade quilts from her childhood.  I, on the other hand, had to sleep with MeMe in the bed.  I always wanted to sleep in the den, I think it only happened once or twice that I actually did.  But here’s the thing that I can say, that they can’t: I got to learn from her as the dusk-to-dawn light shined through the window.  I got to learn her faith and devotion to God as she would teach me the readings from her Upper Room, Guidepost, and Our Daily Bread devotional books.  She would read one, then she would swap with me.  Then, I would pull up the fleece blanket, and she would turn out the light (as the others would still be whispering and giggling in the den) and we would fall fast to sleep.

There is so much more I could write about: sweet-sweet tea, red-eye gravy, fudge-cicles, mumbling “sshh–tt” underneath her breath when she messed up a cake, the perfectly curved hand that molded and folded the freshly made biscuits, the cast iron skillet that continues to hold the flavors of her life, the hugs, the kisses, and the hatred I have toward the most awful disease that kills people while they are still living, having absolutely no idea where they are, what has happened, and why it chose them (YES, I’m Calling You Out Alzheimers!).

But, the one thing I know I can surely write about that describes to-a-T a grandmother is this: love, undying love for children she didn’t birth, but children she hugged and cared for because they were pure joy, fun, spoiled, without hesitation.

Thanks MeMe!

And thank you for always encouraging the music gift God gave to me, as I give back to you one of your favorite hymns, “Majesty.”

  1. Majesty - How Great Thou Art Rev. Juston R. Smith 5:37