Tuesday, September 22, 2009

She would have been 100 years old today!

One hundred years ago today, on September 22, 1909, my grandmother was born in Grassy Creek, NC. Edna Ophelia, or Maw-Maw, as I called her, was the next to youngest daughter of Willis and Sally Walker. She had older brothers who fought in the World Wars. Her father owned a general store and she went to high school at Virginia-Carolina School. She only was able to complete part of her teaching certificate because her parents died. She moved to Maryland as a young woman (above photo is probably from before she moved away from NC), and there met my granddaddy, Gwyn Blevins. They married and had three children, the oldest a daughter who eventually gave birth to me!

I was born in Maryland and was blessed to have spent lots of time with Maw-Maw when I was young. Even after we moved to New Jersey, we still got to go visit Maw-Maw and Granddaddy four or five times a year. I have so many memories of being at their house and cherish the things that I learned from them. In fact, Maw-Maw is the one who helped me remember when I first accepted Christ as my Savior. Since I did that early in my life, as I got older, sometimes I couldn't remember the exact details and asked her to tell me what she remembered. It was a sweet assurance when she said that I loved Jesus from an early age and that I had asked questions and made a decision to ask Jesus into my heart.

Maw-Maw outlived her husband, and eventually moved to Tennessee to live close to my parents and our family. She lived a long life, passing away in February 2003, at the age of 93. I am so thankful that she got to know her great-grandson, Daniel. He didn't know her like I knew her, since she was not as active in her later years, but she made an impact on his life and he has memories of her as well.

When Maw-Maw died, I wrote down some of my memories of her. In her memory and to honor her life on what would have been her 100th birthday, here are some of the things I remember about Maw-Maw:

. . .She was in the back seat of the car with me when we went to pick up Mom and Baby Jeanette from the hospital. Maw-Maw gave me Ritz crackers out of the long, wax paper sleeves they came in then.

. . .In the kitchen, cooking: She would make big breakfasts and have “dinner” for lunch and snacks for supper. She made “hotcakes” not “pancakes” and made delicious, melt-in-your mouth yeast rolls that she taught me how to fold over "just so" on my hand before putting them on the pan. The rolls were usually for holidays and special occasion meals.

. . .In the kitchen, washing dishes: She’d run the soapy water on the left side and the rinse water on the right. She’d get it as hot as she could stand. She’d bring the dish drainer up out from under the sink and put the wet, clean dishes in it to drain a bit before I dried. I (or whomever was drying) had to dry very thoroughly and not put anything away with any water still on it. She’d put away the dish drainer after every dishwashing.

. . .Making apple pies. They were my favorite and she made me at one as a “birthday cake” the year I was five.

. . .Making salmon cakes. That was a favorite meal she made and when I grew up and got married, one day I called her to ask her how to make them. She told me how to make the salmon cakes (“Use Old Bay seasoning”), she said to make sure I made homemade macaroni and cheese and cooked some lima beans to go with the salmon cakes. I already had that in my mind because that's the way she had done it.

. . .Humming. She would often hum hymns as she worked, either in the kitchen or down in her basement where she did laundry, ironed and canned.

. . .Doing laundry on Mondays. In the warm weather, she would wash the clothes inside in the washing machine and hang them out to dry on the clotheslines out back. I’d get to help her hang things up and take them in when they were dry. She folded clothes sometimes on the kitchen table upstairs or in the basement on a table down there.

. . .Ironing on Tuesdays down in the basement. She had spray starch and would iron everything except socks, even blue jeans, unless we stopped her from putting a crease in ours. She’d turn on “The Price is Right” and other morning game shows and talk shows while she worked, but never wanted to see those old “stories” which is what she called the soap operas in the afternoon.

. . .Gardening her small plots (Granddaddy did the big garden), until her skin couldn’t handle the sun and pesticides and she had to leave the gardening to Granddaddy.

. . .Canning and freezing strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, beans, peas, that they grew in the garden or got from the orchard (peaches, apples). She’d fill up the shelves behind the stairs that led to the basement from the kitchen and at least one whole freezer and we’d usually get some to take home to NJ with us every time we came, anytime of year.

. . .Sitting in her recliner in the living room in the evening. She’d read, talk to Granddaddy, sometimes watch some TV. She had a more feminine recliner-rocker chair and Granddaddy had the big, comfy, well used, recliner. She also had the reputation of buying things and them not being to her liking once she got them home (Granddaddy was a saint for being her courier on many a return to the store). She even returned recliner chairs if they "threw her neck off". :-)

. . .Sewing in the extra room that we slept in. She used to make Jeanette and me dresses and jumpers and she made most of her own housedresses and pantsuits. She taught me how to stitch and to sew a button. She’d let me have scraps of fabric and an old purse to use as my sewing basket. She taught me to make some small doll clothes and coin purses.

. . .Going to church. She or Granddaddy would take me to the appropriate Sunday School class and make sure the teacher knew who I was. I always loved it when people told me they knew my grandparents (which was most people at Oak Grove). In “big church” when I was small, I’d sit with her and listen to her sing the hymns and when I got older, she let me sit with my friends that I’d made there. After church we’d stand around and visit and wait for Granddaddy to finish counting money or seeing to what he had been doing. If Mom was with us, I loved to hear people greet her and catch up with her on their lives.

. . .Having morning Bible readings with Granddaddy in the kitchen. They would read the Bible and the missionary birthday list and then pray together for their family and the missionaries before they ate breakfast. When I was visiting, I would join them, or if I weren’t up yet, I’d hear them and listen in from the guest room, which was right next to the kitchen.

. . .Sitting on the back porch on summer evenings. After supper she’d sit down and rest a little bit and we’d visit or she’d visit with her neighbors. Sometimes we’d walk over and see Mrs. Holloway, Mrs. Gilley or Mrs. Duncan.

. . .Going to Harford Mall or Thrift Drug store. We’d usually see somebody that we knew when we were out in Bel Air like that and I liked it when she would say, "and this is Nancy's girl." Granddaddy did all of the grocery shopping, but Maw-Maw liked to go on other shopping trips.

. . .Keeping butter mints or small pastel mints in the glass candy dish with the metal lid that clinked when you touched the lid to the glass, no matter how carefully you tried to take it off or put it back (and she always knew!).

. . .Making the beds each morning after breakfast. She also didn’t like for us to sit on the bed to play or whatever, but that was mainly after she thought she’d ruined a mattress by sitting on the edge of it when she talked on the phone.

. . .Talking on the phone. She’d visit with her church friends and kept up with what was going on.

. . .Going to the beauty parlor. She’d get a perm every few weeks and every week would go get her hair washed and set.

. . .Washing my hair in the basement sink. She said my hair was like a duck’s because water would roll off of it at first.

. . .Telling me about her growing up years and especially her special relationships with her sister, Iola, and her brothers, Cicero, Challie and Jim.

. . .Going to visit Uncle Don and Aunt Iola, Uncle Challie and Aunt Hazel, Uncle Cicero and Aunt Winnie and cousin Ethelene.

. . .Wearing dark sunglasses and having special tinted film on the car windows that Granddaddy put there to keep the sun out of her eyes. She also had a leather seat so she could slide in easier than on the fabric-covered seat.

. . .Coming to my graduation from college in 1989 and then my wedding in 1991 with Granddaddy. They loved coming to Nashville because they watched “Nashville” every night on TV (they watched The Nashville Network on cable).

. . .Living in the condo and then mobile home. I missed their house on Prospect Mill Road, where all of the things I wrote above took place.

. . .Living in the assisted living or nursing homes. She still loved to visit with others and liked for people to come see her. The workers always loved her and said she was sweet.

. . .Seeing Daniel, her first great-grandchild, for the first time. I knew she loved babies and had seen her with my younger cousins and other children, but it was such a special thrill for me to present her with my sweet baby boy and let her hold him. Later, seeing Daniel “sing” into her pronged cane and play around her or out in the park at McKendree. . . .She loved to see Daniel when he came to visit and he would talk loudly to her and give her hugs and kisses. He interviewed Maw-Maw for a school project and wrote an essay about her.

. . .Drinking a Coke and eating crackers during afternoon visits at McKendree Village in Hermitage. She also liked thin crust sausage pizza from Pizza Hut and liked to eat it with Pringles on the side.

. . .Having her tell me I was one of her special girls and giving me a kiss and a smile.

I've been told that I'm a lot like my Maw-Maw. Sometimes that hasn't necessarily been given as a compliment, since she was particular in her ways (the recliner incident being one example), but I am glad that I have some of her traits. She loved her family, was a hard worker, and loved her Lord Jesus. If I can be like her in those ways, and live as long as she did, I will have had a good life!


Lorie said...

I was blessed enough to know both of my great-grandmothers, but I knew one better than the other. It's always been important to me for my grandmother to know my children. It's very special to me that Eve was named after her (my grandmother is Rosella, Eve's middle name is Rose) & I may be giving my grandmother another gift. This third baby is due around her birthday &, since I'll have to have another c-section, I'm going to try to have this baby ON her birthday. I only wish my children could have known my grandfather. He passed away the summer David was born. Thanks for sharing such wonderful memories.

Jeanette said...

I love this! Thank you for sharing your memories. Here are some memories I have that are either the same or have some differences!

Rolls: I remember eating her rolls, but I never actually helped make them. That is so cool how she showed you how to do it.

Humming: I remember MM humming and sometimes singing just the slightest off of the note. Maybe the humming gene is hereditary since that is how Erica sometimes puts herself to sleep or wakes up slowly.

Sunday School at Oak Grove: It was THE BEST when the teachers would say how much they loved our grandparents. The teachers would always call them by the wrong name, though...trying to guess what we might call our grandparents: "I know you love visiting your Granny and Poppy." I would think "Who?" and then realize that they just didn't know we called them Maw-Maw and Granddaddy.

Talking on the phone: If humming is hereditary, then talking on the phone has to be the gene I got. She loved talking on the phone so much that she had her friends' numbers memorized. The night Granddaddy died she was able to tell Mom all their numbers IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WHEN her husband just died! WOW!

Love the memories.