Her name was Grace, but I called her Grandmother, because she was my Grandmother. Now that I’m older I know that her name should have been “Amazing Grace”. She was the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. I know that she taught me more than anyone I’ve ever known. The photo attached to this article is of items I have that are reminders not only of her but of the many things she taught me.
The background of the photo is a quilt she made and gave to me when I went away to college. That was over 30 years ago. When I am upset or feeling alone I wrap up in it and I feel her presence still with me. Many of the squares are from fabric that she made clothing for herself, me or others. Not only did she teach me to quilt, she also taught me not to be wasteful. When she would cut the pieces out for the clothing she was making she would save all of the left over pieces. Many of my clothes when I was very young were made by her from fabrics that were scraps left over from sewing for someone else.
Another item in the picture is an apron. If you notice there is a square in the quilt that is the same fabric as the apron. She also had made herself a dress from that very same fabric. She always wore dresses that she had made herself. She was a member of an Assembly of God Church. Wearing dresses all the time was due to her religious convictions. Although, she tried that was one thing that I didn’t learn from her. Although for many years I would always were dresses to church, I would wear pants or shorts to other places. Now days, I wear pants to church, but I still remember to wear my “Sunday best”-something she taught me.
There is also a pin in the photo. She had many beautiful pins that she would wear either on her dress or on her coat. She didn’t wear any other jewelry except her wedding ring and a watch, if I remember correctly. Her wearing so little jewelry, I believe, was also due to her religious views. I guess I learned that from her also. My wedding rings, watch and a small crucifix necklace is all the jewelry that I normally wear. On really special occasions, I will wear a small pair of earrings. My reasons are due to my religious views, also. I am Catholic and try to follow in the way of St. Francis. Therefore, I try to live a simple life and rather than spend money extravagant things I try to use it to help others that are less fortunate than I am.
In the photo you will see a pretty handkerchief. If you look really close you will see there is a rubber band that is securing some coins. When I was very young, probably 4 or 5, Grandmother would always give me some coins for me to put in the offering at church. Many times I would not have a pocket to put the money in and so she would put it in a handkerchief so I would be able to keep up with it. Normally it would be a small amount, sometimes only a few pennies and a nickel, but it was still a gift from me to God. She taught me that we are to tithe to the church and that it is a way for us to give to God. This lesson I learned very well. Each Sunday before I walk out the door to go to church, I make sure I have my tithe in my envelope for the collection. She also gave of herself for the church. She did many things with the women’s group at her church. One year they were selling a cookbook that was a collection of recipes. The money they made was to go to help pay for a fellowship hall complete with a kitchen at the church. When it came time to sell the books, Grandmother had suffered a stroke and at home in bed. However, it was told that she sold more of those cookbooks from her bedside than any of the other women. I remember buying several of them myself and giving them as gifts to friends and co-workers that year at Christmas. At first, I had told Grandmother I would like to buy one; she’s the one that reminded me of ALL those people I could give them as gifts to!!! Like I said before, she was an amazing woman!
The last item in the photo is a cookbook. This is not the cookbook that she sold. That cookbook was very special and I still own it and use it. The cookbook in the picture is one that was compiled by my Aunt Ann. She gathered many of the recipes of our family’s favorite dishes that Grandmother used to cook. Grandmother was a great cook and although she tried to teach me to cook, I never was as good at it as she was. Before I got the cookbook I tried many times to make cornbread dressing to go with my Thanksgiving turkey. Some of the recipes were either really bad that I tried or I really messed them up. One, I know. was so bad that I threw it out and we had Thanksgiving dinner without dressing that year. However, once I got the cookbook that my aunt had compiled I was able to make dressing that tasted just like Grandmother’s. I now serve it proudly each year at Thanksgiving. It makes me feel as if she is there with us during our meal and I guess she kind of is.
I never knew that anyone beyond our family knew about that dressing. I grew up living in a small town in Arkansas. I now live in Kansas and one of the women that I grew up with in Arkansas lives in North Carolina now. She and I talk on the phone once or twice a month. She called me last year in October or early November and asked me if I knew if anyone in my family had my grandmother’s cornbread dressing recipe. She told me her mother remembered it being brought to a potluck one time in the small town where we were raised and she was wanting to find a recipe like it. At first, I thought…hmmm… should I be selfish and not give the recipe out, but then I thought no and I passed along the recipe. I probably wouldn’t have pass it along to just anyone from that town, but my friend and her family had been next door neighbors with my grandmother before I was even born. I was probably 5 years old before I realized that they were not part of our family. After Thanksgiving my friend called and told me how much she and her mother had enjoyed the dressing.
And so, even though my grandmother passed away more than 10 years ago, many people remember her for many things including her Thanksgiving dressing. Now, I know I have to work harder to make sure I, too, can leave something for people to remember me by. Who knows, it maybe my writings!