Grands are the best…
Y’all ever get convicted about something and sit and watch the world going by, and the thing you’re convicted about seems to be happening all around you? And you wanna grab some folks and shake them and say WAKE UP! Because, well, regrets are hard, and moments are fleeting and well, you get my point.
I don’t ask why when God puts people and things and convictions on my heart. Wait. I do, too. Sometimes I think, really? Her? That? Them? And then I pause, take a breath and say, “Okay, God. What am I supposed to do about this?” So, here we go…
My son lost both of his grandmothers at a young age. One when he was five and one when he was 12. He sure missed out on a lot when he lost those two. Grandmother and Yaya thought he was the bees knees. (Still would, I imagine.) Still do from their view looking down on him. I know he makes them proud. Every day.
But those GREAT-grands? God showed up and showed out. My dear sweet Granny Gracine. Dylan was very young when she died, and doesn’t remember much beyond “my Granny in the wheelchair.” Being that I was Granny’s girl, I like to think she left enough of me in her that I passed it on to him the best I can. My Poppa Lewis, well, I’ve shared his love of song.
Poppa Rice. I can see him now, in his denim overalls, standing at the screen door when we pulled in. Patting Dylan’s head as he walked in and saying, “Granny, look who’s here.” Dylan running full speed ahead because he knew what waited on him inside. Rolling marble eggs in the floor with Granny Rice. Taking his first steps to that red heart ornament on Granny Rice’s Christmas tree. Poppa was kind, y’all. So, so kind. Quite possibly the kindest soul I’ve ever met. And Granny? You never had to wonder what she was thinking. I loved that about her.
Granny O. Her and Dylan had a love story for the ages, one words and feelings and blog posts can’t describe. She was the lucky one. The one who babysat him when he was young. (The perks and advantages of being the closest, just down the road a-piece one.)
Poppa Neal. The quiet one. Never much one for words. Dylan would say, “Is that all he ever watches is those westerns on TV?” Yep, pretty much. That and Andy Griffith. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t pass on my passion for Mayberry to my son. That’s painful to admit. Major Southern Momma fail.
And Granny Neal. At her funeral, they spoke of the twinkle she had in her eye when she spoke. And honestly, that’s the only way it can be described: a twinkle. Granny Neal would have fared well in this masked-up world we live in. She smiled with her eyes, not with the turned up corners of her lips, deep in her eyes.
You might think this article is about how blessed Dylan was with great-grands, but it’s not; it’s about the dressing. Huh? The dressing? Yes. The dressing. The one of a kind dressing, cooked in a Pyrex bowl in the heart of Granny Neal’s home, the kitchen. That woman could cook, y’all. When I joined the family I had never seen anyone cook their dressing in a bowl. A casserole dish, yes. But a bowl? Never.
It’s pretty hard to ruin dressing for me; I like it just about any ole way you serve it up, but my favorite way was out of that bowl. It almost had a soup-type consistency to it. She didn’t bake it long, she told me. I do remember having the sense between bites to ask that question. There was nothing like it. Pair it with Deana’s deviled eggs and well, I’m pretty sure you have part of the meal they meet you at the Pearly Gates with. And as I sat on my last visit with her, the thought kept going over and over in my mind….”Who’s gonna make the dressing?”
So back to that conviction. I’m gonna need you to listen really close to this part. Write it down if you must:
EACH TIME WE LOSE SOMEONE FROM THIS GENERATION WE ARE LOSING A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE WE CAN NEVER, EVER GET BACK.
And it grieves me, y’all. I get it’s a different age and different time, and this ole world isn’t the same. And I can proudly say I raised a son who “gets” how importantly these folks shaped his life.
Soak it in, y’all. Spend every second you can with the ones from this generation that you can. Make the time. Write down the things they say. If they’re gone already, make sure to throw in a good ole Granny Rice story any chance you get. Keep their memories alive. SOAK IT IN. Every heartbreaking, caretaking, tired because you’ve worked all day second. And for the love of all that’s holy, get ahold of those recipes if you can. Ask for lessons if they are still able. Get out the Pyrex bowl and the cornbread and the sage and the onions and say “I ain’t leaving here until you show me how to make this dressing.”
And another thing, if you’re the generation who is quickly becoming the older generation, don’t let us forget. Even if your grandkids roll their eyes. Even if they don’t act like they’re listening. You never know. They just might be.
There’s just something about a Southern kitchen. It’s the center of love and home and everything good. Keep it alive. For all the Grannys and Poppas gone on before us, it’s the least we can do.