|Nannie - my mom's mom - standing. Grandma - my father's mom - sitting.|
Nannie raised my mother as a single mom in the 60's - a task that at the time was not respected as it is today but rather looked down upon. She worked hard to provide for my mother and worked even harder to make every occasion both special and memorable. On Easter she would dye pearls to match my mother's dresses. On Christmas each gift was wrapped with special, decorative, themed paper. And every rodeo that rode through town, she provided my mom with new matching boots and hat. Yet, her own shoes were often worn and the sole of them replaced with cardboard or tape.
When I was a child, she worked just as hard to spoil me and my brother. Though she lived far away from us, each visit proved that we were never far from her mind. During the months since she'd seen us, she'd have filled up "goody bags" from each trip to the store she'd taken. Coloring books, colors, clothes, toys, and my very favorite - paper bags filled with Brach's candy, would fill our bags to overflowing. It was an impressive display of love as she lived on a limited income.
Each summer trip to visit her included countless visits to a nursery where each year she'd buy my brother and me a fern to take back home, trips to the dairy freeze up the road for an ice cream cone each evening, and multiple trips to the library where she would buy us used books. Perhaps my love of the written word comes from her.
Nannie's greatest love was Jesus. She would share Him with strangers at the laundry-mat. She hid the Word of God in her heart and could quote it at a moment's notice. She gave willingly to others in need - even when her own needs were greater. She was the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she was - truly "salt and light" in an often flavorless and dark world.
Grandma was a lot different. She was spunky and full of sizzle. When asked to take a picture or when she caught sight of my camera, she'd say, "M-an-dee, you're going to be carried out in a body bag." (Grandma always called me Mandee and always pronounced it in three syllables.)
We shared a very similar taste in men - both totally crushing on Bo Brady and John Black back in the day. When I introduced her to my husband (then boyfriend) she said, "M-an-dee, if I was sixty years younger, I'd wrestle you for him." She wasn't joking. And she would've totally taken me!
Grandma always had a fresh homemade cake, sweet potato or pecan pie resting on a ceramic cake plate in the kitchen for whoever might happen to stop by. She refused to allow anyone to help wash dishes and would run us from the room with a broom if we attempted. I remember early mornings of her cleaning house while listening to a local country music radio station. Lunch time brought the noon news followed by Days of Our Lives and then Another World. Grandma was also passionate about watching wrestling, going fishing, and drinking hot beer from a glass jar that she'd tell us children was apple juice. She loved Thanksgiving as that was usually the day that would draw all of her children and grandchildren together.
When Grandma disapproved of you, you were called a "T-A" - which affectionately refers to a turtles rear end. Grandma figured you couldn't get much lower than that.
Growing up a few states away from my grandmother's didn't give me the opportunity to spend as much time with them as I wish I'd had. But they both shaped who I am today in more ways than they could've ever imagined. Both taught me that faith and family are what really count in this world, that good food makes for warm hearts, and hard work rewards itself. They taught me integrity, character, and perseverance.
I am forever grateful.