Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Missing Grandma Snider

I was going to blabber on about the Feeding of the 5,000 and those pre-historic Moderns who try to explain it away and remove my miracle. I hate it when that happens. But that’ll keep.

I remembered something today—a month-long visit at my Grandma Snider’s house the summer I was nine or ten. My grandfather died when I was three. This may be boring to you because right now I’m simply remembering a nice lady that played pick up sticks with me, taught me how to play double solitaire, yes that’s right, “solitaire” for two people. It didn’t get much crazier than that there on Dorchester Rd!

This particular summer, my normal week away turned into a month. Each Saturday night I’d ask my mom for another week. But in the end, as with all kids, I finally wanted to go home. But what a month. Grape Twinsicles. A rope swing. Tibby the little Lahsa Apso (I’m sure I spelled that wrong.) Walks to the Haraundale Mall, a tiny little mall with a fountain and everything! Grandma would grab her pocketbook and keys and set her glasses more firmly on her nose. Sometimes, not on our walks of course, she’d let me look at the keyhole incision in her iris that Dr. Brumbach cut there during cataract surgery or something years before. She had angina too. We also made sure the little brown bottle of Nitros were tucked inside her pocketbook.

Grandma Snider hated the word “purse.” For her sake, I’ll only use the word pocketbook here.

It was always Grandma’s “last Christmas.”

What blistering walks! Making sure the gate was latched, we’d then tromp down the cracked sidewalk, up the street, over the sand in the lot where the water tower stood, Grandma letting me looking up at the high blue cylinder as long as I wanted. Then over to the Mall, or the Box ‘n Save. The coolness of the Mall was something! And we’d sometimes even get a little treat at the restaurant counter in the middle. I seem to remember Jello in one of those stainless steel, pedestal dessert cups. Maybe chocolate pudding.

Grandma’s brother, Uncle Cal, stayed with her that summer. He bought a really old red car we named Magnolia. Grandma Snider hated it, but she threw in part of the money so he could drive her to her doctor appointments. Uncle Cal was always happy. I didn’t realize until later that he was an alcoholic. I’m happy to report he finally kicked it. But only after Grandma, his sister, who he called Girlie, kicked him out.

Oh, and church. My goodness. A Wesleyan Holiness style church. No wedding bands. No scissors touching the heads of the women. And there we were in Grandma’s kitchen with decks of Playing Cards! Grandma Snider was her own girl. But how those women could wail! One time someone was injured very badly in a car accident just outside the church during a Wednesday Night prayer meeting. I’ll never forget their wails there at the altar as they prayed. It scared me then. Now . . . looking back, I think it’s pretty cool that some people realize the throne of grace is sometimes for storming on behalf of little boys practically disemboweled in car crashes. Okay, I guess I’m still a little scared. If anything ever happens to one of my kids, God forbid, I’m calling them!

Other things I remember about that summer: sparklers on July 4th, a myriad of glass animal figurines catching the afternoon sun in the big picture window at the back, disseminating colors all over the old pull-out couch and shag carpeting, Uncle Cal rolling his own smokes, Uncle Cal cutting things out with the jigsaw for me to paint, stories of Uncle Bert, their other sibling, who then lived in New Jersey with Aunt Jean. And all of these people are dead now.


I mean it. Now that I’m old enough to appreciate what they have to offer, they’re gone. I hate that. Don’t you?

I loved it after dark at Grandma Snider’s house. She’d turn on the local Family Christian Radio station and we’d listen to Songs in the Night.

Songs in the night, songs in the night. Let there be songs in the night.

Long after I went to bed, on a foam mattress tucked into a closet and was that ever cool, I heard the soft, dark sounds of my Grandmother. The shuffle of her solitaire cards. The clink of spoon against cup as she made more Sanka. And songs in the night.


Blogger Donna J. Shepherd said...

Lisa, I don't know how you are so coherent at seven in the morning. I had to wait until afternoon to comment.

This took me back to my visits to Kentucky in the hot, hot summers. My granny was barely five feet tall, and no firecracker on the fourth of July was any more fiery. Part Shawnee, she tanned as dark as anyone I knew, and much darker than I ever could with my blonde hair and green eyes. She wore her hair up in a tight bun which lay low on the back of head. At night, I watched in wonder as she let her hair down, still jet black and down past her waist. She ran an old bristly brush through it and left it down for the night. The next morning, she brushed it again, and quick as a wink, she'd have it braided and back up.

During the day, Granny worked hard. She fed the chickens, and worked in the garden. She even killed a snake or two. We hauled water in buckets up from the spring - no indoor plumbing at Granny's.

We broke beans, made cornbread, and shucked corn. When I came home from our summer visits, I said words like 'yonder' and 'light bread.'

I agree - I miss my Granny, too. The one thing I don't remember is going to church with her. How I wish now that I could sit and pray with her, and share the joys of serving God.

Thanks for the trip back down to the hills of Kentucky. I look forward to your new posts.


May 18, 2004 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

I love how you set the scene, Lisa. You make me feel like I was right there. :)

Thank You, God, for special times with grandparents. (My mum's dad loves to tell stories, and while the rest of the family thinks they're "tall tales," I suspect there's more truth in them than they'd expect!)

May 18, 2004 at 6:09 PM  

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