Everybody ought to have a Grandma Jones. I went to see mine this afternoon. My Grandma Jones is 87 years old. She has really seen a lot in her lifetime. She raised nine children. She buried her husband, one child, and a great-grandbaby. She has led a full, productive life. And I've never known her to lose her temper. I remember sitting on her lap as a child and her reading me stories. My very favorite was this huge book about the gingerbread man. When I spent the night with her she'd tell me bedtime stories. Her version of The Three Little Pigs is the best one I've ever heard. And in the summertime we didn't sleep at the head of the bed. We slept at the foot... 'cause that's where we could feel the ceiling fan best.
Grandma has 22 grandchildren. She has only spanked one of us. It was not me. (I'm sure there were times I needed it, though.) While she was taking care of this particular cousin and his sisters and brother (their parents were in Seattle; their mother was battling leukemia and having treatments out west) said cousin absolutely refused to do his homework. I wish y'all could hear Grandma say, "And he WOULD NOT do his homework!" I don't know that she means to be funny when recounting this story, but it is hysterical to me. I remember Grandma having a pillow with a stick (almost like a paint stirrer) attached with "Grandma's Paddle" embroidered on it. However, I don't think that's the one she used on my homework hating cousin. All in all, though, she's pretty laid back.
When we were children four of my cousins who lived far away would always come to visit during summer for two weeks. About four others of us would spend the days with Grandma enjoying our cousins' visits. One of the best parts of those two weeks was us taking turns picking out that day's flavor Kool Aid. Orange is still my favorite. One of my least favorite times was one particular cousin telling me to touch the electric fence we kept the hogs in (he did this frequently). Daddy told me not to touch it, so I knew it was in my best interest to leave it alone... for multiple reasons.
Have you ever seen your grandmother run? I have. One time. It was in 1990. I remember this specific event because it was the night my sister cut her finger off. (Don't worry, it was sewn back on.) We lived next door to Grandma. The running event started this way: Mama was in the kitchen fixing supper. Jessica, about nine months old, was playing with a green bean can. All we can figure is the can mashed her finger off. Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Daddy was overseeing my bath. I wasn't supposed have the water past my belly button. I don't remember for sure, but I reckon Mama hollered and Daddy left me to drown. I didn't know what was going on, but I sure wasn't going to let the opportunity pass to have deeper-than-I-was-supposed-to bath water. And that's when Grandma came running in the bathroom. Apparently Mama and Daddy called her to come watch me while they rushed Jessica and her barely hanging on finger to the emergency room. I will never forget the panic of her disposition as she hurriedly turned off the water. Me? I was just as calm as I could be. Now we joke that that was the night Mama tried to chop Jessica's fingers off and Daddy tried to drown me. Didn't work.
I've always loved being told stories. One of my favorite about my family is Grandma talking about Great-Grandmama Jones wanting a milk cow. Great-Grandmama had gotten on up in age, and she and Great-Grandaddy built a house next to Grandma and Grandaddy. (My Grandaddy Jones, F.W., was their oldest child. I didn't know him. He passed away when Daddy was in college.) Anyhow, my laid back Grandma put her foot down about that milk cow. She said something along the lines of, "Oh, no. Not more work for Vera." (Vera is Grandma's first name. It's of Russian origin and means "faithful." I think that's a very appropriate name for her.) I really wish y'all could hear my Grandma talk. She's so serious, but like my daddy, that just makes it all the funnier.
And then there's the story of why the Joneses buy chickens from the grocery store rather than raising them on the farm. Grandma had a chicken coop. Grandaddy had dogs. Grandaddy's dogs got after Grandma's chickens, and that didn't sit too well with Grandma. My demure, laid back Grandma said, "F.W., we can either have your dogs or the chickens." Grandaddy chose his dogs. Grandma had a neighbor lady, Miss Ceely, come help her dress all the chickens and put them in the freezer. And from that point on, "Vera bought her chickens in town."
Oh, I wish everybody knew their grandparents! I enjoy hearing the three I know tell me about when they were young. I value their opinions and advice as an adult. Grandparents are priceless.
The best thing about my grandparents, though, is that I know that my grandparents will be with me (and my babies) in Heaven. Not only do I have them on Earth, I'll also get to spend eternity with them!
This picture was taken at Providence Baptist Church, Mothers Day 2004. It's three generations and absolutely priceless.