I remember her sitting in her red chair, feet propped up on its ottoman, where she would beckon me to sit. She let me try on some of her nightgowns, and since she was often in some sort of lounge wear in her last years, we would sit together, matching, and she would talk to me in her quiet way.
My grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Price, would be 119 years old today if she was celebrating her birthday on earth. Born in Denton, Texas in 1897, she was one of six children, three boys and three girls. She died when she was just 73, from a heart attack, following years of suffering with COPD and heart disease, leaving me with no memories of her walking, but always sitting in her chair.
But I loved her.
She was what my mind conjured up at the word “lady.” Polite and thoughtful, and always quite fashionable as a young woman in the 20’s, she seemed to have an adventurous spirit for a woman of that time. Striking out with her sister, Myrtle, an asthmatic in search of a better climate, they went on a trip to California and stayed for the summer with some family friends. They saw the sights, swam in the ocean in bathing costumes and even had their pictures made wearing them. She was a lover of words, and a poet, and went to college to become a teacher, which was how she met my grandfather (21 years her senior) as she taught his oldest four boys after the death of their mother.
Granny is oddly in my memories as a great cook, although I can’t picture her cooking. Perhaps that comes from the family going on about the fruit of her kitchen. Putting those cooking skills to good use, she came straight home after her wedding to my grandfather, strapped on an apron, and cooked those four little boys dinner, slipping easily into the role of wife and mother that would bring four more children into their fold, my dad the youngest. She went from fashionable young school teacher to being a share cropper’s wife, and the ups and downs of the farming life. There were a lot of hard times, but she handled them with grace and love, and in the midst of it all, she never lost her love of words, as scrapbook after scrapbook filled with clippings of poems and quotes, and her own work, were found after her death.
I was her first biological grandchild. When I graduated from high school, my Aunt Mary Ellen (her only daughter), gave me a heart-shaped Valentines candy box. A little confused, I opened it to find another tiny box containing a small cameo necklace, and several small volumes of poetry and other clippings of quotes and sayings. They were all from my grandmother, saved for me in case she was not there to celebrate this occasion. The necklace had been given to her upon her own high school graduation, and the collection of words, her favorites.
I wore that necklace to my graduation, and on my wedding day. But in addition to it, and the legacy of her dimple, the most important things she passed on to me were her love of God, family, and words. Shown here with her greatest loves (my dad, far left), this picture was apparently taken right at the time of my birth. It’s very close to how I remember her, in the middle of, and doted on by the family she’d served and loved so well.
Happy birthday Granny! I hope you’re heavenly birthday finds you sitting in exactly the same place. I hope it pleases you to know that your not-so-little granddaughter is remembering you with great love this day, sitting in her favorite chair, wearing a nightgown, and writing it all out in the best words she knows.
She is a woman of strength and dignity and has no fear of old age. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says. She watches carefully all that goes on throughout her household and is never lazy. Her children stand and bless her; so does her husband. He praises her with these words: “There are many fine women in the world, but you are the best of them all!”
Charm can be deceptive and beauty doesn’t last, but a woman who fears and reverences God shall be greatly praised. ~ Proverbs 31:25-30 TLB