Monday, December 27, 2010

Sycamore Trees and Cinnamon Toast

For most of my childhood, my MaMa Eloise was my best friend. I told her everything. She would laugh as hard as me at jokes, funny people and just general silliness. She was a very little woman in stature, about 5 foot tall, maybe. Wore a size 5 shoe. The only thing big was her tummy area. I had two MaMa's, both in Phenix City. I decided at an early age, that so I could distinguish between the two, I 'named' them...Big MaMa (Eloise) and Sara MaMa (my mother's mother). I am told at first, she was not very pleased. As a small child, I guess you don't know any better. You do what works for you. All I know, is I called her that into adulthood, until she passed. I didn't know until much later into adulthood that she didn't like it at first, because she never said a word. I'm guessing she knew I meant no harm.

When she would laugh, her whole body would shake. The good kind of laugh, the most real of all. And Lord, did we laugh. My love for books came from my MaMa. She would read to me, buy me books. One of my favorite books to date, is the Uncle Remus Story Book she gave me. And every book was inscribed and dated. My Joshua has that book now. I read those stories to him when he was little. I don't like to brag, but I could do those voices like nobody's business! Brer' Rabbit and De' Tar Baby..classic story book telling material. She had books all over her house. And most summers, at least one day was dedicated to romping thru Used Book Stores. The kind you could bring books in and swap as well.

She taught me how to cross-stitch very early. I loved it. We made pot holders with that ropey looking stuff you tied on a frame. And she taught me how to iron. I don't know how many other people are aware, but back in the day, every man's undershirt, handkerchiefs and undershorts were ironed. Yes sir. I have a small scar on my wrist from learning how to iron. That was one of my favorite things to do..sounds unreal since that is the thing I hate most to do now.

She was thrifty if she wasn't anything else. She would buy bread and freeze it. I don't think I have ever known anyone else who froze loaf bread. I never went to her house that she didn't have fig newtons, ice cream and the best oatmeal ever made. We would make milkshakes, real milkshakes, with ice cream, milk, vanilla flavoring, sugar and a blender. She made real cinnamon toast too. Not that fake cinnamon sugar you buy now. She made her own with real sugar and cinnamon mixed. And soup, some kind of real homemade soup was always in that house. My Granddaddy was Assistant Superintendent of the Russell County School system. He came home for lunch every day. And had a bowl of soup and a sandwich. Every single day.

There was no dishwasher and I loved washing her dishes. Her kitchen windows went all the way across the back. They were huge, wide open windows. I would stand there and wash dishes and look out over her yard. Right smack in the middle was a big, beautiful Sycamore Tree. She had Dogwoods and Pines all thru her yard as well. She had clotheslines way in the back that we would hang out clothes on during the summer. She had a dryer, but the line was used in warm weather. The redwood deck that was on the back of their house went all the way across the back of the house. We would sit out there a lot, early mornings and later in the evenings after supper. That woman loved a stray cat. She fed them all.

When I got older, I loved to cut their grass during the summer. And one year, I begged for them to let me on top of their house to sweep off the pine straw. That seems a bit surreal to me now as climbing on the 2nd rung of a ladder makes me break into a cold sweat!

I have a lot of wonderful memories from that house. When my grandmother passed and my granddaddy remarried, he sold that house and moved about 5 miles up the road. That was very upsetting for me. Not only was my best friend gone, but now every childhood memory I had was gone. And strangers would be walking all thru the house amongst my memories. After he moved, the first few visits to see him in his new house, I would drive by and look at their old house. But I only did it twice, it was just too painful.

The 2nd summer my Granddaddy lived in his new house, we had gone to visit. He told me to come outside, in the back yard, he had something to show me. We walked out thru the sliding glass doors, and right smack in the middle of his new back yard, he had planted a Sycamore Tree. At some point, he sure must have been paying attention to me. I know I talked about that other tree at his old house a lot when they lived there. It was just an amazing tree. Huge and perfectly spread out over their yard. The shade it provided was unreal. Maybe he needed to plant the new Sycamore tree to make it a home as much as I needed it to make it feel like his home for me.

It wasn't very big when he planted it. But when he passed some 13 odd years later, that tree had gotten pretty big. And now it too, sat very pretty, right smack in the middle of that back yard. Last summer, I planted a Sycamore Tree in my backyard. I cannot wait until it spreads it's limbs and re-shapes the way my backyard looks.

Life is all about memories, big and small, significant and insignificant. The memories are what get us through. To be able to close your eyes, and be right back where you were years and years ago. The smells, the sights, and the people. And the trees, even the trees. Sycamore trees. Their leaves are huge and when they drop they are some kind of messy, but man alive, I sure do love those trees.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

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