Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tea Pots, Cigars, Worms and Pear Trees

I haven't written anything about my second set of grandparents yet. I guess because I don't feel like I knew them as well. As intimately. A lot of my memories are stories that have been told. Wonderful, warm stories told by my mother, their daughter.

My PaPa Josh, my Josh's namesake, died at a very young age. He was told when I was one year old, he might have six months to live. His head was filled with massive brain tumors. What a strong and powerful man he was, he lived until I was nine. He died on Christmas day. How fitting for such a wonderful man, to die on the birthday of Jesus. My own personal memories are few. The smell of cigars, Hershey's Kisses (silver bells), Orange Peanuts,  and worms. To this day, I can smell a cigar and my sensory actions go into massive overload.

When I first started dating Mims, he was still smoking...cigars. The man was in like Flynn. In many ways, Mims reminds of the stories/descriptions I've been given about my Papa. My PaPa was a patient, reasoning, rational, self-made man. He liked to hunt and fish. Year round'. Anything, hunt and fish for anything. Many of their meals were what he brought home. He raised worms in his back yard for his fishing. I thought that was the neatest thing. He had a little house on top of the ground, open it up..and inside were worms galore! For a living, he wired buildings. Electrically wired. He was the head man on wiring a huge Dam years ago. Before it was finished, he got too sick to go on and was unable to see it finished.

For years, I thought my Sara MaMa was kind of prissy, a girlie girl. But when I got older, I heard stories of her cleaning everything that was killed that was brought home, wringing chickens necks, cleaning and cooking them, and fishing every time fishing was going on. What an impressive woman she was! And a cook, man was she a cook. Many of the recipes that have been handed down to me, were hers. Her back yard had several huge pear trees and she made pear preserves like nobody's business!

I guess I thought she was prissy, because she was always dressed so nice. She was a working grandmother, so I wasn't able to spend as much time with her during the summers. But she always made sure she took a day or two off so I could spend the night with her. We would go out to eat and she had a great ice cream place she would take me too..had the best shakes and cones! Maybe that's why I don't feel I knew her as well, because she worked. And I guess, my grandchildren, when I have them, may feel the same. Because I too, work for a living. It's necessary for my mind as well as financially.

But she had the sweetest voice, when she would say my name, it sounded like angels talking. She would alternate between Michelle and Chell when she would talk to me. My PaPa called me Chell ..."does Chell Bell want a Silver Bell"? She tried so hard with the little time she had, for us to have a good time and I loved her for that.

She played the piano, for herself, and for her Church. Epworth Methodist Church. We went to many a Homecoming at that church. And I knew, every time we went, she must have talked about us, bragged about us all the time. All kinds of people knew us, knew about us, and most of them, I had no idea who they were, and barely remembered them from one year to the next. My mother grew up in that same church, and was married in that church. And both of my grandparents' funeral services were held in that church. Her belief and love for God was undeniable. If she sat down and played the piano, she would play a church song. But she would also teach me fun songs to play, songs you don't think about your grandmother knowing how to play.  She taught me to play a little ditty that went like this ♫ Shoes and clothes, shoes and clothes, that is where my money goes ♫. I remember all those years ago, wondering how my MaMa knew such a silly song?! Amazing.

You never went to her house that she didn't have a case of small bottle Coca Colas. Ice cold Coca Colas and Neapolitan Ice cream. Always. There was a little store right at the top of her road that she traded out bottles and drinks. I loved going into that store with her. You could get for real penny candy!

She didn't have central A/C in her house. She had three metal Frigidaire units. I have never since, felt any unit that put out as cold of air as those did. She had one in her side kitchen window that would freeze you to death if you sat on that side of her kitchen table. And to touch them..literally felt like touching ice. Your finger would stick to it. Like how touching a piece of ice with your tongue feels. 

Til the end, her house, their house, smelled like cigar smoke. I guess because all of his life, in that house, he smoked. It was in her curtains, fabrics, and walls. It smelled so good. I have a dresser drawer that came from her house, and still, when you open the drawers, there is the faint, faint smell of cigar smoke. She died December of 84', that's a long time for a dresser to still smell of cigars.

When she passed, I went with my mother to her house. My mother and her sister Lynda were packing up and separating items. My mother gave me a couple of pots and pans, a washing machine and a tea pot from the top of my MaMa's stove. I still have that teapot and many more. That was the beginning of my TeaPot collection. I have 3 shelves on my walls lined with them, hers leading the way.

For the most part, my mother's memories ARE my memories and I love them all. Her memories fill in the blank spaces for me. But if I close my eyes, I can still hear Sara MaMa saying my name with her soft, angel voice and I can still smell PaPa Josh's cigars. And also from stories I was told, my PaPa, until he passed and after, was my MaMa's Guardian Angel, of that I am convinced.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims

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