Saturday, November 8, 2008

Grandma's Hugs



Her arms engulf me in greeting as she
holds me against her ample bosom. I can
smell the Tabu and the hard day’s work on
her flesh. She has on her navy-checked cotton
dress that has been line-dried and starched
in the sink before she put the iron to it.

She finagles her vast body into her worn green
vinyl lounge chair and sighs to let me know
all is not well with her or many others.
She picks at her cuticles as she worries
about me,family,friends,and the world situation.

She punctuates my update with “Well…”
as she shakes her freshly permed head and fills
our space with the odor of ammonia, the mole on
her chin moves as she tells me how much she
misses me, how much she loves me, how she hopes
I have a good relationship with God.

Beside her on the cheap, clanky folding table
sits her favorite Bible, highlighted and
bookmarked, the worn edges beginning to curl
up. There’s a notebook with a yellow No. 2 pencil
she uses to jot down visitors names. She checks
her notes, riffles through the pages. “Not as
many came today as they did last Wednesday.
I had 52 visitors last week but I won‘t have
that many this week.“ Then I smell the biscuits
baking and I walk into the kitchen.

I notice the incline towards the back porch is
steeper the floors creak with each step. There’s
always something cooking on the stove as if she
had a sixth sense about people coming. I half
the fluffy biscuits and add some of her fresh
churned butter and the blackberry jam she put up
last summer and we feast. Grandma died 13 years
ago but I can still see her there on Highland Drive
standing by the screen door with her arms outstretched.

7 comments:

Mary said...

What a wonderful memory you captured of your grandmother. Your poem radiates with warmth and love. You have included so many details, have brought her to life with your words.

SeaStar said...

I love this poem of love remembered - For me it was peach preserves Grandma Anna made and peaches will always smell of unconditional love for me.

Darrell said...

You captured Grandma Jackson in such a way that I got choked up reading your words. Of course, I get choked up watching my kids eat breakfast...

I love your writing Judy, and the topics you write about. You are motivating me to put more things down on paper, both by your kind words about my writing, and by seeing how much fun you are having with your writing.

Your poems about grief and loss touch me deeply. I FEEL what you felt when Brian died, even though I didn't really know you back then. What a strong person you are, actually, you and Bill both, to have gone through that ordeal and come out on the other side stronger and more grounded in life. Wow. You are very brave to write about these things, and I applaud you for it. I would be little more than a puddle.

Back to Grandma Jackson. I'd like to add a few more memories, if I may.

-The fresh bottles of Coke that she always had under the stairs. Glass bottles of course, no plastic!

-The black and white photos of all of us on her shelves. We are all forever in the 1960's, like it or not.

-Sitting out in the front yard, the back of your legs sticking to those steel lawn chairs, but loving every minute of it because you were at Grandma's house.

-Grandpa Jackson drinking his coffee out of a bowl!

-Sleeping upstairs,on a sweltering hot summer night, with the only relief being an ancient oscillating fan, that was most assuredly a fire hazard, but it was Grandma Jackson's house, and you loved it.

-The little plaque she had on her wall that said "The Hurrier I go, the behinder I Get!"

-And, above all, the most important, soul-stirring memory of Verda Jackson---her wonderful laugh. Sometimes, we'd worry that she was going to have a stroke when she would go into one of those all-out belly busters, but she never did. She'd laugh the laugh of an angel, and survive it, breathing heavily as she came down from her high. And we'd relish the moment, thinking that Grandma Jackson would live forever.

Thanks for bringing her back to life for a little while Judy. I hope you have found the strength to listen to the tapes. Let me know when you're ready for the video of her baking biscuits! It is a true test of strength! No person can watch this video without shedding tears!

Love ya Judy Darrell

Judy said...

OMG, Darrell! What great memories. Grandma would tell me how she got addicted to cokes when she worked at the factory. I loved her so much. I know we all did. Visiting her was a little bit like visiting heaven for me. The tapes you sent are just wonderful. I think I've worn them out but I still can't get through them at one sitting. The tears come and I miss her so much. I guessed that she died 20 years ago but couldn't remember the exact date. I know I have it written down. Do you know? I am ready for the video of her making buiscuits though I will probably wait till after Christmas to view it. A body can only take so much. LOL Do you remember Grandpa eating buttermilk and cornbread. I remember his laugh, too. You are right, Grandma had the laugh of the angels, maybe that is why I thought I was in heaven. That smile when she'd see me, oh, my, I miss that smile still.
I have such vivid memories of sleeping upstairs. That room will always be in my mind and heart. I remember one night she crawled into bed with me up there and held me while I cried most of the night.
What a gift she was and still is. :)

Darrell said...

I'm not sure of the exact date that Grandma died, but my oldest son Jake was 6 months old, so that would put it somewhere in the summer of 1996. Yes, it's only been 12 years.

Judy said...

Thanks for the information, Darrell. I can't believe she's only been gone for 12 years...it seems like an eternity. Its Dad that has been dead for twenty-six years.
That's what I get for relying on this memory of mine. :0)

Bill said...

I remember the first time I met Grandma. I was a little apprehensive as your new husband meeting the woman that was such an influence in your life. As we pulled up in front of her house I saw a large woman waiting for us to get to the front porch. As we approached before introductions she hugged me with a hug I shall never forget. I thought I was gonna die. LOL She hugged me so tight it made me feel so loved and welcomed. It didn't take long for me to feel the love and warmth that you had talked about for years. Especially after that breakfast she made us. Its neat having a Grandma that is so loving. She etched out a spot in the corner of my mind forever.