When I joined the family, I was still a bit shy, not talking a whole lot – totally unlike my new MIL. As we say in our neck of the woods, she never met a stranger. She was always smiling and talking.
She always had her house in order early and was ready to walk all over their small town to garage sales with her good friend, or hop in a car with another friend and go visiting or seeing the country.
Like my mother, she grew up in tough times. Widowed at 44, she accepted whatever came and went on. Even though her husband had always taken care of their finances, she got a job, paid off her house and managed to save a little on her minimum wage job – for many years, she got up at 4:00 in the morning to work in a restaurant kitchen that was not air-conditioned.
Granny loved working in her garden and continued to plant one in her yard until she was 90 years old. She had a green thumb and could grow more in a small spot than anyone else. One of my favorite things was fried okra. The rest of the family wasn’t crazy about it, including her, but she planted it and made sure that I had my fill each year. Many times when I received it, it was already breaded and ready to fry.
When we were coming for Sunday dinner, she got up early, made homemade rolls, cinnamon rolls and cooked practically everything for lunch before leaving for church services.
One of Granny’s greatest moments was when she became a grandmother at age 67. She thought her grand-daughter was perfect – still does.
Granny’s 97 years old now, her sight is almost gone. She has not quite recovered from breaking her hip four years ago, but she still has that strong spirit and lets her caretakers know what she does and does not want or need. And she still smiles a lot.