The apron is blue cotton, generously sprinkled with pink and pale yellow flowers mixed with faded leaves. It snaps up the front, cobbler-style, has two front pockets, and is trimmed in pink. I crumple it to my face, and despite its many washings, if I breathe deeply enough (or is it my imagination?), I can still smell her, still smell them. The scent of their home, my precious grandparents’ Byrds Nest. And the tears well up. And sometimes they fall.
Like rightthisminute as I sit and type. And sob. One moment, please…
Thankfully, aprons make lovely hankies. G’ma would have several tissues tucked into those pockets, but I just use the apron.
I love cooking in my G’ma Liz’s aprons, this one especially. I love serving my family on her dishes.
I have several shirts of G’pa’s that I dream of crafting into a piece of him that I can hold.
Four years gone, my G’pa and G’ma Byrd. September 2007 – G’ma on the 25th, G’pa on the 27th. He had to care for her until the end.
About a week ago, one of my Blessings dropped the lid to G’ma’s teapot. The one that matches the green set of Colonial dishes that she bought in 1959. I think a sob escaped my throat before I ran to my room, not wanting to hurt her with my pain. Several minutes later, I scrawled out gift #694: small hands that are more precious and irreplacible than G’ma’s 52 year old china. Such lessons in broken things.
A few days after the teapot lid was broken, I realized … I cling to the physical remembrance of those gone before. Though I know holding on to their things won’t bring them back, still I cling. Yet I realize that the real gifts that they have given me are in my heart.
So yesterday, I scrawled out some more thanks. Thanks for memories of my G’pa and G’ma. There are so many more that I’m sure I’ve missed. Family of mine, I would dearly love it if you would add some of your memories.
Christmas in Atlanta
Visits to Andy’s Trout Farm
The twirl and whirl of them square dancing
Scenic overlooks in the mountains
Climbing to a mountain top
Trip to the waterfall
Picnics – with “vitamins,” pimento cheese, saltines, ham sandwhiches, and more
The Byrds’ Nest acquired
Upstairs room with twin beds for E and I
Hours of talking with my Bubba
Mountain air through the windows
Vanity with old lamps and hat pins
Mountain Christmas with no power and loads of snow
Fireplace to keep things cozy
Sound of G’pa going in and out the back door
G’ma puttering in her kitchen
Firecrackers in the front circle on July 4th
Smoky and Trixie, their dogs
The basketball goal mounted on the side of the old cabin
Having a place at the table and my “own” cloth napkin
Big lazy susan with condiments, etc
The green dishes, full of good food
Love we could eat – greens (which I didn’t appreciate), beans, cornbread, eggs, toast, “vitamins” (raw veggies), ham, juice… I could go on and on!
Homemade peach ice cream and lemon pound cake
Learning to play Rook (with G’ma, E, and a “dummy”)
Front porch rockin’
Birds coming in to eat
G’ma’s aprons and tissues tucked in sleeves and pockets
Sweet milk and buttermilk from Daisy(?), who lived down the mountain
G’pa always on the go… chopping wood, gardening…
G’pa’s crazy stories
His rib-cracking hugs (I am blessed to have a son who got that gene)
Their places in the living room
Watching baseball and weather on their little TV
The cool of the upstairs bedroom on my face when I’d return from mountain driving feeling carsick
Taking Beka to the Byrds’ Nest for the first time
Going to the canning place with G’pa and Beka
Teaching Beka “Rage” on the front porch (“I never played a game I didn’t want to win before”)
A broken hot water heater in the cabin = fast and freezing showers for the girls!
Walks to the creek/waterfall “next door”
Sharing a birthday with G’pa
Turning “100” with him
Watching Papa, Eric, Beka, Jonathan, and G’pa split wood – at 82, he was the best of the bunch!
Sleeping in the cabin with Eric and Beka our first Christmas married – two couples, two twin beds.
The Easter egg hunt for our (then four) Blessings
The softness of G’ma’s hands
G’ma’s cat paraphernalia
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”
G’pa: You’re a mess! Elanor: No, you’re a mess!
Favorite G’pa quotes: Do you love me like you used to love me before you learned to love me like you love me now?
And: Cotton-pickin’ pea picker
And: I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back to see if I was lookin’ back to see if you were lookin’ back at me
G’pa sitting in his chair, reading the Bible.
Thank you for walking down memory lane with me. Enjoy the song, but make sure you have a tissue tucked up your sleeve or in your pocket.