Grandma's Early Memories



Munchin one of my earliest memories is a summer day in 1954 when I was three years old.   This day is forever imbedded in my mind because it was a day my Great Grandmother Mizener taught me a very valuable lesson. 

Grammie was an elderly woman who had been robust in her earlier years and perhaps a bit intimidating to some people.  In my memories she will be destined to always be an old lady that loved me, and who I loved in return.  I see her as a kindly woman with a comfy lap with welcoming arms.  Grammie always seemed to have time to sit and rock with me in an old wooden rocker.  This old rocker must have been new when Grammie was very young as I could recall running my fingers into the grooves of the chipped thick layers of paint.  I see it now a dark green chair with a patterned cushioned seat and back that had a permanent home in my grandparents' huge farm kitchen. 

I remember rocking in the arms of Grammie one evening when I saw the matriarch side of her emerge.  My Uncle Art, then a young man had just returned from playing a football game.   She had scolded him for coming in so late and for the fact that he had left his chores for others to take care of for him.  Unwisely he chose to snap back with a reply and I could feel Grammie's body stiffen as the elderly lady promptly reprimanded him.  This is the only time I can recall her ever raising her voice in anger. 

One day my brother, Nelson who was six, my cousin, Wesley who was four and myself only three were left to amuse ourselves in our front yard.  Being raised in the security of a farm environment this was not a matter of concern in those years.  However after some time we became bored and felt somewhat abandoned as during the afternoon many cars had been making their way up to Grandma and Grandpa Mizener’s house.  We finally made a joint decision to walk up the gravel road to the ‘big’ house, as it has always been known.  Once we got there and entered the screened porch the crowd of grown-ups parted before us much like you would envision Moses parting the Red Sea.  The adults became quiet yet did not stop us as we made our way into the living room.  There before us on a coffee table rested an open coffin and inside laid Grammie. 

We moved onto the couch beside my mother and sat very quietly not moving a muscle as we looked upon the face of this dear old lady.  Grammie looked as if she was sleeping but somehow we did not need to be told she was dead.

Grammie had been given a dignified death, gracefully falling asleep to rest for eternity.  She was the perfect picture of someone totally at peace.  It was a life long memory that Grammie gave me that day.  This is when I learned to accept death as part of the cycle of life that we all one day reach.  It was death without fear of dying and her serene face was one free of all the cares of this world.

That was the last I saw of Grammie but she lives in my memories and I sometimes feel her presence even now.

                                   Cheryl C. Helynck


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