Sundays with The Grandparents
It’s been so long ago, but I remember the wonderful weekends at my grandparents – kerosene lamps, outhouses, and all… those inconveniences of the times that were taken for granted and did not spoil the most special feeling of family and love.
Many of my uncles and aunts were there with their families, and the setting was perfect – even with the L&N Railroad tracks within fifty yards of the old gray railroad section house. My cherubic Grandpa was an L&N Section Foreman and the finest dispenser of love and wisdom that I’ve ever known.
In the afternoon, some of us boys played catch and some played horseshoes. The girls were either helping, or, getting in the way of the women cooking up that good old southern food. I remember hearing the giggles and playful sounds coming from inside the house.
It seemed the weather was always sunny in Madisonville, Tennessee during those family weekends, but, surely, there would be no rain in my memory banks. The side lawns were freshly mown and that familiar delicious smell filled the air. Hedgerows separated the L&N tracks from the house, only minimally muting the sound of passing trains and their lonesome whistles. Lovely beds of flowers of all colors dotted the landscape.
In his coveralls (can’t remember ever seeing him in clothes other than his coveralls), my beautiful ‘Santa Claus’ built grandfather brought the old ice cream maker, the rock salt, and ice to the side yard nearest the kitchen, ready for cranking that handle round and round. We little guys would do the initial cranking while the cream in the cylindrical metal container was not ready to thicken. When more rock salt and ice were added, that old crank got harder and harder to turn. So, the little guys would reach a point where they could not budge the crank. Then, the big guys would take over.
There were watermelons and some would turn out to be a whitish-green inside – that is, uneatable – but we would all laugh about it.
Grandma and her inside crew, including my Mom and her sisters, were the real heroines of the day. There was so much good tasting food, most of us swore off eating for a week.
The really big thing, though! Well, actually, there were two really big things!
There was something almost sacred about those weekends. Happiness and Love were there in abundance and they showed on all the faces. Oh, there was always some mention of family and world’s problems, but most of all, it was a reaffirmation of family closeness.
The other big thing was Grandma’s prayers. Now, you have not heard anyone pray like my sweet Grandma prayed. She gathered us all in the big living room, and we knelt on the floor while she cried, laughed, screamed her long, long prayer of thankfulness, of hope, of peace and the great glory of Jesus and our ultimate eternal homes.
They were weekends I find easy to remember and, while we go through our orbits and wars and our political uncertainties, I can find in those childhood memories some semblance of unity and love…
We just need to find a way to dispense that unity and love throughout a troubled world.
I’m thinking we need more of my Grandmas and Grandpas.
Billy Ray Chitwood – May 11, 2016
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