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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Grandma’s four-room house in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains looked small outside but was huge inside.  Born into a fighting Scot-Irish farm family who plowed fields by day as they argued Shakespeare and the Bible by candlelight, Grandma fought daily battles.  A survivor of polio and rheumatic fever, Grandma walked with the aid of a walker more by will than ability.  

Her oldest sister taught her in a one-room log schoolhouse with 60 students, and Grandma was the only one of her sisters not to attend college.  She couldn’t manage the steps into the buildings and stayed home.  The only times I ever knew Grandma to leave her own home were when she went to the doctor and sometimes when she visited us.  Getting her in and out of the car, and up and down stairs, was a whole family effort.  Those were the days before scooters, ramps, and the Americans with Disability Act.

The walls of Grandma’s house contained neither her heart nor her mind.  The sharpest of her sisters, Grandma devoured books and newspapers.  She could debate theological points as well as public policy but preferred arguing with her sister about whether cranberry salad should have lemon or mixed fruit Jell-o.  Though Grandma couldn’t leave home, everyone around her knew of her baking.  Bake sale organizers asked her to make pies and cakes because whatever she made was the first sold.  Those who were homeless and hungry also knew where Grandma lived because she fed anyone who knocked on her door.

Grandma was also known for her sharp temper, wicked tongue, and crack shot.  Once in her 70’s, she was alone in her home as my grandfather hauled produce on a long distance truck route.  When Grandma heard an intruder, she balanced her shotgun on her walker, turned on the porch lights, aimed, and yelled, “Take one step closer and I’ll blow your balls off.”  The intruder left intact. 

I never knew until her funeral how many lives she touched.  People I didn’t know thanked me because Grandma had tutored them so they could pass high school or their GED.  The lady who could barely walk and only graduated from 8th grade, gave other mountain families the tools they needed for a modern world.

How I wish Grandma had had social media so we could have skyped.  She would have devoured Twitter conversations and turned the world on its end with her biting wit.  Maybe I would have mastered her flaky pie crusts through a Youtube demo.  

In my Dickensian childhood, I could always count on Grandma to stand in my corner.  She was and is a huge influence on who I am today.  Had she had social media, then more of the world would have known this incredible woman who shared her heart and her mind with her family.  The Internet would have torn down the walls of her home and the restrictions of her disabilities.

Maybe you do get to know her.  Sometimes when I write, I can almost feel her standing in a cloud, cheering me on to keep going. 

Thanks, Grandma.

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