The more things change, the more they stay the same. My Grandma Marie was born in 1918. In her life, she had seen it all. She raised five children, lived through the Depression, and was a single mom back when that kind of thing was not accepted. She had no choice. Grandma Marie, abandoned by her first husband, took out in a covered wagon across the panhandle of Oklahoma with three children in tow and settled down just outside of Paris, Arkansas, where she met my grandpa Aub. Together, they had a wonderful life. They didn’t have much money, but they didn’t need money. They grew and raised what they ate, bartering for anything else they needed. They were truly blessed.
Grandma had the bluest eyes I have ever seen, and they could look right into your soul, knowing in an instant the state of our mental health. Without one word, she could see our dreams and failures, comforting and encouraging us all to carry on. She was a strong woman, and in all the years I ever knew her, she never once lied, never once took a sip of booze, and she always had a positive attitude. She did, however, have a sharp sense of humor, and she used it to teach lessons to her children and grandchildren.
Let me explain with just this one story about her….
Marie and Aub eventually bought a few dozen acres up on Paint Rock road, in the Arkansas hills, and it was there she would live the rest of her life. She and Grandpa were very happy up on that mountain. They farmed enough to keep a family and a dozen milk cows healthy, and they were very self-sufficient. They lived off the land and whatever God gave them. As Marie’s children grew older, they each got a piece of that land, and in turn, they left land to their children. I remember visiting their home like it was yesterday, with its million dollar views and red dirt hills scattered among the dogwoods. All my kinfolk were within walking distance from Grandma’s house. When we would visit, three things were sure to happen. We would get fed, we would go fishing, and we would play some music. The food was awesome, and it never quit coming. The fishing was fantastic. Grandpa had a “Pay Lake” full of bass and catfish, where you could fish for two dollars– just put the money in the mailbox. The music would start in the evening, with my uncles and aunts setting up in the garage. People would come from all over the mountain when the music started to echo in the valleys. People would flood that yard, some relaxing on the hood of their cars, and my family would play Gospel and old country tunes until the wee hours of the morning. It was a wonderful time in my life, but I digress.
Back in the ‘70s, my cousin lived in a trailer behind Grandma’s house for a time, and one spring day Grandma noticed a flat of seeds started and being cared for on my cousin’s front porch. Now, this was a normal sight up on the mountain, as people grew a lot of what they ate. But my cousin wasn’t interested in gardening, at least the way you might think.
When grandma asked, my cousin told her he was growing “tomato” plants, and grandma went about her way. What my cousin didn’t know, was grandma did some investigating, and she knew the difference between tomato seeds and pot seeds.
So, one day, when no one was home at the trailer, grandma carefully pulled all those pot seeds out of the flat and replaced them with tomato seeds. My cousin continued to nurture these seeds until the time he realized they were actually tomato plants. Nothing was said, but grandma got her point across loud and clear without even raising her voice– she sees all and knows all, so don’t try to pull anything over on her.
And that’s the story of grandma Marie and the pot plants. See you all next week!