My grandmother, Mae, was born in 1919 and grew up in Kentucky. She loved to grow things. She taught me how to shell peas, how to pick beans, and how to shuck corn.
When she was little she used to try to hop the fence and sneak into the horse races. She loved the Kentucky Derby.
She had brain surgery when I was just a baby. She always used to tell me that I made her well after that. She said that she would crawl over to her when she called my name, and she’d kiss me.
She called me “Kimmy Sue,” or “Gramma’s Girl,” and sometimes “My Vegetable Girl.” She cooked a lot of vegetables and I ate a lot of vegetables!
She had a fence at the back of her property, and on it grew honeysuckle. She taught me how to extract the sweet nectar just like this…
If you ate something that she cooked, and you said you liked it, she never forgot. She would make you that same dish every time you visited. We often went to see her in the summer, around the time of my birthday, and she’d make me an Angel Food Cake from scratch… just because I said I liked it one time. She never forgot. If you liked peach preserves, or sweet pickles, she’d have jars of them when she came to visit.
She bought little “treasures” from the church bizarre. Sometimes they were truly bizarre, and sometimes they were treasures.
She had severe arthritis in the knuckles of her hands. She said the warmth of the sun made it feel better… so she baked to a deep brown every summer. She used to melt paraffin and soak her hands in it. When it dried we would try to peel it off in big pieces. She let me put my little hands in sometimes too. When they came out, I thought my hands looked just like a doll’s hands. Plastic and immovable.
She went to the flea market and bought cheese bread. I liked it toasted with butter. She was always surprised that someone so little could eat 4 or 5 slices in one sitting.
She gave us homemade grape juice. Sometimes it tasted a little weird… I think it was well on its way to becoming wine.
She had a funny way of saying some things. She said “look at television.” She said ‘flars’ instead of flowers, and ‘barkley’ instead of broccoli. She said, “warsh your hands.”
She always loved me and was proud of me.
Just last month she put her arms around me and called me “Gramma’s Girl,” even though I’m a grown woman.