The Flowering Vine: More To The Story

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Our Grandparents:  Leroy and Annie aka ‘Mother’ with Lady G’s Son

 

I thought I’d take a second to thank all of the readers who have supported “The Flowering Vine Series.”

Both Ron and I really appreciate your kind comments about our family.

I inserted this picture of our Grandparents, Leroy (Daddy) and Annie (Mother) so that you can see them as they were in later years.

This picture was taken ONE MONTH prior to our Grandfather’s death.

Here’s the story behind the photo.

Basically, my son had just been born a few months prior and something urged me to go visit my Grandparents and take pictures.

While I can’t say that I had a premonition, I can say that I clearly remember my Grandfather saying to me, as he struggled with his cane to rise from his seat, “Whew Bay, Granddaddy can’t haaaardly get around no more.”

 

His rich baritone voice wrapped itself so closely around my heart and I tearfully responded, “I know Granddaddy….I know.”

The next month, he was gone.

Friends, I can’t tell you how much we all miss him.  He was one of the kindest people I have EVER known and he sincerely loved us all so much.

I distinctly remember how he would wait until EVERYBODY, including all of his children, their spouses and his grandchildren had eaten before he would eat.

He’d say, “Did everybody eat? Did everybody have enough?”

Then, he’d pile the leftovers along with some home grown tomatoes and peppers into his favorite bowl.

Boy let me tell you! That bowl of food looked so GOOOOOD!

God knows they don’t make them like our Granddaddy anymore.

Frankly, there is so much more that can be said about both of our Grandparents, and, as long as you’re interested, we hope to continue sharing those stories here.

Anyway, below is a family tree that includes some of the people that you all have come to know and love.

Because our story includes so much information about our biracial heritage, I decided to include a bit of a descriptor under each person’s name.

Note:  The term “mixed race” applies where there is some interracial heritage but the specifics are unknown.  “Recent mixed race” indicates that this person had at least one confirmed white parent.

On a related note, both Ron and I would like to offer a special thanks to two Caucasian cousins who were kind enough to share DNA and Family records in order to help us to confirm information on our Grandfather’s side.  Had they not been willing to step forward a few more of these boxes would have been marked “unknown.”

Also, a BIG thanks to Ron’s Mom (Jet) and my Dad (Jim) for sharing their memories.

Now, let me stop rambling!

Here’s the Tree!

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The Flowering Vine: Notice that there should be a Mr. H and a Mrs. H (LOL!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flowering Vine: That Time At Wendy’s… An Audio Episode

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This is a true story.

Allow me to present you with a knock-off mini “radio show” re-enactment of an event that took place at Wendy’s in Eufaula, Alabama—Summer of 1987.

The major players were:

  • Grandma, aka Mother
  • Me, aka Lady G
  • Poor random guy at the drive-thru window

The whole thing was poorly written, poorly voiced and produced on the fly by Lady G.

Enjoy:

Mother and The Wendy’s Drive-thru Sign:  Run time: 1:48 (Not even two minutes)

 

 

 

 

On Grandparents, Sages and Ancestors

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Granddaddy (My Dad), circa 2004, watching over my son at a school camping trip. (Excuse the imperfections in the image.)

 

Every time I see folks taking care of their grandchildren, I always make it a point to say to them, “Thank God for Grandparents!”

No doubt, Grandparents can be a child’s guardian angel materialized on Earth.

Trust me when I tell you that I enjoyed interacting with my own Grandparents–when they were alive–and I’ve enjoyed watching my children do the same with my parents.

Grandchildren:  Always be a blessing to your Grandparents, just as they are or were to you!

Ah, but wait, I can hear somebody in the ethers hollering, “But Lady G, I’ve never had a relationship with my Grandparents.”

To that, I say…

Seek the Sages!

Sages are easy to find–if you’re willing to look around you.

Sometimes they are sitting next to you on the bus.

Other times, they are standing next to you at the library.

Or in the line at the coffee shop.

Interactions with Sages need not be unnecessarily long.

Sometimes, Sages offer a quick word of advice or wisdom that can take you ten steps further down the road.

Sadly, many Sages are slipping away in:

Nursing homes

Back bedrooms

Small apartments

Unattended to…

So…

Find the Sages I say!  Talk to them!  Learn their stories! Take pictures of them! Bestow them with accolades!

(It should go without saying that this advice also applies to Grandparents.)

Treasure them…they deserve it!

For tomorrow you will look and they’ll be gone.

Finally, let us not forget…

The Ancestors!

For the purposes of this post, Ancestors are defined as all of the Grandparents, and Sages who have ‘shuffled off this mortal coil’…having ascended to higher realms.

Remember and honor them!

They are watching!

Make them proud!

Love and light to you all!

Lady G 😘💋

Dedicated to My Grandparents:

Mary

Leroy and Annie Maude

And to my Parents, Sages and Ancestors!

The Flowering Vine: Dem Bones

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Today’s “Flowering Vine” entry tells the tale of an event involving my and Ron’s Grandfather (Leroy), our Great- Grandmother (Mary), and our uncle (Bernard).

 

Dem Bones

-By Ron Brown

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.

Leroy’s sixth birthday was made even more special because Mary was headed into town and—as was her custom—had invited Leroy and—by default—Bernard to ride along.  When Leroy turned six years old, he was already tall. He towered over his little, “brown brother”, Bernard. Leroy was Mary’s pride and joy. He was, in her words, “Grandma’s big boy”. Leroy always rode “shotgun”, while Bernard scooted from one side of the back of the wagon, to the other, depending upon which side’s sights were more stimulating.

For Leroy, what was in front of him, was much more mesmerizing than what was to the left, right or the rear of him. He sat quietly, keeping his eyes forward. Mary admired him for this trait and would often encourage him by leaning over to him and whispering, “That’s right Grandma’s big boy, keep them eyeballs peeled”.

This day however, as they rolled down the rambling road, neither Mary’s fierce focus nor Leroy’s eagle eyes could have saved them from what happened next, for just ahead of them, from out of the roadside briars and bramble shot a streak of white. It slithered swiftly and silently across the road in front of the two black mules hitched to Mary’s buckboard.

The two black mules reared simultaneously, at the sight of the albino coachwhip. The sudden jerk of the reins, held tightly in Mary’s tenacious grip, snatched her formidable form forward, in front of the wagon and behind the mules. The mules stepped back; one of them, adventitiously, stomping Mary’s thigh, fracturing her femur. Leroy heard the sickening crack as the bone in his grandmother’s thigh gave way to the weight of the thousand-pound animal’s hoof. The usually silent Leroy, screamed; the usually vocal Mary, was silent.

Leroy leaped down from his perch on the wagon’s seat, then calmed the frightened mules, whose pallid pariah, had now disappeared into the underbrush on the opposite side of the dirt road. Once the mules had regained their composure, Leroy rushed over to Mary and kneeled down beside her. She looked at him affectionately, then gently stroked the side of his face with a trembling hand and wheezed, go get help Grandma’s big boy.

Mary was careful not to instill any additional fear or panic into her grandson. Leroy worked his jaw muscles viciously, as he struggled to maintain his customary calmness. Leroy, looked sternly upon his baby brother Bernard and chided him, “Stay with Grandma boy, I’m going to get help!” and away he went, as fast as his long, lanky legs would carry him. The nearest house was just over a mile down the torturously twisting, dust-topped road.

And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knoweth. Again, he said unto me, ‘Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord”.

Mary lay quietly in the dust and sang to herself softly:

“Ezekiel connected dem—dry bones,

Ezekiel connected dem—dry bones,

Ezekiel in the Valley of—Dry Bones,

Now hear the word of the Lord.”

To be continued…

Ron’s Time Tunnel: The Loveseat Part I

LOVESEAT

The tragic thing about Gramp was that, as she grew older, her memory started to fade; not her long-term memory. She never forgot those old stories but she did forget my name sometimes. During her latter years, I had ventured off into the “wild blue yonder” of the United States Air Force and only returned home twice a year at the most; so it wasn’t entirely unexpected that she would forget me. When I would return home on leave and knock on her door, she would open the door to, what for her, must have seemed a familiar face; but one she could not, for the life of her, recall a name for or where she recognized it from. She would greet me at the door; smiling that gold toothed smile, and welcome me warmly into her home. I could see the questions and confusion peeping through the smiling brown eyes, but she was too kind and polite to ask outright, as might have a less genteel host, “Who are you, and what do you want at this hour of the night?”

Eventually, after having offered her “uninvited” guest a “co-cola” or a glass of water and a seat on the worn, familiar sofa or one of the two, “Naugahyde” recliners lining three of the four walls of her quaint domicile, she would eventually get around to asking, albeit apologetically, “Now, who did you say you were?” To which I’d answer, “I’m Ronnie, your grandson; Fletcher’s oldest son”; being careful not to let any impatience, frustration, or sarcasm seep into my tone.

Then her brown eyes would flash with recognition and a smile would slowly spread across her kindly, golden toned face as she would chime, “Oh yes, you’re the one in the Army?” “Yes Gramp”, I would answer, not bothering to correct her on which branch of the military that I served in. It didn’t matter. I was home, here was Gramp and old stories were sure to be on the evening’s agenda. Anyway! In Cuthbert—my home town—everyone who was in the military was in the “Army”, as far as the citizenry was concerned.

The following story, entitled “THE LOVE SEAT” took place as I was visiting a friend’s mother in the nursing home. I sat in the “TV” room/lobby and waited while the Nurse’s Assistants changed my friend’s mother’s bed. As I sat on the LOVE SEAT I met a lady who reminded me of my Grandmothers; Nancy (Raytakka), Mollie, and Annie. Please enjoy THE LOVE SEAT:

     I never got her name, but as I sat there on the small “love seat” in the dayroom of the nursing home, or “Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center”, as some nursing homes are now called, she came and sat down beside me. She held her big red purse close to her chest with a white-knuckled grip that I’m sure would have caused me a degree of pain, had we shaken hands. She held that purse as if it contained a million dollars, or her life’s savings. She held it as if she believed that loosening her grip would have allowed the purse to just grow wings and fly away.

She sat down and immediately began an unsolicited conversation with me. I don’t know what made her choose me. Maybe I just looked friendly to her, or maybe I reminded her of the son who’d deposited her there in the “healthcare and rehab” and then forgotten her. Maybe this was her seat and it was I who was trespassing, or maybe there was just nowhere else to sit. I had not looked around, prior to her arrival, to see if the latter was the case. She whispered to me in a surprisingly strong, raspy voice, considering that she was a small-framed lady, with not much else covering her brittle bones except the thin, blue-veined, cream colored skin of a Black lady, through whose blue veins much Caucasian blood flowed. “You know I’m 92 years old?” she rasped. “What?” I’d replied in surprise.

“She gets around well for one so aged” slid a thought through my mind…

Please come back next week  for the conclusion to “The Loveseat”

Ron’s Time Tunnel: A Comet’s Tale-‘Gramp’

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As I stated in last week’s post, “Halley’s Memories,” comets come and comets go. Some comets, like Halley’s, come close enough to be seen by the naked eye, then travel back into parts unknown, only to return eons later. But! No matter which of these types they represent, they all have one thing in common; they leave “tales” in their wake. Oh yes! You are correct, they leave tails too, but my focus is on the “tales.” Scientists have found that the tails of comets contain “stardust”. Well, a comet’s “tale” contains “stardust” as well, the stardust of memories.

My grandmother, “Gramp,”was one of these comets; not like the ones who burn brightly and then just fade. She was/is more of a Halley’s type of comet, for although she is no longer physically with us, her “stardust” remains in the form of her stories; stories told and retold by those who had the honor and privilege of sitting in her kindly presence as she told them. My brother, sister and I were among the honored few. We often review them in our conversations, trying desperately to cling to the details; not just for our sakes, but for sake of our posterity and even the world.

As I stated last week, in “Halley’s Memories”, there are; “long period” as well as “short period” comets. Well, memories have similar characteristics for there are; “long term” memories as well as “short term” memories. Long term memories are the memories of those things that happened long ago but you still retain them in detail. They can be recalled with little or no priming. As Gramp ascended the stairway of life, the rungs of her memory began to creak and groan with the pressure of each step, but the amazing thing was that the “long term” memories were completely intact while the “short term” memories were vaporous.

For example: Her best dish was her fried chicken. Her chicken was always the first to disappear at church functions. I always relished the occasions when she made fried chicken and biscuits for supper on Saturdays (talking about some syrup sopping, ooh wee!) and fried chicken and “the works” on Sundays; however, when she started to lose her memory, she made fried chicken EVERY day! She would forget that she’d made it the day before, but we ate it, DAILY. For you see, she didn’t forget the recipe just that she’d made it yesterday! Later on, we had to stop her from cooking altogether, before she burned the house down!

Gramp had six brothers and three sisters; one of which was named Verlin.  She was the one that my siblings and I called Aunt Vulla.  We didn’t know her name was actually not Vulla and her kids and grandkids—my second cousins—didn’t know that we called her “Vulla”. I thought her name was Vulla until I tried to do some family history using Ancestry.com. I found that I was having trouble locating Vulla in any of the historical records.  I knew she was also called Flossie, but, I couldn’t locate a Flossie until the 1940 census. There, she was listed there as Flossie Carter (Carter was her married last name).

In earlier censuses, I found a Verlin in the Smith household. So there I was with no Flossie and no Vulla and an extra child whom I’d never heard mention of named Verlin. Then one day, like a light coming on in a dark, dusty room, I realized that Verlin was Vulla.  Someone, at some time, possibly me and my siblings with a little help from Gramp, had transmogrified Verlin into Vulla. These sisters seemed to have a language all their own; a language like the language that some twins are said to have although, they themselves, were not twins at all. One of the words in this language was the term, “STORNADO”. If you come back next week, I’ll tell you about “STORNADO”! See ya next week!