Sunday, April 11, 2010


This is a talk I am going to give about Steve's grandmother. She died before any of our kids were born, but they all "know" her through our stories of her. She was a unique and wonderful person. I need to figure out how to scan a picture to add to this, but you get the gist of it.

I am NOT a public speaker and I’d rather sing an entire concert of someone else’s words than to try and do this!!! But, here I am. And the only reason I agreed is because Memaw was a very special person to me and I am doing this in her honor.

As you know, I am married to Steve. He is a 3rd or 4th generation Trussville-ite. He is the first born son of Gene and Pat and the first grandson of George and Jean . He was loved and cherished by his grandparents and he in turn, loved and cherished them.

I am going to tell you a few things I learned from Steve’s grandmother....

1. Be true to yourself.

I know that a lot of people say this, but Memaw lived it. Here she is in her infamous Christmas skirt. She wore it every year and it was completed by her signature bright red lipstick. Memaw was her own person and she lived however she wanted and honestly did not care in the least what you or anyone else thought about it! When I was working full-time, On occasion, when Steve was out of town, I would go over to her house on Monday nights and watch a TV movie with her. One evening, I grabbed some takeout and headed over to her house. I found her sitting in her living room in her favorite chair crocheting and watching TV. When I’d gotten in and unpacked the food, I had a moment to actually look at her.

She was wearing a shower cap, an old work shirt of Pawpaw’s over a red TUBE top, a pair of skin tight blue & white seersucker shorts, and jelly shoes. Upon closer inspection, I realized that she had some oily substance on her hair. Little teeny droplets were leaking out from under the cap. I had to ask. “What’s that on your hair?”

“Mayonnaise,”she said..... “I hear that if you put mayonnaise on your hair, it will condition it and make it real soft! So, I decided to try it.”

“How long have you had it on?”

“Oh all day!”

Pause....... I had to ask something else.... “So, what did you do today?” (besides put mayo on her head, I meant!)

“Oh, I took Uncle Ollie to Captain D’s., and.... (Did you go IN? I choked???) Of course... she said! “Let’s see, I had copies made at the library, got the rent from the Merle Norman building, and..... “ she named 2-3 places she’d been to in Trussville that day, while I sat slack-jawed wondering how many people she’d interacted with today while MAYONNAISE was dripping from under her shower cap! But, you know... she did NOT care what those people might have thought. Her hair needed conditioning and she had lots of places to go!

2. Take care of others.

Memaw took care of lots of people. She took care of her mother, her children, her husband, her brother, and countless others. She took care of her grandchildren and adored them all. It was just her nature to care for others.. her gift. She even took care of people long distance. Once she asked me to go with her to see her youngest son, Bobby. Bobby, his wife, Robin, and two little girls lived in Chattanooga. She’d talked to him and decided that they were young, stressed parents in need of some good home-cooking and a visit from grandma. Pawpaw was still walking, but confused easily and she wanted a driver and helper with her. Enter me.

She cooked pots full of food and she packed it all up and had Pawpaw ready to go early that morning. We drove to Chattanooga and arrived on Bobby’s doorstep about 11am. While I helped Pawpaw, she walked in the door and yelled,”HI!” Poor Robin screamed, “MEMAW!!” and dropped something. Memaw had not called them, nor even mentioned she might be “dropping in” and bringing lunch. I was mortified. MY family calls. MY family makes appointments with each other! My family takes care of each other, but Memaw was in a class by herself. She was full-contact hospitality. She cooked, she visited, she laughed and cried with you and she loved with abandon.

3. See the good in every situation.

Memaw lost her father when she was only a child.

When her mother remarried, Jean was left behind to finish high school while they moved away with her new step-father’s job.

She married young, bore 5 children, and her husband worked long hours.

She lost her mother to cancer,

Her husband had a massive stroke and was bedridden at home for months prior to his death.

Memaw was diagnosed with cancer WHILE Pawpaw was bedridden requiring total care.

She lost her brother to cancer and finally...

she died at the age of 77 from cancer.

You could look at her life and see only the negative. But overall, Memaw was happy. She laughed a lot. And she could often see the good during the bad.

Once Trussville Methodist’s newest associate minister, Mark Clifton came to see her. Pawpaw was home from the hospital after his worst stroke and was now bedridden. Memaw was pretty much homebound with him and this was of course a dark time in her life.

Mark came in and was invited into the living room. Her nicest room, bright red carpet and nice upholstered furniture with thousands of knick-knacks decorating every flat surface. Mark sat on the couch and Memaw’s little dog walked up to him and relieved himself beside Mark’s loafer.

Memaw said,”Oh thank goodness! I have been so worried about that dog. He hasn’t gone ALL day and I just knew he was really sick. But I feel so much better now that I saw him go!”

It’s all how you look at it, isn’t it?

Be true to yourself. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.—Ps 139:14

Take care of others. John 13:34-35 ESV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

See the good. .... I have not been able to find any scripture that helps when your dog pees on the floor in front of the preacher, but I think you got the point anyway!

Lessons from an imperfect Christian woman. Memaw filled a huge void in my life. Moving away from my family was hard and her company helped. Plus, she was a unique person, who loved, and influenced a wonderful man who became my husband and the father to our children. Through him, she continues to influence another generation of our family. May they all be as unique and wonderful as Memaw.

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