Have you ever wanted to escape from your past? From the faults and character qualities of your family that you didn’t like or admire? We always sort of disowned my dad’s mom. I never even think of her very often, but when I saw this picture from Sethsnap, I escaped back to my childhood, and remembered my Grandma Tressie Lee.
Seth invited us to write something about the picture, so I escaped into the picture for about a half an hour or so. You can do the same. The colors reminded me of my father’s mother. I’m afraid I wasn’t very complimentary, but the picture was just SO HER! Sorry Grandma. “Bless your little heart.”
Dusky, like the colors in my grandmother’s duster, the baggy dress that she wore every day I ever saw her.
Every day, she donned a different dress, the same dusky colors, large floral prints, barren of interest,
Her personality lost in folds of fabric.
Smiling her pink plaster smile at my hopeful upturned look, never dusting in her duster,
Every surface always spotless, wiped clean of every evidence of life.
After I finished with the colors the picture just kept talking. I went with it escaping from today back into yesteryear.
Sparse and windblown, like Grandma’s graying thin brown hair,
Each permed curl standing out at an odd angle from her scalp like the spindly, lone tree bending away from earth’s scalp.
Cold, like the feeling I had after staying with Grandma for an obligatory day or two.
Even the clouds are stretched to their limit of endurance,
Color seeping from them leaving them dusky, dim and dull, the day’s promise drawn away by the wind.
One can almost feel a storm brewing.
Boxy house shaped, square, clean, and boring.
Grandma and her little square house with shiny hardwood floors covered with a million throw rugs,
Rugs that tripped Grandpa as he scratched from room to room with his walker.
Outside red roses grew on the trellis, a spot of unexpected beauty against the white frame wall.
This photo – the look of my paternal Grandma.
I’m afraid that in my tiny family we all joked about my poor Grandma who was such a complainer, and probably misunderstood. She blamed her lack of education on her older sister. She never “gradgiated” from third grade. I have no idea how Aunt Hazel, who was actually quite delightful, could have prevented young Tressie Lee from going to fourth grade, but apparently she did, and was never forgiven.
Mom hosted every family reunion for Dad’s family because Grandma complained so much. She bragged that she only cleaned house after company left because they would mess the house up anyway. Tressie Lee always knew months ahead of time when she was going to be sick – whenever there was a family gathering scheduled at HER house.
Grandma did like some things. She painted at least 50 paint by number paintings – mostly dusky flowers. They hung framed all over her pale lavender walls right over one of many pastel bouquets of plastic flowers. I used to paint with her. I actually enjoyed it, but keep in mind I am not the creative one in my family. She taught me to like spinach and kale. I’m sure that’s a good thing! I also learned from her NOT to put my hand in the garbage disposal when it was turned on. My other grandmas were not wealthy enough to have a garbage disposal.
She loved to sew. She would make herself a new duster, and stand on the dining room table so Grandpa could pin the hem in for her. Then she would fall off her Duncan Fife table. She never broke anything – not even the table. I laughed at this until I got to be about 40. Then I fell off a table in the school cafeteria full of after-school students watching me put up a bulletin board. Once I fell as I was just STANDING under a tree waiting to go into a museum. One minute I was upright, the next on I was flat on the ground. No explanation – Grandma, did you trip me?
She also loved to watch Oral Roberts and Billy Graham on TV. I remember asking her one time if she was Jesus! I have no idea what prompted me to ask that. I was a preschooler, and they say the “darndest” things, but I distinctly remember that my childish question did not please her. Maybe I thought I would, but I knew I had said something terribly wrong by the time she got finished with me.
She had bunions and aching toenails, and complained of them day and night.
She groaned so much that when my brother got old enough began to imitate her whining voice. “OH my aching toenails!” he’d wail in a wavery falsetto voice. Then my mother’s dad would answer him saying the same thing. By the time we were teens it was our signature telephone greeting. In oour best Grandma T. voice we’d moan, “heLLLLLLLLLooooooooww???? Oooooooooh my aching toenails.” Soon all our teenage friends were doing it too. This was not nice, but keep in mind that Grandma lived 2400 miles away and never called, so it’s unlikely that it disturbed her. However, one day my dad called, and I answered in our typical pre-voicemail whine. I believe that both Randy and I got in trouble for that even though I wouldn’t be surprised if Dad started talking that way also.
I think I’m sorry that I made fun of Grandma, but we escaped the hum-drum of our everyday life, and had a lot of fun at her expense.
Dad once said I was so much like her, and Mom defended my character. I’m not sure he was convinced. I wanted to escape that accusation! I couldn’t see any truth to it, but the genes are there even though I pretended all through my life that somehow HER genes never made it into the mix. However, I have to admit that my toenails do ache sometimes, and once in a while I like to watch tv. I did escape to a prayer breakfast a couple of weeks ago in which Bill Graham, Franklin’s son, Billy Graham’s grandson spoke. I felt like Grandma would be proud, though she would never have ventured out of her home to see and hear him.
The picture below was taken at my parents’ wedding. Grandma wasn’t wearing her typical colors in this picture.
So did you have any family characters in your family, or have you escaped the reality of life and everyone in YOUR family is/was just perfectly amazing?