Here’s the Dirt…Joe’s Christmas Gift

Many years ago, I was trying to figure out what to do for a Christmas gift to give to everyone in my family. It had been about a year since my Grandmother passed away, so I decided to write down my memories with her and give it to my family for Christmas.
I have never given something that truly turned out so special for them…and me.

This year, as you make your Christmas shopping list…sometimes it’s the simple things that mean so much to someone. Maybe you could share your stories with someone special this year.
Here’s my gift…

I Remember

I remember long, long ago as a child visiting Grandmother at her home in Ringgold, Georgia.
The perfect toys at Christmas, matching leopard pajamas for all the grand kids,
The snow one Christmas, the huge fireplace.
The tape recording of “Cousin Bessie and black eyed peas”,
The Christmas dinners sitting at our own “kid’s table”.
Green beans cooking on the stove, the bumpy driveway, the spooky basement, the hemlock we loved to climb…

Grandmother always did everything right.

I remember long ago…Billy’s accident…Grandmother moving to Winterville, Georgia to be near her brother.
I remember Winterville…visiting cousins and kin, Bigmama’s house with the huge tree in the back yard with it’s enormous branches.
The chicken coop, getting stuck in the mud in the daffodil field, riding bikes,
“The Marigold Festival”,
Even though they missed the parade, the calico dresses Grandmother bought Mary Jane and Laura to wear.

Grandmother always did everything right.

Grandmother finding places for everyone to sleep…bed, couch, or cot. Everyone crammed in her tiny apartment, her making her little “house” a home. Frescas and Fritos. Cal’s coconut birthday cake. Georgia vs. Tennessee football games, forever faithful Georgia fans. (Even though we are from Tennessee)
Billy’s hard times. The two Georgia football season tickets placed in his pocket as he was laid to rest.
Mary Jane’s shrinking dress at the funeral.

Grandmother always did everything right.

I remember going away to school…loosing touch for awhile…changes…
I remember calls from Grandmother of being lost. Mother finding her and bringing her home to Chattanooga.
I remember Grandmother moving out of her apartment in Winterville, selling her car with the “boots and umbrella in the trunk”.
I remember Grandmother selling her house in Ringgold, cleaning the dark “fuzzy basement,
the dump, “well it use to be a dump”, the re-dump.

I remember Grandmother moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Fridays to “Clip n’ Curl” to get the “do” done. Littlebit hanging out the car window,
lunch at Central Park, “bacon cheeseburger plain”, week after week, year after year.
“Bide Lou”, “behoove me”, the lobes, tea time, tongue twisters, “jumping off ski lifts”,
“Why Joe, you’re telling a tale”.

Grandmother always pointing out holes in the Christmas tree with her cane.
The Christmas list, “Oh, I’ve got a mess”, even though we always did the shopping for her.
Grandmother never admitting she lived in Tennessee, even though she had been here over ten years.
The laughter…the fun…

Grandmother always did everything right.

I remember the fall…the move to the nursing home…visiting…
Someone going to have dinner with Grandmother every night for two years, bringing the family together,
Mother and Bebe’s endless support, never once complaining about the long hours.
Mother and Bebe now becoming the “Mother” to Grandmother.

I remember the nursing home…the childlike atmosphere. Realizing they were the children now, helping out…serving trays..rolling them to their rooms, telling them how tall I was each time someone asked.
Having conversations. Shopping for Christmas presents so everyone would have something under their tree.
How they could make my day seem special, no matter how hectic it had been.

I remember Grandmother always having a smile on her face when I walked in the room.
Me still being able to get a laugh, even though her mind was somewhere else.
Finishing her sentences for her when she was trying so hard to tell me something.
The wonderful feeling I got every time she remembered my name.

Grandmother always did everything right.

I remember her strong heart,
I remember the laughing, the crying,
I remember ten minutes til five…

I remember knowing I would be doing the flowers for the blanket. Wanting to make them special…
Flowers from the “Dawgs”, Littlebit, Riggins and Max.
Hydrangeas grown from cuttings from Bigmama’s house, brought seven hours in Cal and Cindy’s lap from their home in South Carolina, magnolias from a special friend’s home, ivy from our yard,
A little bit from everyone,

And a final touch…
A hidden “Red Ribbon” for her love of Georgia,
And one “Orange Rose” for the memories of her with us in Tennessee.

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