My Hometown Grandma

Vintage Ad for Eagle Brand Milk with blue background and woman preparing a recipe
Eagle Brand
My grandma almost wasn't my grandma. The story she told me was that she was born a twin. She was named Dena while her sister's name was Gina. 

Gina died at birth and as grandma's daddy was going to town to bury the tiny baby, he was told to hurry back because the other one would soon die as well. He intended to buy a goat to milk for grandma but while in town someone told him to feed her Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. He did and grandma survived to marry and bear nine children.

My grandparent's first child was born in 1926. She was my Aunt Inez. Grandma said when they were staying in Tulsa, she was so afraid someone would steal her baby, she pinned Inez's nightgown to her own. My daddy was the second born child.

Grandma raised the first of her children during the Great Depression. Daddy said they never had much but they never felt poor. Grandpa worked hard, grandma grew what they ate, and they made do with what they had. 

Grandma did get a job at a canning factory in town but when she came home to see all her babies lined up along the fence line awaiting her return, she did not go back. 

I was the first of her fifty plus grandchildren and was born a mere two years after her last child. I would like to think her first grandchild was her favorite but grandma never played that game.

Since grandma started taking me to church when I was three weeks old, most of my early memories are tied to those services. Memories like Sunday School stories of David tending his flock and Noah building his ark depicted on flannel backed paper cutouts stuck to a fabric covered easel. 

I have a vivid memory of sitting beside grandma during song service as she patted my hand against hers in rhythm to "I'll Fly Away"I remember Sunday School songs like "Jesus Loves Me" and the verse "this I know for the Bible tells me so." And "Jesus Loves The Little Children"  with "they are precious in his sight."

I learned that "Jesus Loves Me" meant Jesus loves ME and that while I am weak, He is strong. I was taught that "Jesus Loves the Little Children" meant He loves ALL the children, not just the ones that look like me. These mini-sermons in melody impart lessons that last a lifetime.

Since they still had five children at home when I was born, my grandparents did not often buy the grandchildren presents. We found gifts from grandma in everyday lessons and experiences. I learned that grandma was always there, calmly listening, never judging, ever wise. She taught by example without raising her voice.

Photo of grandma, daddy, and Aunt Inez sitting at table talking
Grandma, Daddy, Aunt Inez
We were not a wealthy family or even a well to do family but grandma taught us to be thankful for what we did have. Nightly prayers and mealtime grace taught us to appreciate simple things like a loving family, a safe home, and food to eat.

We understood compassion from the stories of grandma and great grandma feeding the railway hobos who showed up hungry on their front porch. We saw generosity in grandma's family filled Sunday dinners that also included many members of the church congregation.

Over the years, countless weary families would knock on grandma's door requesting assistance to get closer to their destination. Did they sometimes take advantage of grandma and grandpa? Perhaps, but not one time were they turned away without a little gas money and a bite of food.

I learned honesty and integrity from grandma. I was blessed to never hear curse words pass her lips. If she gossiped, it was not around us children. I was honored to know that she and grandpa always spoke the truth. Grandpa said a man's word was his bond and grandma said everyone had value.

The most important lesson I learned was that if no one in the world loved me, my grandma did.