Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goodbye, Grandma...

It's been a week since I've last posted. It feels so strange to have been away for so long. It's probably one of the longest absences I've taken from blogging. My grandma died and I wanted to spend time devoted to my family. The little things, like making dinner and washing dishes and running after my niece, were a balm to soothe the hurt. Some days, despite the daily distractions of living, it was hard to get out of bed and get going. Those were usually cold mornings - ones where the world outside seemed a little too much and burrowing down into the comfort and safety of the cocoon of blankets was all there was to do to get through.

I couldn't talk about it. Or maybe, more aptly put, I wouldn't. I don't think I was ready. Now, I guess, I am...


My grandma, Attrice, was born on April 3rd, 1920 in Center Ridge, Arkansas to Lee Ernest and Margaret (Bryant) Holloway. She never went by her first name, but instead went by Aulene. She said that her grandmother dubbed her with the name and it stuck. Even her own son, (my uncle), was originally called, Brian, but eventually was tagged by my great great grandma with the name, Jerry.


My grandma got married to my grandpa, Roland Thornton, on November 16th, 1940. They had four children. Above is a picture of my grandma holding my Uncle Jerry in front of their first house. My grandpa built the log cabin himself. They didn't have a lot of money. My grandpa was in the service until he was injured in Germany during World War II. Afterwards, they primarily farmed and worked odd jobs like picking cotton and selling watermelons. Grandma also did canning and sewing on the side to help ends meet.


Grandma is pictured with her four sisters in the image above. From left to right: Edna Mae, Aulene (my grandma), Bernice, Laverne, and Ola. Grandma also had three brothers. After Aunt Edna Mae died a week before my grandma, she was the last surviving sibling.


In this picture taken in the summer of '92, grandma is holding a fish they caught with my grandpa and their friends, Adeline and Omar. Grandma and grandpa were always fishing. Grandpa found great amusement in taking us grandchildren out on the boat and sidling up to the gators. Some of the best fish I've ever had was sitting at her kitchen table. She'd Fry Daddy some crappie (pronounced krɑpiː/) and fry up some potatoes. Grandma was such a good cook. She had a talent of taking a few simple ingredients and making really satisfying and delicious food.

Above is a picture of my grandpa and grandma at their 50th wedding anniversary. All of their friends had organized the party. Both of them were extremely popular and were always going to see someone or have someone come by. It seemed like there was always a family friend from the Ozarks or a neighbor dropping by to say hello or gossip a little. Grandma was sassy. She'd tell it like it was. She'd never say anything negative about anyone, at least not without first prefacing it with, "Bless their soul..."

Grandma lived to be 88. The picture above was taken at one of her birthday celebrations. I remember that she was quite pleased with the cake because of the white roses on the cake. She had a beautiful garden. I remember that she had a rose bush that had the most intoxicating smelling roses that were easily the size of my face and pots and pots of orchids. She took great pride in her garden and flowers.

Here's a picture of grandma striking a pose and strutting for the camera. This photo was taken in 1982.

Above is a picture of my grandma holding me and my cousin James. We used to spend the summers at grandma's house for as long as I can remember back. One summer, they were having work done on their septic tank, which revealed a rich vein of Ozark clay. James and I asked if we could make mud paddies on the back step. Sheila and my cousin Donald came around and smashed the paddies. Grandma got furious at them for ruining our mud paddies and for getting mud stains on their great big white house. She told me a story about how when she was a girl, she and her sisters would go down by the river to make little sculptures and her brother, CF smashed her sculptures. So, she understood and always made sure that the "little ones" got a chance to make stuff.

I think those many years of hardwork led grandma to become very fun-loving. She was a fearsome game player and she'd throw down with any of us kids. We'd play Sorry! and Hand and Foot. She wouldn't let any of us win unless we won on our own merits.

My grandma was the supreme crafter. She was always sewing or making dolls or quilting. I remember one summer, grandma took my sisters and my female cousins to the quilting circle at the local church. I, of course, wanted to go. I was my grandma's little shadow and was always curious what she was doing and making. Also, if Sheila could do it, then I could do it too. At least that was my logic back then. The boys went to the bait shop. It was interesting, but I still wanted to go with grandma. After they came back, grandma took me into her sewing room, which was usually off limits to us kids and she showed me how to sew.
I miss my grandma, but I am comforted by many memories of her.
Goodbye, Grandma.

21 comments:

Lorelei said...

This is such a sweet post Andrew! Your Grandma would have been so proud that you had so many nice things to say.

Margot Potter said...

That is a powerful, touching tribute to an incredible woman of worth. I am quite sure your grandmother must have been so proud to have such an amazing grandson.

Namaste,
Margot

RupaB said...

Oh Andrew, what a wonderful tribute!

2ifbysea said...

Andrew, I lost my Grandma back in 1988. She was a sweet southern lady so very similar to your Grandma. She also was an avid quilter and crafter. I guess when you're from the south that's what you do, lol. She taught me everything I know about sewing. She was mischievious and fun. As most grandkids do, we got away with many things at Grandma's that we would not have gotten away with at home, like drinking coffee, eating rootbeer floats for breakfast and sitting in her garden with a bowl of sugar eating strawberries right off the vine. I must say, you've taken me back to a better time with this wonderful tribute to your Grandma! Thanks

Joan Tucker said...

Andrew, you write so lovingly and in an intimate way to honor your grandmother. I hope these wonderful memories help to keep her in your heart. Joan Tucker

Fab Fibers said...

What a beautiful post about your Grandma. I'm so sorry for your loss. Our Grandma passed about 5 years ago at the age of 90. Our fondest memories are about hanging out in Grandma's kitchen, she always had a homebaked cake or cookie to give us. I'm sure she's smiling down on you.

Jobee said...

I'm glad you found some solice by being with your famiy.

peacockfairy said...

Thank you for sharing your Grandma with the blog world. Grandma's certainly are special beings!

Janet said...

Oh Andrew Im so sorry! Im just reading this...as Ive been away from the PC a few days. Easy to say but I believe that Love Never dies, that when we die its only a beginning!! Im a believer in the Bible and all of its Promises Andrew and in it it says "eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard what God has in store for those that Love Him" and your Grandma is in a Wonderful place now. Many many huhhs out to you Sweet Andrew...
Janet x

Janet said...

a huhh is huggs! lol xox

Gaea said...

What a beautiful post about your family. It brought back special memories of my grandma. Thank you!

Tamsie said...

What a full life lived. I am amazed that people from this generation did so much with so little.
Peace

paula best said...

andrew....this is a lovely tribute to your grandma. grandma's are like angels....i loved mine beyond belief also. sounds like you and she had a wonderful and amazing relationship. you were blessed to have each other. take care of yourself....

Andrew Thornton said...

Thanks so much for all your kind words. I only wish that I could some how share more and allow you all to really know my grandma the way I knew her. She's awesome!

jennifer said...

Well, now I know where you get all your sassiness! Love this post andrew.

Elaine Ray said...

Andrew - Thanks for sharing your Grandmother with us. What an amazing person. I noticed that she played Hand and Foot with you, I have never met anyone else that plays this game so was excited to read that! My children and I learned it from my husband's "elder" relatives and we have spent many hours around a variety of tables playing this. Hand and Foot is one of the few games they loved as young kids and still enjoy playing as young adults. It will be with us forever. Now I'll also have the wonderful memories of your Grandmother with me as I play the game.

Thanks again,
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew, I lived in Center Ridge Arkansas when I was a kid. That area is full of beautiful people and it's a lovely landscape. It sounds like your Grandma's a lovely person and I'm very sure she's proud of your accomplishments. Take care! Cowboygirl

Andrew Thornton said...

My grandma was pretty awesome. I really wish that I could do more to share her stories. I keep kicking myself for not getting more of them written down or recorded. She was full of stories.

Although she lived a hard life, she led a good one.

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Elaine Ray,

One of these days we'll have to get together. You're just across the state. We'll have to throw down and play a round of Hand and Foot. Though, you'll have to remind us how to play again. My memory is so bad. I just remember that the 3's were bad and I vaguely remember clean and dirty having to do with reds and blacks or with all of a kind or ones with jokers in them.

Andrew Thornton said...

Hey Cowboygirl,

We spent a lot of time in that part of the country. We have pictures of us as kids hanging out in front of the Center Ridge Cemetary. (I found that most of the pictures of my grandma or the ones she took were either in front of a cemetary, holding some kind of fish, cake, or game, in front of abnormally large vegetables, or with children in them.)

You know, I definitely agree that it is beautiful country and that the people there, if given the opportunity, are really amazing and remarkable. However, I also remember it being an area full of racism. I still remember being spat at while we were walking down Main Street in Piggott. Or having shopkeepers walk out and watch us with hawkeye vision while we were looking around. Meanwhile the white kids from town were walking around stealing stuff right under their noses. So, I have mixed memories about the area.

The ones with grandma and grandpa were good ones though.

jeweledrabbit said...

Thank you for that small glimpse of your family history.