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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kitchen Table Chats

Kitchen Table Chats

When I think about my childhood, I always think, wow! I had a pretty good one and I then it is usually followed with worry about whether or not Cole will have the same sort of recollection.

I had fairly amazing parents. No one is a perfect parent, but hindsight being 20/20 they showed up and told us they loved us everyday. They supported us, we never wanted for much, and in return they had certain expectations of us, which gave us a certain amount of accountability. My parents did the day to day shaping of my person, and doled out the discipline. But if I had to say there was another person present in my life as a child that made me who I am, it was my Grandmother who we all affectionately called Grandsam. This isn’t my first blog post about her, and probably won’t be my last.

I miss her. All the time. January was the four year anniversary of her death. I ended up taking a personal day from work. Too bad you can’t call in sad. Because every year about that time, I remember and I grieve a little bit all over again because she’s not here to talk to me and tell me what she thinks.

I was the only granddaughter and the youngest of four. Every summer my parents would drop my brother and me off to spend a week or more with my Grandsam, Pa and my two cousins (Jason and Kevin). I spent a lot of time being tortured by the boys. Let’s see if we can drown Ash was always a fun game to play. But I guess it made me spunky and thanks to the torture I can hold my own pretty well. When we all started to grow up, weeks with the grandparents became less frequent. There were plenty of occasions where it was just my brother and I for a long weekend. And when I was old enough to drive, I’d make the trek to Graham, Texas to see her on my own or with my Mom. Usually upon arrival, I would walk through the house to see what had changed and not much ever did. Then we’d sit at the kitchen table and talk- for hours. A lot of it was spent catching up, laughing and remembering. Eventually, it would be bedtime but I knew exactly where I would find her in the morning when I woke up. She’d be at the kitchen table, reading her bible or a book and drinking her coffee. She always woke up early and this was her ritual all the years I could remember.

I’d assume my perch at the other end of the table and the talking would commence again. She'd usually make me a cup of coffee too and homemade cinnamon rolls were a tradition. When you allow yourself to really pay attention to someone’s life story, you allow yourself to really know them. My Grandsam had a really hard life. Really hard, but she was one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. She lost a daughter, Onza Gail; when Onza was only 5. She later recovered and had my Mom and Uncle. When my mother was 10, her father was killed in an oil well fire and that left my Grandmother with two kids to raise on her own and a widow. She later remarried and the only Grandfather I ever knew “Pa” died when I was 12. She once told me, after losing her daughter, she woke up one morning and told God she was through with Him. How could He let this happen? What would she do? She couldn’t be faithful any longer… She teared up when she told me, “ I didn’t last the day- I was praying again by night time… I needed Him”

I learned some valuable life lessons during our Kitchen Table chats. She use to tell me, “Ashley, you need to get an education and be able to take care of yourself and your children. You never know what life is going to bring you and an education is something that can’t be taken away from you..” It’s just as important for you as it is the boys she use to say. How right she was. When I graduated from College she said it was one of the proudest days of her life.

Nothing much was off limits during kitchen table chats. Boys, being upset with or not understanding my parents, girl friends, school, and what I was suppose to do with my life… we covered the gamut. Then she’d tell me she was going to get calluses on her knees from all the praying she was going to have to do for me.

When it was time for me to go home, we’d hug, and she would tear up. She would tell me how much she loved me and just like she always did when I was a kid- she’d stand out in the yard and blow kisses until I was out of sight.

In a world where families often revolve around the Television- Kitchen Table chats were pretty awesome. And while the tradition continues with my Mom, Dad & Family.. I still miss her and remember her and thank her for taking the time to have them with me. What I wouldn’t give for one now.