We’ve all met unforgettable people in our lives. Some were great in their fields. Some were just people we loved or who had a certain something that drew us to them. This is about one of the unforgettable people in my life.
My maternal grandmother—Mimi to us grandkids—was a very important part of my childhood. She lived in the town of Munday, Texas, 140 miles west of Fort Worth, so we visited frequently as a family, and I almost always spent a week with her in the summer.
Gampaws & Mimi
When I was very young, she and my Gampaws lived in the house my mother grew up in. It seemed ancient to me, with its back porch cistern and its bathtub up on feet.
My only memories of him were at the dinner table and lying on his bed. He died just after I turned three, and his health kept him practically bedfast.
Mimi was always busy. My mother told me she came home from school one day to see her mother sitting in a chair. She was scared, because she’d never seen her mother sitting down during the day before. That’s the way she was. Forever working on something.
KFC wishes they could make fried chicken like she did. I can still salivate just thinking about it. And homemade rolls or biscuits . . . she made them for just about every meal. Mmmm . . .
The old house had a telephone on the dining room wall. You’d take down the earpiece and speak into the mouthpiece, which was mounted on the phone box. There was a little crank you’d turn to get the operator. She’d come on the line and place your call for you. If your party wasn’t at home, the operator usually knew that and would tell you where he or she was instead of placing the call.
Mimi had a sandbox in her backyard for us kids to play in. Trouble was, it sat under a mulberry tree. Most of the time the sand was covered with messy mulberries.
She also had a storm cellar in the backyard. It doubled as a storage place for the jellies, jams and other things she canned, but by the time I came along, she’d pretty much given that up. Mother says she hated that cellar, because “Every time two clouds appeared at the same time, Dad would make us all go down there.”
Mimi built her “new” house in 1950. My dad always said it had rubber walls, because she kept half a dozen or so rollaway beds for people to sleep on when we all came for Christmas, in addition to the extra twin bed in her bedroom and the double bed in the guest room. Of course, we kids piled on the floor in the den.
She kept a toy closet in the den for us. There were several shelves of toys to play with, but the real treasure was an old trunk at the back of the closet. It was filled with old clothes—both male and female—that we used to play dress-up. Lots of fun.
When I visited in the summer, I always had her to myself. My little sister and brother each had cousins close to their ages, so they never had solo visits with her. She would take me to the drive-in movie. After the drive-in, we’d stop at the Sugar Shack for an ice cream treat or a super dog. I loved super dogs. They’re like corn dogs but made with flour instead of corn. Hard to find anywhere these days.
Although, as I mentioned, she was an excellent cook, she loved to eat out and would always take me to the City Grill once or twice, where I’d usually have chicken fried steak. We’d also stop by the drug store my granddad and his brother built. They’d sold it to a family friend years before I was born, but he always treated us as if our family still owned it. He had the best hand-packed ice cream on the planet. I’ve never tasted ice cream like that since then—even at the Blue Bell Creamery.
The worst part of visiting Mimi was that she’d always drag me around to visit some of her friends. As a grandparent now, I can understand the pride of introducing your grandkids to your friends, but back then it was just a royal pain.
Mimi lived to be nearly 98, but her last several years involved lying inert in a bed in a nursing home. I know the grandmother I knew and loved was somewhere back in that body, but what I could see when I visited her bore little resemblance to the warm, wonderful woman I remembered.
Ø Who are some of your unforgettable characters?
Ø How have some or all of these people affected your life?
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A graduate of Duke University, I spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of my career was spent in Texas, but for a few years I traveled many other states. I started writing about 20 years ago, and have six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since my retirement from insurance a few years ago, I have devoted my time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel myself.
It’s so nice you can revisit your grandmother through such wonderful memories.
Thanks for sharing another time with us.
Thanks so much, David, for letting us know your grandmother a little bit. My mother’s mother was vitally important in my life, too–I was born in her house and got to know her very well. She had a cellar, too, but it wasn’t for storms, just for things we had “put up” from the garden or from the gardens of neighbors. Much bartering went on in those days!
So glad to be able to read your blog today. Keep it up–it’s a sweet place!
Thanks for your kind words, Texanne. Mimi’s cellar also was used for storing things she’d canned, but by the time I was born she wasn’t doing much of that any more.
What beautiful memories. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my maternal grandparents, they were such a part of my childhood, even though we didn’t usually live very close to them.
So glad to read this post and find you on twitter:)
Thanks for stopping by, Kara. Glad you liked the piece.
I clearly remember the twin beds in Mimi’s bedroom … the ones Mom inherited. I don’t remember a blond double four poster bed. A few times I shared that bedroom with a cousin or a friend (sometimes I took friends with me to Munday), and I could swear we slept in separate beds. What do I know …..
Maybe she had twin beds early and replaced them, Barb. All I remember is the double.
It must have been great to have such a wonderful grandmother. My paternal grandmother wasn’t really the warm maternal type. I was her favorite grandchild which entitled me to her political tutelage and her lectures on dealing with people. The woman had racial slurs for races that I had not previously heard of and I’m still not sure some of those races ever existed. Only native Americans got a free pass from grandma.
That woman was very refined and always well dressed but inside that stylish leather purse was a .38 Smith and Wesson. From age four onward it became my job to clean her revolver whenever she visited. She would bring me cool toys and expensive clothes while my sisters got little to nothing. I couldn’t touch the gifts until she was satisfied that her revolver was properly cleaned and well oiled. My mother would nervously watch Grandma empty the revolver and tuck the cartridges in a dainty little coin purse where she kept a few extra custom made hollow points. Back then there were no factory made hollow points but ammunition was one of the few subjects where we might consider Grandma “progressive”. Grandma was retired from law enforcement and knew some of New York’s most colorful police and federal agents, She introduced me to some of them and would say their name as if she were introducing a noble science award recipient. or a Yankees center fielder. Grandma would lobby for me to spend the weekend with her in Manhattan because she had tickets to one cultural event or another. If we went to an opera or ballet after the show she would drag me out to clubs with her many interesting friends. Like the group Mascot I would sit there (probably illegally) quietly drinking ginger ale and club soda and politely listening and waiting for the interesting stories to start flowing after the old people had had a drink or two. To this day I hate cigarette and cigar smoke.
After my family moved to suburbia and I bought my first “completely mine don’t anybody else touch it” rifle several cases of ammo showed up courtesy of dear old grandma. She called to lecture me about learning to shoot right. “Your grandfather never missed a shot, your dad shoots well…a gun is useless if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at blah blah blah.” I don’t know who grandma thought I might urgently need to be shooting at fourteen years of age but I was happy for the ammo.
I envy people that had grandmas that baked cookies and kept home made preserves somewhere.
Sorry you had such an unhappy grandmother experience, JH. Glad I could share mine with you.
Oh, Mimi. You are making me miss her all over again. I’m with Jill …. your post makes me very hungry. I’d love some of her fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, cinnamon rolls … and the Eiland Drug ice cream. Yum!! Only thing … I think the guest room had twin beds rather than a double. Are you sure?
Sorry, Sis. It was a double – big blond four-poster. Mimi had twin beds in her bedroom, though. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of.
Thanks for your tag suggestions, Jill. Of course there’s gravy with all of that. Failed to mention it or the mached potatoes.
This is an awesome post and your Grandma sounds wonderful. I have to say though, this post made me extremely hungry! Now I want fried chicken, corn dogs, ice cream, biscuits, can I get some gravy too?
(Your tags are really good too! 🙂