In the Beginning, There Was Love

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Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was born and I had a grandmother named Edna.  She lived in a small house on a small farm-and she loved me very much.  Today is her birthday.

In all of my first memories, Grandma is there,  and wearing a  ” house dress”.  She is in the kitchen, the yard, or the “packhouse barn”-and always wearing a simple cotton dress.  In those days that was the way.

I was the first girl grandchild and for a while, the only one that was with her.  It was a grand position to be in.  I come from “sensible folks” and no one was willing to “spoil me” -I remain thankful for that.  It would not have served me well.  I do know that from the beginning, I was loved by this grandmother in a way that I haven’t forgotten though she died just short of a half century ago.

There weren’t “playdates” back then-nor preschools and no one took lessons for anything , especially if you grew up on a farm.  My childhood was spent with my people and I am not sorry for that.  The farm was the only playground I knew of and cousins were the only friends.  I did not even go to kindergarten, in fact, hardly anybody did.

I spent my days with grandma, “running the house”. Everybody else was out working on the farm.   I counted eggs and knew early on how many went in an ordinary cake and how many went in a special one.  I helped her make grocery lists for the A&P shopping.  If I asked her questions, she sent me to the World Books.  They were heavy for me, but I would lug them to the kitchen table.  I really believe that is how I learned to read, because I don’t hardly remember not knowing how.  Grandma was a collector of little glass figurines and had a book case full of them.  When I learned how to be careful, she let me remove all of them and  dust.  She also had a button box with fancy buttons that I sorted and a box of old photographs.  There was one relative that looked scary to me and she used to laugh about that. Most of these things happened on rainy days-if it was fair weather, I was outside. 

I only remember getting in trouble a few times.  I was a repeat offender about climbing on the packhouse.  A packhouse was a huge barn used for dried tobacco , hay and corn to feed the animals-and also for storing furniture that wasn’t needed, but still fit for use just in case.  They were two story with  massive A-framed roofs.  All the farms had one and they all looked the same.  The roof made a wonderful slide and the pasture gate acted as a ladder to get there. The rust on my clothes acted as evidence of the crime. The view of how the fields layed out is still in my memory-it was beautiful.

My little sister was born, and my cousins from Kansas moved back to the farm.  Aunt Josie had a baby.  We all stayed with grandma.  I remained devoted to helping grandma run that house.  I rocked my little cousin, Carolyn for grandma.  Carolyn was my living doll baby.  I would swing her to sleep on the front porch and fuss with the others if they dared to play in the front yard while I was doing so.

After chores were done, we all played for hours uninterrupted.  Grandma was a perfect grandmother  for me though she broke rules as she saw fit.  I ate candy just before supper if I needed too.  She told me secrets about what I was getting for my birthdays-and she ruled us kids with fear.  If you played in a ditch after a rain, you were liable to get the “ditch itch” which was a horrible disease, so we didn’t track mud from a ditch on her floor.  The devil lived under the house-I never went there and if she needed, she would tell a story of  a terrible fate that happened to a child breaking rules such as hers.

Grandma left us suddenly, when I was ten years old.  It was the middle of the night and caused a big commotion on the farm.  Aunt Agnes, her sister, came to get the kids and grandma went to the hospital.  I knew she had died before I was told.

One thing I know, is that the power of love is mighty and does wonders for a child.  Christian asked me a few years back if I still  missed my grandma after decades-I just cried, and in that way he knew though I hadn’t spoken a word.  I grew up with confidence that I was lovable.  I knew how to learn and how to play.  I knew I was needed and valuable to her and the world.

 I make my journey looking out for ditches and cold dark spaces.  . . and  have mostly stayed off the top of barns.  I make special cakes on occasion and Lyla loves a swing.  In the beginning of my life, I knew a love that would span the decades-and that has made all the difference.

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* In memory of Edna Hodges Haddock 1916-1969

 

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28 thoughts on “In the Beginning, There Was Love

  1. This is an endearing tribute to your grandmother! I share with you those feelings of love received in childhood by my grandma and I am also so grateful for that opportunity! They had a great influence in our formative years and we will always treasure those memories. I truly enjoyed reading this with tears in my eyes. Thank you!

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  2. Beautiful story and memories. I was close to a Grandpa like that and I related so well to the night he died. Parents came home from hospital and I heard my sister crying before Mom came to my room. I don’t remember how long I cried, but remember that it was raining the day of his funeral and my own tears couldn’t be stopped. Blessings to Grandma Edna and to all our Grandparents who love us from the other side. Debra

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  3. What an amazing tribute to your grandmother …as are you…I recognized so many of the descriptions from time with my own grandmother on my mother’s side….I hope that Lyla will be able to have the same fond memories of her Grandmothers!!!!

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  4. This is beautiful! What a legacy your grandma left you – love, laughter, values, work ethic, how to play, and that occasionally rules can be broken. I have a feeling your children and their children will have the same experience with you.

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  5. Your memories of your grandmother gave me goosebumps! I have similar memories of my great-grandmother and the stories and lore she shared. We weren’t allowed to play cards of any kind in her house, they were the devil’s work. She was born in 1896 and her daddy was the local Judge – many a man had been killed over a deck of cards she’d say. Thank you for sharing your memories – they bring back my own.

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  6. This brought back such sweet memories of my times spent with my Grandmother, out on a farm in the country also. The woods and siblings were my playground, and chores were a given…..yes, it makes for a rich childhood. Thank you for sharing:)

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