What I remember most about Granny was how she would get us up every morning before the sun even thought about rising and wash us up with water from the well. In those days, we didn’t have running water, and the well water was always one temperature too-cold! Now, Granny was not trying to be mean or anything like that; making us wash up with cold water. Oh, she realized the water was almost unbearably cold but she also believed that cleanliness was next to godliness. This was her biggest philosophical quote and she seemed to harp on it more than I cared to hear it!
For as long as I could remember it was always just me, Granny and my sister Lisha. We lived in a little old shanty that also served as our town’s store. When I say town, I mean the “Bottom” which only consisted of about ten families living on poorer than poor land. The condition of the land was why it was called the “Bottom.” It seemed like nobody could get anything to grow except maybe Granny. And a lot of the things that she grew in her garden we sold in the store. Some people used to say that Granny just had a green thumb. Other folks said that the land in our yard was “holy.” Whatever the reason, she kept the town supplied with the biggest cucumbers and fattest watermelons! Those were my favorites!
On Sunday mornings, we went to church good and early. There was no way of getting out of it either. That is unless you were six feet under and pushing up daisies. We attended Bottom Hill Holiness, which wasn’t exactly in the Bottom. It sat on a hill, and it was every bit of four miles from where we lived. Every Sunday morning that walk seemed to get longer and longer, and it didn’t seem to bother Granny one bit! That woman would even walk ten miles to that church if it were that far away! We went through the same routine every Sunday. To this day, I still don’t believe that Reverend Turner ever changed his sermon! He would get to preaching calmly at first. Then one of the choir members would start humming or begin shouting words of affirmation, causing him to get louder and louder. I would sit there thinking, “wait for it, wait for it.” And BINGO; Miss Sadie would jump up and shout up and down the aisles. Several times she stepped on my feet, and didn’t even stop to say, “Excuse me.” She had to be the best shouter in the church! She would almost faint every time, and the nurse would come running with fan in hand to revive her, and off she’d go again. It must have taken a lot of energy to do all that! Several times, Granny caught Lisha and me giggling, and threatened to give us what for if we didn’t stop. After Miss Sadie’s second go round things would calm down again, which was an indicator, that the service was almost over. I could hardly wait for the service to be over so that I could eat. Sunday dinner was always the best and by the time that the last amen was said, my stomach was beating my back bone to death! I would be so hungry by then! Oh, how Granny loved those Sunday services. She would play her tambourine, stomp her feet and get happy! Her hallelujah and thank you Jesus shook me to the very core of my being. I always felt that she had a special connection to God. It was like; when she talked to him he really listened to her.
Granny’s second favorite place besides Bottom Hill Holiness was her store. She didn’t sell much and what she did sell was sold cheap. That store was more than a store. It was the place where old and young folks alike gathered to hear the latest gossip or in the summer to get shade from the heat of the noon day sun. If anybody wanted to know anything about anybody all they had to do was come by the store. Granny would always sit in her chair by the window with her head tilted back most times pretending to nap, all the time absorbing every word. I tell you that woman could hear a pin drop in the other room. She was a master eavesdropper!
I loved my granny with all my heart. I remember how Lisha and I would get into our spats about who loved her more. Granny would always come to the rescue right before the hair pulling started. Oh, yeah, we got real physical from time to time. She would tell us how special each of us was to her and that she loved us more than there were stars in the sky! It made me feel so special! It made me feel all warm and cozy inside. Lisha wasn’t as close to Granny as I was, but she took it the hardest when Granny died. Granny had been sick for quite a while and a lot of the ladies from the church would come and take turns sitting with her almost every day. The day that she died the sun was blazing in the sky, the bees were stinging and the birds were singing; right outside of her window. We were called to her room and as Lisha and I stood at her bedside; our granny opened her eyes one last time and said, “Girls always remember that cleanliness is next to godliness.” Then she smiled, closed her eyes and went home to be with Jesus. She was gone. That precious, uneducated, beautiful, wise, so full of love woman of God was gone and I would miss her more than I could ever imagine.
Lisha and I are much older now, but not much has changed. In fact, we still go to get water from the well every day and wash. Granny said that cleanliness was next to godliness. But you know somehow that water doesn’t seem so cold anymore. Is that you warming the water Granny?