I lost my last living grandparent on Wednesday. (February 18, 2009) She was my grandmother and I loved her. She lived to the ripe old age of 94. Her name was Cornelia Stanford Lowe. She was a retired school teacher.
Let me tell you a little bit more about my grandmother, whom I affectionately called Mamaw. (please say that word in the most southern way possible, and really draw out the “aw” part of it at the end for emphasis!) She stood all of 5′ 1″ (or was it 2″) – and was a real example of several things to me.
For one thing, she was an EXTREMELY hard working woman. She was up before dawn, cooking breakfast for her family, she worked all day long, fed her family at night and went to bed by around 9. She lived in the country most of her life. There was never a day that I spent with her when I did not witness her hard work ethics.
She had an amazing garden and orchard. In the summers, we would pick the apples and peaches off the trees. She made AMAZING raspberry jam and canned and pickled EVERYTHING. We shucked corn and snapped peas for dinner fresh from the garden. And the tomatoes… well, if you’re a tomato lover, then you know what I am talking about. My garden is pathetic in comparison to hers, although she would never tell me so.
My Mamaw would rub my back and read me stories when I was a child. She would play games with me – taught me how to play canasta (by HER rules, mind you!), Rummikub and Scrabble. She was not too dignified to get on the floor and play with my other toys either. She always had “dress up clothes” for my sisters and I to play with. Many many fake weddings and parties took place in her “parlor”.
The Church of Christ was her second home. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night she was present for the services. The annual Revival really got her going. She loved God and other people. She always told me that she wanted me to love God, too, and gave me on several occasions the book entitled “Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ”. I still have a couple copies.
She was a REAL southern woman. I used to joke that she was so southern that she carried around a tub of lard in her purse “just in case”. She had a SWEET TOOTH!!! She was an amazing cake maker and there is no telling how many couples were blessed by her cakes and pies at their weddings.
On a couple of occasions, my Mamaw hung her head and told me “I know that my ancestors had slaves. I have seen their cabins on our land in Christiana.” She felt terrible about that. She believed in equality for all and that no one was better than anyone else.
Once she and her roommate in college decided to try cigarettes. They bought a pack and they both tried one. They both were disgusted by them, but my grandmother decided to go ahead and smoke the rest of the pack so as not to waste anything! She did believe in “waste not, want not”. She was all too aware of the problems during the Depression and did not want to take anything for granted.
There is a piece of art that hangs in my house which simply states “Trust God. Clean House. Help Others.” This little gem pretty much embodies the way that I try to live, and is definitely the way that my grandmother lived.
Mamaw, I love you. You are my hero. You survived so much. You accomplished much. You were a great example to me of how to live. You will always be with me and I thank you for your dedication to me.
Your Loving Granddaughter Emily