Monday, August 15, 2005

I suppose this means I am the next generation now.

Clarence Brantley d. August 15, 2005

So, here they are. My paternal grandparents, called Meemaw and Peepaw by myself and my brother. They were special in their own right, each one imparting different wisdom to me.

When I was a little girl, we lived next door to them and looking back I am quite sure I drove them nuts with my incessant questions, running back and forth from my house to theirs and just all around Jennishness that only I can provide. But they were always there, always sweet and patient and kind. You didn't mess with Meemaw's dustcatchers and you did NOT mess with Peepaw's fishing nets.

Meemaw passed away last year, after a long illness that ultimately took both her legs, her mind, her voice, her whole being so that by the time she was gone, it seemed like she'd already left long before.

Peepaw wasn't this way. Oh, in the way of the one left behind he'd gone downhill. After almost 70 years together, existing apart just doesn't seem something to do, you know? Peepaw and Meemaw, they were a matched set, both to me and it seemed to each other.

That isn't to say that they didn't fight, because they did. I heard them and thought it was the funniest thing ever. Peepaw would say, Emmer! (her name was Emma but we are hicks, hence Emmer is how its pronounced) go to hell! She'd answer with that southern belle cutting wit that can cut your legs out from beneath you before you quite know what's happened. "Why Clarence! I was wondering when you were going to invite me to your family home!" Yeah, sweet people they were.

She was vain enough to be dying her hair at the age of 70 whereby my Peepaw informed her that it was sort of silly seeings how all her children were gray headed. She was mean enough to tell him that he made her gray headed and therefore he'd pay for the dye job or take two black eyes from her if he didn't shet up. Not that I ever saw them fight, physically I mean. They loved my mother even after she left my daddy, they still made sure she knew it too.

They were real, that was what. Not too sweet, not too cantankerous, not too oldfashioned, and not to old to whup your lil ass young lady if you don't get down out of that there tree! Pawpaw fished for a living for over forty years. Meemaw raised 8 kids one of which was my daddy, who aint the most angelic himself. After years of almost starving, freezing etc, they made sure they had heat in the winter and food in at least 6 freezers, yeah, I said 6.

She is the one that taught my mama to cook (bless that woman) and he is the one that taught me to clean a catfish, a deer, and a squirrel. He also taught me that rabies was a grave disease that would creep upon you unawares. Yes, he did tell me this so I would stop picking up baby armadillos as I refused to believe in the word leprosy. He pulled the beestinger out of my foot as I screamed. Laughed at me but then hugged me when I still cried thirty minutes later.

Meemaw would give you the shirt off her back, but first she'd wash it w/clorox and spray it with lysol. My grandpaw hated both of these products as he swore she tried to kill him with them. I love them both so much, and I have that old man's chin, his stubbornness, her way of standing, her love of disinfectant and ability to rant like a wild banshee one minute and be sweet as a Georgia Peach the next.

Meemaw and Peepaw.. I am going to miss you, but you are once again a matched set.


Meme said...

Aww ((hugs))

I envy you your memories Jenn dear, I have a few of my grandmother that I hold very dear, but I would give anything to have had the rich and vivid ones you have!

I love you bunches


Karen said...

That was a beautifully written tribute and I'm sorry for your loss. Always hold your memories close and make sure to pass them on to the younger generation - that way they will never be forgotten. (((hugs))) Kareine

Mary Stella said...

Oh, Jenn. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Big hugs, my friend. What a beautiful tribute.

Mechele Armstrong said...

Wonderful tribute Jenn. And (((Hugs))))) on your loss. It's always so dang hard. But I loved what you wrote about them.