LIFE CHAPTERS

It’s a forever reminder from my dear grandmother: Anything good you get in life will come from God

Bill Stamps
Posted 3/18/17

My grandmother, Miz Lena, had many successes in life. Anytime she was congratulated for a job well done, she would say, "Well, thank you. It was by the grace of God."

She could be tough and …

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LIFE CHAPTERS

It’s a forever reminder from my dear grandmother: Anything good you get in life will come from God

Posted

My grandmother, Miz Lena, had many successes in life. Anytime she was congratulated for a job well done, she would say, "Well, thank you. It was by the grace of God."

She could be tough and cantankerous, from time to time. But, she was also humble, modest and gracious.

I learned so much from her. She made her point about most everything, using examples. In her country way.

About bragging, she said, "Honey Baby, if you're good at somethin', keep it to yourself. They ain't nothin' worse than somebody tellin' about how good they are. Or, how much money they got. Or, how good lookin' they are."

“Like yore non-blood Aunt Fran, wearin' them outfits and just dyin' for some man to tell her how purty she thinks she is. She'll get old, and her dresses ain't gonna fit. Then, what's she gonna do? You best keep yore opinions of yoreself to yoreself. If you’re good, then everybody knows it. Ain't no need to remind'em. It's bad manners."

When it came to those who flaunted their wealth, it was, "They ain't that many people, these days, that's got a whole lot. Men has come back from the war and havin' to start from scratch. They was over there gettin' shot and havin' to live like poor folk live. Not much to eat. Worryin’ about gettin' killed."

"You ask one’a them what they think about bein' rich. They don't care about how much money somebody's got. They're just glad to be alive and workin'. Takin' care of their families. Besides, rich don't have nothin' to do with bein' a man.' It's how they got rich that counts. And, what they do with it."

While she could be quite forthcoming with her honesty, she could spin a yarn, to make a point. She wasn't one who put up with complaining or feeling sorry for yourself. There was always a way to divert you from your problem by one-upping you.

I remember coming into the house, on a cold and snowy Middle Tennessee winter day, and complaining to her about how cold my hands were. In Miz Lena's way of thinking, kids went outside and played when it was time to clean the house, no matter the weather. When it rained, you played under the carport.

My hands were red and freezing. Miz Lena took one look at them and, for a brief moment, I thought I saw a glimpse of concern in her brow. I thought, "Aha, she feels sorry for me. I'm going to get to come inside. Maybe watch TV. Have some hot chocolate. Maybe a cookie or two.” Then, she turned it on me.

As I stood on the stool, in front of the kitchen sink, and she ran warm water over my hands, Miz Lena said, "There was these two little boys that didn't listen to their mothers, and went down there to the railroad tracks, the one that I keep tellin' yuh to stay away from. Well, they got to foolin' around, and a train come by and cut they hands off. Now, they ain't got no hands. I bet they wish they had some hands to get cold. I bet they wish they could build a snowman. Now, take yoreself back on outside and be thankful that yuh got hands to get cold."

Miz Lena had her own routines and schedules. The times my two younger brothers and I lived with her, she had us on half-hour regiments. Supper ... half-hour. Homework ... half-hour. Watch a little TV ... half-hour.

I should state that the half-hour of watching TV with Miz Lena was not necessarily a treat. Granted, we generally got a scoop or two of ice cream, while sitting on the floor, in front of the tube. But, as a kid, eating ice cream and being forced to watch Lawrence Welk was kind of a wash. The ice cream was gone in a matter of minutes. You still had lots of Mr. Welk to deal with. You dare not complain, or Miz Lena would tell you to go over your homework again.

After TV, it was "warsh-up time." My brothers and I took baths. In segments. I was always last. Getting clean was not fun. Grandmom was in charge. Sometimes, she'd take a toothbrush to your head. She'd say, "What did you do, Honey? Did you just go jump in the mud?" Clean hair. Clean nails and clean teeth. Clean pajamas. That was her nightly objective. She had her work cut out for her with us three.

A little more TV time. Generally, it was the news or some other "old folks" program and then off to bed. Prayers. Not those short verse ones. Honest-to-goodness ones. As scheduled as was Miz Lena, she always took her time with us when it came to the content of our prayers.

I would say "Amen,” and she would remind me, "Did you say, ‘Thank you Lord for havin' a roof over yore head? Thank you Lord for havin' somethin' good to eat. I didn't hear you say anything about havin' clean clothes to wear to school. Be sure to thank him for havin' family that loves you.’"

Then, she'd wrap it up for us three boys with, "And, thank you Lord, for these three grandbabies of mine. They're gonna be fine men someday, with yore grace."

With that, it was lights out and her constant reminder, "Now, don't let me have to come back in here, or yore gonna have somethin’ to pray about."

Happy Sunday, everyone. Let's all say a prayer for one another.

———

(About the writer: After nearly four decades in the entertainment industry, Bill Stamps and his wife, Jana, and their two dogs — Cowboy and Scout — left Los Angeles for Cleveland. Bill's father was morning man and general manager of WCLE back in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Bill attended grades 6-8 in Cleveland, and has come back to write a book about his childhood in the South. He may be contacted at bill_stamps@aol.com or via Facebook.)

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