Thursday, April 19, 2012

q is for queenie's bequest




(today's post is the first time i have used something i've written before-- i couldn't pass up the opportunity to share the beginning of my story "queenie's bequest"-- sorry it's longer than the a-z blog should be-- i know this needs re-writes-- okay no more excuses-- this is only the beginning pages-- if you enjoy this please look on the side of my blog for the rest of "queenie's bequest"-- it starts in jan. 2011 and goes through february 2011)



                         Queenie's Bequest


1



Charlotte dabbed at her eyes and nose, clutching the tissue with a vice grip. "I remember most of all her blackberry cobbler, she loved to cook, she was a sweet lady and she loved having everyone down to eat
William sternly, his emotions showing despite his steely stare, shared a crazy story of Grandmal and Aunt Lily scared to death one night by scratching at the back screen door, only to discover that it had been one of Uncle Alvin's pigs. We all laughed.
So much had changed and so much had remained. So much had been left unsaid, by myself, and held in by Ellen, who shook her head when asked if anyone else had anything to say.
This family certainly had it's quirks, there was no denying that, but don't they all, that's what people say.
None of us had given much to Grandmal in the last few years of her life, but on that day no one allowed that truth in. We had done our best. I knew we hadn't.
Charlotte left first, insisting she was exhausted, and kissing one and all on the cheek she was gone, praying for each one as she left. When had she changed so much?

Charlotte was the oldest of four children. In her youth she had won many beauty contests. She was the belle of the ball type. She grew up in the fifties and sixties, marrying young as they all did then. Charlotte had become extremely religious, filled with the Spirit, as she saw it. In the last couple of decades our family had seen so many changes in her. About fifteen years back she had left home to travel all alone. Leaving four children with their dad Rudy. Rudy never gave up on her, didn't really ask where she had been. I always felt it was a marriage that started with a little girl not ready and a loving man adoring her, but slowly enduring each other.


William made sure mama and daddy were ready to leave. Even though he was the youngest, he being the only son had been given the duty of leader.



2


When everyone had gone, my family, my husband John, my children Brian, Kelsey, Amy and Doug left the church graveyard and headed to my grandmother's home.
My grandmother hadn't lived in her house for more than fifteen years. She had been living with her son my uncle, not two lots away from her house.
There were so many feeling and memories about that house. When I was a child, probably until my first two kids were little we had gone there on Sundays, at least once every three weeks. When I was much younger we went every two weeks, but eventually my mother put a stop to that. I guess as I look at it from her point of view it was a bit much, especially for the daughter-in-law. But as a kid I loved going . It was like a different world.

My father had moved to the big city, Richmond when my oldest sister Charlotte was three. My mother and father had lived with my grandparents for a time. Mother remembers it very bitterly- I can imagine.


Grandmal cooked like crazy. There was always so much food. She always had fried chicken, usually roast beef, always potato salad, green beans with whole white potatoes cooked in, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, sliced and baked sweet and dry. I have never been able to make those sweet potatoes the same way. There would almost always be homemade vegetable soup, flat cornbread (not the sweet kind) macaroni and cheese sometimes. She usually had a relish tray with her homemade pickles and candied pears. For dessert there was always at least four or five things to choose from. Some of my favorites were her four layer banana cake, her chocolate cake, and all of us kids loved her chocolate and butterscotch pudding pies, much to my mother's disgust, as she would always point out to us at home , that my grandmother's pie was made with jello pie filling. It was great! Oh and yeah coffee! At my grandmother's we could have coffee with lots of milk. It was the only time we were allowed to have coffee except when my mother would make salt herring and corn meal cakes for breakfast occasionally.


As we stepped on the porch to my grandmother's house my oldest son quickly went to the porch swing. I cautioned him about the condition of it, but he and his brother swung anyway. So many times my sisters and my brother had fought over that swing and my kids too.
I couldn't believe how bad the porch floor looked, but I guess it was really amazing the house was still standing. That old house had been built in the late 1800's .
We opened the front door. My sister Ellen and I had admired that door for as long as I can remember. The door didn't go with the house. It looked as though it belonged on a more elegant old house. The door painted white, had the top half frosted glass with a beautiful scene of deer in the woods. I would have loved to have it and was already thinking of asking for it.


John opened the door, taking us into her foyer. It was filled with old dark wicker with massive heavy dark green patterned cushions. Ellen and I had always admired them too. To the right was the living room. A homey room with an oil space heater. In the winter the younger people couldn't hardly stand to be in there, the heat would knock you out, so my mother and aunt usually sat in the foyer. On one wall was an ugly sofa with a large sofa picture above it. I never cared for the picture and today it hangs over my son's sofa (I had always thought he and his wife had good taste). My son must have felt sentimental about it. It's kind of a woodsy picture with an old shack in it. The coffee table sat in front of the sofa and was always loaded with sit around knick-knack stuff. There was this tea cup and saucer, really ornate. As a child I hated it, but a few years ago as I had started collecting tea cups, my mother took it an gave it to me. I have it on my piano. My grandmother had an old player piano in that room too. We all loved playing that thing. Boy your legs would get a work out! There were so many player rolls. There was this one song I especially liked to play called "Changes". It's funny I had never heard that song anywhere until a couple of years ago we rented a movie, can't remember the name, but it was a recent one set in modern day time. “Changes” was the opening song!

To the left of the foyer was the dining room. I have the china cabinet in my kitchen now. There was so much activity around that table. Always the news from my grandmother and aunt Lily ( she was my grandmother's sister who lived with her) about someone passing away or in the hospital.

As we walked in the kitchen, it was just like I had remembered. You see I hadn't been in the house since my grandmother had gone down to live with my uncle and aunt years before, but it was as I remembered, tiny leaning, the old stove the wood burning kind, the kind you can get now in reproduction. They start around $3000. I have that stove too.

We walked around a little more and as it was starting to get dark, we headed home. No one talked much. My grandmother had been one hundred and four years old. Her death was very expected. But it was more we were leaving. Something you can't recapture, a time a feeling an emotion a part of your life, a place to go, a family. My aunt Carrie whom my grandmother had lived with was still there but my grandmother's youngest son Carrie's husband had died three years before. In a lot of ways the passing of my uncle had changed that part of our family. It had started the death of going to the country.



47 comments:

  1. Good "Q" selection. Sounds like a quirky family!

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  2. I'm interested! Need to read more I think.

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  3. i hope you do--let me know if you can't find it--but it starts in january 2011--thanks!

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  4. I'm interested, too! Definitely need to read more. :)

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  5. Wow, your words captured me right away...that doesn't happen too often. I like the way you made the point that someone's death can mean the death of so many things such as some traditions or going to the country. :)

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  6. i am so glad it did that for you--what a wonderful encouragement---thank you

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  7. Those are some awfully encouraging comments, Lynn. Nice.

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    1. i thought so---for the first time since this blog exercise began, i was actually nervous---and not to make excuses--but the story does start a little slow--i hope people will go back and read it, as it picks up--thanks suze

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  8. Very nicely written; I saw myself there along with you as you were describing the family! Wow to live 104 years! To see so many changes during that time!

    betty

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  9. thanks corgi---my real grandmother whose real name is queenie was not that old--she died 2 days before her 97th birthday

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  10. I like the sense of stepping back in time and the handing down of furniture. I have two pieces in my house, one from each set of grandparents and they mean so much. Plus, my mom would make Jello brand chocolate pudding pie and I loved it.

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    1. haha i know, i wish i had some pie right now---thanks so much tamara

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  11. Aw, this is nice! You have a good story-telling style. Very comfortable and home-y, if that makes sense.

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    1. your reply is below the next comment, shelley--i don't know why haha

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  12. Memories are wonderful, especially good ones about the ones we loved who are no longer here. Tamara's comment about the furniture from her grandparents is so true. Not everyone is sentimental, though.

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    1. i know so true--believe it or not i am not near as sentimental as my husband :)

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  13. thanks, that's what i have been told--never tire of hearing it--thanks so much shelley :)

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  14. It's like a reprint, if it's good or touches the reader, then it's okay to bring it around again. Some written material deserves several viewings.

    Enjoyed this post, Lynn!

    I loved both my grandmothers, and I like having things around me that have a story attached. I have an object or two from their houses. We also have a few antiques from the 1850s that we acquired ourselves, things that our kids will remember in their future. I prefer wood to the minimalist styles that are making a comeback.

    Thanks for the visit to my blog.

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  15. that's wonderful you have memories attached to things from your past---there are still some beautiful things left in my grandmother's house, we were unable to get them, before the house was sold---thanks for reading, i'm glad you did

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  16. Nice blog posting. An incident similar caused a big fight in my hubby's family in the early 1970's and everyone stopped talking. Those responsible, have all passed on; their children who remain today still will not talk to each other and only have the stories of what they were told. It is very sad that this happened.

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  17. i know it is---but not to give too much away--but they still talk in the story and in real life--thanks for reading:)

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  18. When I read this, it feels like I'm in the moment. It brings back my own memories of loved ones passed. Really well done.

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  19. i'm so happy it made you feel that way--thanks mina :)

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  20. Grandmal sure cooked a lot of food.
    A very poignant story, it kind of tugs at your heartstrings so to speak.
    Good one.

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    1. she really did cook all of that and more--that part was not fiction--thanks anthony :)

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  21. Thanks for sharing. There is a vividness in the way you share physical details of a setting- from the sweet potatoes to the piano to the kitchen. I feel as if I'm right there with you.

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    1. what a nice thing to hear--thanks cynthia :)

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  22. What a poignant and touching love for your grandmother. I felt like I was walking through her house with you. How blessed you were/are!

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    1. thank you susan---i hope you will read on--and i was very blessed :)

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  24. Wonderful story, Lynn. And I so understand how much the permanent loss of someone changes so many things--many more than we can ever imagine. When my dad died, it was as if all the family members were like planets suddenly thrown out of their orbits. We all had to learn how to interact and relate to each other differently. There was a lot of bumping going on for a long time.

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  25. i know what you mean--my husband has lost both his mother and father already-- he and his sisters and brothers are having a hard time keeping close--thanks for commenting :)

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  26. Without quirks, I don't know if family would be family. We're all so connected, the loss of one throws everyone off stride - pretty much forever.

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    1. yeah it's like a recipe--take out one ingredient and it just doesn't have the same flavor or consistency---great insights jemi

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  27. Lovely story! It has such a homely feel to it, and so very descriptive! I could picture the house. Very much like a Southern family.

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  28. thank you lynn--i hope you go back and read the rest--and if you do, please let me know what you think :)

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  29. I love this! It reminded me A Hundred Years of Solitude. So captivating, good job! Thanls for sharing.

    From Diary of a Writer in Progress

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  30. thanks so much--i am not familiar with this book--i will look for it!

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    1. wow--i feel dumb that i hadn't heard of this book--wonderful compliment!!

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  31. Love your descriptions and writing, Lynn. At grandmothers', is the only place kids can get away with almost anything.. :)

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    1. thanks cecilia--and so true--now i am that house :)

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  32. Very good Lynn, I like your descriptions, will def read some more.

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    1. oh good, i can't wait to see what you think--thanks rch :)

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  33. Lovely story Lynn!

    I'm really behind on reading due to illness and going back to school after twenty-err...something years. I've appreciated you stopping by my blog. I have some catching up to do!!

    Ann

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    1. i hope you are feeling better and that's great about the school thing---hope you do come back and catch up--thanks so much ann :)

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