writing about saying goodby to Grandma Victor got me to thinking about my grandmother. She married my granddaddy when she was eighteen. They lost their first baby, Billy Conner, at birth, and even in her last days of life she grieved for that lost child, and said that her papa was wrong not to let her see and hold him. He thought it would make it easier for her, but she felt it made it harder.
After Billy Conner came the twins, Jimmie Mack and Grady Jack. Then a few years later, my mama, Patsy Jane. My granddaddy was only 28 when he died of pneumonia, leaving my grandmother with three small children to raise on her own.
Her love for him lasted all her days. She wanted to be sure that we knew him, knew the kind of person he was, and she often told us stories about him. When the twins were born, one slept in the bed with her, and the other slept on a pallet with granddaddy, to keep the babies warm. He was a farmer, and at noon she would hang a white towel on the porch railing to let him know it was time to come in from the field for dinner. After dinner, while she cleaned up the kitchen, he figured out how to rock the babies to sleep.
He nailed a piece of wood across the front of the porch swing so that the babies couldn't fall out. Then he tied a rope from the swing to the churn handle. As he churned the butter, the swing would rock the babies to sleep.
When they were a little older, he built a box and attached it to his cultivator. After dinner, he would put the babies in the box and as he worked the field, they would fall asleep. He would signal to Grandmother and she would come to get the sleeping babies and carry them back to the house.
Grandmother was a handsome, independent woman, and had men admirers over the years. I asked her once why she never remarried. I will never forget her reply.
She said that there would never be anyone else like Grady. No other man could be to her what he was. And it would not be fair to marry a man who would always feel like second best.
As her days wound to a close, she talked about him often. She told me that he came to see her, sitting on the edge of her bed, holding her hand, and talking about their future. She said that he promised to come to get her and take her home.
I often wonder about that last night. Did she see him? Did he come and take her hand to help her get home to Heaven?
I like to think that he did.