I had hoped to receive a call from the editors of Real Simple Magazine, informing me that I had won a writing contest. Unfortunately, I did not. I hadn't gotten my hopes up too terribly much. I knew the chances of me actually winning were relatively slim, but I still hoped. It doesn't discourage me at all, though. I have big plans for my writing in the future, and am currently working on a joint project with a friend (can't wait to talk more about that in the future!)
The contest was to write about the first time you experienced true love. While there are a few different times in my life I could have written about, the words flow most easily when talking about my grandmother. If you haven't read the story about her, you can do so here. Following is the story I had submitted, and I would love to hear your opinions!
|My grandma, Kathy, I believe in high school|
“Stop peeling that potato so thickly, Mimi,” she said as we cooked supper together. “It is wasteful, and that could have been a bite for someone at the table.”
Kathy was the second of 5 children born to a Union Worker in a small,
panhandle town. Because her father frequented the picket line, money was often scarce. To say they lived frugally would be an understatement, and “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” was not just a motto; it was a way of life, and sometimes the only way they could survive until her daddy’s next paycheck. Texas
Kathy grew up, and soon met and fell in love with a boy with bright red hair. Oh, how she loved that bright red hair! She soon discovered she was pregnant, in an age when ladies did not get pregnant before marriage. So she and her bright, red-haired boy married. Together, they brought 3 children into the world. They bought a house way out in the country, away from the hustle, where the kids could run and play. Her life became an endless repeat of sewing clothes for the children, cooking their meals and leading Girl Scout meetings. She was a homemaker; a wife and mother, and never worked outside of her home, but in these things, her life was full.
|Grandma and Pawpaw (Kathy and Robert)|
As inevitably happens, Kathy’s children grew. They left home, and started families of their own. Three little granddaughters became the highlight of her life. She would stop any passer-by on the street, just to show them pictures of her granddaughters. Sleep-overs at Grandma’s house were a common occurrence, and each night was the same routine. Kathy would haul out her big, black cast iron skillet from under her old gas stove, and whip up something for supper. Nothing ever fancy, mind you, but always satisfying. Her oldest would help cook, soaking in every ounce of wisdom she had to offer. Kathy would then fill a plate of food, and a glass of sweet iced tea for her red-head love, and then carry it over to him. “Grandma, can’t he come get that for himself? Why do you do it for him?!” the eldest granddaughter would frequently ask. Kathy never answered with anything more than a smile.
It wasn’t until years later that the granddaughter realized that serving was just another way Kathy was showing her husband how much she truly loved him.
The girls would lie in the giant bed, giggling, talking, and playing. This would go on for hours, until out of sheer exhaustion Kathy would shout, “SETTLE!!” Not a girl was brave enough to speak once that word had been uttered, for as fun as Grandma could be, she could also be a stern disciplinarian.
Kathy knew no stranger. Where ever she went, she could find a friend. If a friend was not to be found, she would make one. When her life wasn’t being ruled by the three little girls, she was busy crocheting. She loved to make things with her hands, and she was a master. She would often haul crate after crate of afghans and other crafts to craft shows, just to make a couple extra dollars. After all their years together, her re-haired love would join her, both still in love with the other.
More grandchildren, six, in fact, blessed Katherine’s life, though she would never meet three. The oldest granddaughters grew, and soon a great-granddaughter blessed Kathy’s life. The pride on Kathy’s face could not have been matched! But, that joy was soon ripped from Kathy’s life. Her red-haired boy, whose hair had long since turned to white, had fallen asleep, unable to wake. There was no one left to cook for but herself; no one left to do laundry for except herself. Her crocheting and crafting was all that was left in her large, country home that brought her joy. Her family was quite spread out, and while they made every attempt possible to visit, they simply could not be there every day.
|Kathy's brother Gayland, and her three kids, my Aunt Tonya, Mom, and Uncle Don|
The summer of 2006 in the
panhandle was brutal. The heat, the wind, and lack of rain in Texas that year made even Hell look hospitable. Kathy’s brother called, and warned her of a fire that had just recently started, and if not controlled quickly, would be heading straight for her home. She rushed to her house to grab her important papers, just in case the fire was not extinguished. Thoughts rushed through Kathy’s head; would her home that she and her loved had worked so hard for be standing at the end of the day? Texas
She made her way down the bumpy, oil field roads that she had driven a million times before, when the thought of some elderly neighbors crossed her mind. Though no longer considered young herself, she knew they would have no one to help them escape this massive blaze, which was getting closer and closer with each passing moment. Excusing all thoughts of saving herself, Kathy stopped at their home to render aid.
How Kathy tried to make it out in time. But to Hell, in the form of flames whipped by 40 mile per hour winds across a scorched earth, a human is no match. Kathy was unable to escape the flames. She would never see her children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren again, but it wasn’t long before she was embracing her red-haired love whom she had missed so much.
Kathy’s life had always been ruled by the simplest, yet hardest of all tasks to perform; the act of placing one’s self below everyone else. Her life had ended, exactly as she lived it; helping and serving others.
“But Grandma, you have a whole bag of potatoes, and you can always go to the store for more. There is plenty for everyone!”
“One day, when you have a family, you’ll think back on this conversation, and understand,” she replied.
Kathy was right. For each time I pull out my grandma’s big, cast iron skillet to cook supper for my own little family, I think about those potatoes. I think about how serving others, giving of your time, energy, and yes, even your life, is the most sincere form of love.
“Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13, KJV
|The three oldest grandkids: my cousin Cassie, myself, my aunt, and my sister Maggie. I don't have a picture of each of my other cousins, but they are all cuties!|