My Mother's Mom, Margaret Doris Ludwig, was an hoot! She was every bit 'the lady', and a good Christian woman, but when something 'ticked her off', she would often let loose with a volcabulary that could rival a sailor's. (like Cappy's... when he's 'ticked'.) After her husband passed away, she was left with a nine year old daughter (Bev...the same age as I, Peggy) and a teenage son, who left for the Navy. Struggling financially for the next three or four years, it was then decided upon that she would come live with us, because my Dad was also having a difficult time, being a single parent trying to raise my brother and me by himself. On the surface, it might have looked rather strange; the "X-mother-in-law" moving in, but it was the perfect solution for all involved. At the time, my mother was 'out of the picture', and thus, unable to attend to the 'finishing touches' of raising us teenagers. I guess at the time, my brother and I had been running roughshod over our Dad, but when Grandma moved in, she put an abrupt end to that! She had raised five boys and two daughters, so she knew full well how to handle two brats. Three if you count Bev, but, (you ask Bev) Grandma would never believe that. (<:-p) So Bev and I were raised more like sisters. If I really wanted to get under Bev's skin, I'd call her "Auntie-Dear". (But I didn't do that often and we got along great...still do whenever we get to see each other.) I've always been envious that Bev had the benefit of Grandma being in her life, from day one, because Grandma was the most wonderful woman. So much fun, yet so nurturing and loving. When I was four years old and badly burned, I'm told that when they had to daily change my dressing, (which I do remember and never will forget) that everyone could hear my voice echoing through out the halls of the hospital, screaming, "I want my GRANDMA!!!" She said she just couldn't take it anymore, so, she had to leave when they did that.
I had always loved my Grandma, and loved it when I could spend time at her house. It just so happened that I was at her house when I was burned. (My dress had caught fire on an old-fashioned hot water heater.) I'm sure that her fervant prayers helped pull me through, even after the doctors had given up on me and left me in the back hall of the hospital to die.
So years later, when she came to live with us, she loved us too much to let my brother and me act the way we had been doing. She made sure our butts were sitting in church right next to her. She reinforced the table manners that our Mom had begun to teach us. She taught us responsibilty. And above all, she taught us to act respectably in public. That included dressing well for the occasion. Her purses always matched her shoes, which were neat and tidy. She took pride in the fact that someone had mentioned to her, "You always look nice and dress so well....even for a large woman". Which she was . It seems most of the women in our family are "large". Sighhh. One thing I learned from her that means the most to me, to this day; whenever we left the house, she'd inspect how we looked, but more importantly, she'd expect a warm hug and kiss on the cheek. When we returned, she'd expect the same. I love that. I instilled that in my kids, too, because it's what she taught us, and it's her heritage. I'll bet all her grandchildren in my cousin's families do the same.
Today, being Mothers' Day, of course I remember Mama, as I do every day. I love my mother dearly and miss her every single day that I'm without her and will, no doubt, until I see her again, in Heaven, if I'm found worthy to be there. But today, I'm remembering Grandma, because it's Sunday...church day, and a couple of occasions popped into mind of the many, many times she took us to special meetings, besides regular church. She'd even take us to revival meetings. Bev and I really didn't like going to them. We'd be sitting there giggling and sure enough, somebody would try to drag us to the altar and force us to "give our hearts to the Lord and get saved". (It wouldn't be Grandma, tho'...she never preached; she lived her life the way the Lord taught us.)
I said she was fun. Sometimes, she'd even get in on our giggling. There was one family at church, who were so stiff and rigid...kinda like the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live years ago. Pursed lips, 'needle' butt, as I like to say. (hah...I tend to be like that myself sometimes). One evening, their teenaged son sat directly in front of us, sitting up as straight as an arrow, every single hair slicked down...tight! Well, except for two of them. They made a perfect "V" on top of his head. We sat there for quite awhile staring at his head. The two hairs rebelling against conformity. Precisely impeccable...except for.... Finally, I leaned over and whispered to Bev, "I wonder what channel he's watching". So Bev giggled...and so did Grandma in spite of herself. We don't think he 'picked up' on us.
Another memorable "special go to meetin' " night-time service found Bev and me accompanying Grandma, as usual. Sometimes sermons would be so poignant that they would bring tears to Grandma's eyes, at which point she'd daintily pull a tissue from her "decolletage" and lightly dab each eye. To keep us giggly 12 year old girls quiet, she'd often discreetly bring up sticks of yellow-wrapped Wrigley's peppermint gum from the same 'compartment', where she apparently stored many handy things. That seemed to be something that many of the older ladies used to do. She even had a small pocket watch attached to her bra by a little safety pin. Now on the evening in question, the preacher had most everyone's rapt attention,...and for quite awhile. A hush was all around and Grandma was deeply engrossed in the sermon going on, so when Bev whispered and asked for some gum, Grandma distractedly began ferreting things from out of her bosom, all the while keeping her eyes riveted up front, on the pastor. First she pulled up a wad of hankies, which she handed for Bev to hold, then she brought out some round red and white peppermint candies in cellophane wrappers and handed them over toward Bev's lap. Still concentrating on the pulpit, she began pulling out a very long, narrow, dark brown belt, which she had to pull wayyyyy up in the air, this way and that, to completely free it. If Bev and I hadn't been rolling in the pew and snickering so hard Grandma never would have realized what she had been doing. Her arm fully extended over her head, belt in hand, she glared over at us, realized what she was doing, stuffed it into her lap, became immediately mortified and huskily whispered, "How did that get in there??" We wonder what all she might have had stored and would have pulled out if she hadn't noticed us 'misbehaving'. We don't know if anybody else noticed, but...how could they not?? Although the pastor never let on that he saw, how could he not have seen also? We three "girls" spent most of the rest of the sermon stifling giggles. (We probably should have just quietly gotten up and left, but we stayed instead.) Grandma was a pretty cool lady; she could laugh without making a sound, but her belly would shake, giving her away. I can't remember if we ever did get any gum that night. I think we were stuck with the wrapped candy and probably used the hankies to dry our eyes. I think the belt rode home in her purse... (which nicely matched her shoes).