Today would have been Carrie's birthday. Carrie was my paternal grandmother. She was a mother to three and a wife to Joseph Washington Tate. Carrie was married at 16 or 17 yrs old which was common for those times. She moved a short distance from her family's home to her new husbands' home and stayed there all her life.
Grandmother whom we called Nana, was a short, not always rotund lady with merry blue eyes and silver crinkly hair. Her hair wasn't always silver and I remember when she used our friend Lady Clairol to reestablish the color of her youth. I didn't know the young Nana. The one that owned a red velvet sidesaddle; the one that rode the most spirited horse and was known throughout the country as an excellent horsewoman. I didn't know the petite, svelte young dark haired beauty except for the old photos I would see of her. I'm sure she was still there somewhere but as with all of us, those memories and self snapshots get pushed to the rear as life with children and responsibilities, burdens and coping lap into the present and future. I loved the Nana I knew.
The road to Nana's house was unpaved, ungraveled and little more then a narrow path which started about 2 miles from the main road and wound round and round and up and up. Nana's house was at the most "up" part of the property. There were numerous gates to open and close, hills, curves and ruts to navigate to finally arrive at Nana's. From the curves on the way there, you could catch glimpses of the house sitting on the highest point and you knew Nana was watching that road for the first signs of our arrival. She loved having her grandchildren visit.
Weekends Nana usually had fried chicken, thick gravy for the mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and peas and biscuits and butter and jelly. I can remember her and her daughter in laws all in the kitchen preparing the Sunday meal. The children were served their food and then the adults sat together for their meal. I don't remember cleaning up after the meal so I must have been too young or else there were so many daughter in laws there that the children were left to play with their cousins outside.
I don't remember my grandmother ever being angry with us. We spent lots of time with her during summer school vacation. There was always one or two spending their summer vacation with her and Grandpa. I remember the walks we took every afternoon. I remember the sound of her feet crunching the small rocks in the road as we walked. That sound is what I remember from those walks.
We worked in the gardens and picked fresh vegetables for our meals. Nana never really made us work. We picked just enough vegetables for the meal we were having. I remember sitting with her and hulling peas or peeling potatoes. It never felt like a chore.
We took a nap every afternoon. I would lie alongside my grandmother on the sofa as she watched "As The World Turns" and both of us would drift off to sleep. I slept with my head on her stomach listening to all the gurgling sounds; sounds I would pretend were musical.
I have memories in bits and pieces; some clear and some wrapped in gauze. Today is Nana's birthday and each year I remember that clearly.