I have two objects that my grandmother Cash left to me. They may seem like an odd pair of things, but to me they are perfect in the way they keep her alive for me.
The first is a china cup. It appears to be from a collection, this one is decorated with chrysanthemums and says “November”
It was marked “BC” on the bottom, she had chosen a number of articles and marked them for distribution before her death. Many people in the family were born in November, but she chose to give this to me. I’m told that as a child I was fascinated with the cup, although it is so delicate I can’t imagine allowing a child to handle it.
My grandmother was a physically small woman, but I would never describe her as “frail”. She worked in her garden every day, and that might give the wrong impression also. Her garden consisted of several terraces descending from her home to the lake, hundreds of square feet, in addition to her vegetable garden, which was easily half an acre. She also had fruit trees and a small pecan grove.
She canned what she and my grandfather didn’t eat or trade, there wasn’t much that she purchased at the grocery store. What she didn’t grow someone else did, and she traded for eggs and other things as well. Most of their meat was from my grandfather’s hunting and fishing, I don’t think they kept any beef from his cattle. The freezer was always full, and there are probably still preserves in the garage, which was lined with shelves.
She was always working, and always smiling. When her health started to decline, it was initiated by a fall in which she broke her hip. She had osteoporosis and her bones were brittle, but she didn’t bother with doctors so even if she had known it wouldn’t have slowed her down. The inactivity of her convalescence is what I think really killed her.
The other item I have from her is a cast iron pan for corn bread rolls.
I loved my grandmother’s cornbread, although the closest I ever came to cooking with her was making Malt-o-meal. She taught me how to cook, and that might sound strange since we didn’t cook together. She taught me what Emma taught me and Carla Hall taught me. The most important ingredient is love. I’ve made cornbread in this pan a few times, most recently for my step son. He rarely pays compliments, so I was surprised when he spoke about it. She imparted so much love into that pan it still affects the cornbread, I had only used a mix that night.
The pan is heavy, and it reminds me of my grandmother’s strength. The cup is delicate and it reminds me of her soul. The fact that two simple objects could convey so much of her speaks to her simplicity. Grand daddy was the story teller, grand mommy was a woman of few words, they both touched many lives deeply.