November 20, 2020

Precious Memories and Wrinkled Hands

By Charles D. Williams, MD, FACR

I was layin’ on the back porch with my toes up in the air, callin’ the dogs, drinkin’ iced tea from my wife’s finest crystal and reflectin’ on our grandkids when I remembered that a special gift of my childhood was my grandma and the special memories and lessons she left behind. She once told me that someday, I would bundle up all my yesterdays and head for tomorrow. But it would be the memories of my yesterdays that would get me through my tomorrows.

Grandma passed on, but I’m so glad she passed my way. The only thangs she had to pass on to Pedro (her nickname for me) were her memories.

Grandma touched a part of my life that can only be handed down in stories. She used her stories to teach us about life. It didn’t come from books on parenting. It came from her mama who learned it from her mama. It was not always what she said with her mouth but what I felt from her heart and saw in her eyes. For many of us, the old times were the best of times, or at least it seems that way.

Grandma and I spent time catchin’ lightenin’ bugs, making homemade ice cream in a hand-cranked churn and spittin’ watermelon seeds off the front porch, but my most favorite memories were when we went walkin’ and talkin’. She would reach down with her strong but wrinkled hands, which were like dried apples, and say, “Pedro, I want to spend some time with you. Let’s go walkin’.”

Back when Pedro was still wet behind the ears and littler’n most folks his age, he and grandma would walk down the long dirt road to fetch mail from a rusty tin mailbox, which had some of our last name spelt rite.

Some folks said that we lived so far back between Moultrie and Doerun that we got the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry on Tuesdays. They were teasin’, I think. I do know that we got the Saturday paper on Tuesdays.

As we walked, grandma said it was okay to be little, but I might need to run twice as fast to keep up. She also said that no tree gits too tall that a short dog cain’t tee-tee on it, and a person shouldn’t git too big for their britches.

Another most favorite time would be our journeys through the garden. We walked past the corn fields as grandma talked with a twinkle in her eyes and a joy in her heart. She could rip an ear of corn from the stalk, clean and strip the husk from each ear, and toss it in a basket.

As we walked and grandma talked, she said to watch out for snakes, but most of the time they were scareder of us than we was of them. I couldn’t imagine anything that scared. She told young Pedro to go off to college, git educated and git a dilemma, and he did just that ... but it has taken him a long time to git over it.

Even when communication became worldwide and instantaneous from way far off, nothing could beat goin’ home and holdin’ grandma’s hand and lookin’ her in the eyes. She gave me such precious memories, a gift she rendered unknowingly or perhaps she did know; maybe that’s why she took the time.

Recently my grandson was visitin’ and I took him for a short walk to the mailbox. I started tellin’ him to wash behind his neck, study hard in school and keep on the sunny side of life. As I was holdin’ his hand, I felt a twinkle in my eye, looked down and noticed a few wrinkles on my hand.

A chill set in my body and wetness set in my eyes. I then remembered that the memories grandma left behind were the only thangs that her death didn’t take away. I turned to my grandson and said, “You’re a special little man. Let’s go for a long walk.”

When the day ended, I leaned back in my rockin’ chair, closed my eyes and heard grandma sing “Precious Memories (how they linger).”

I must have fallen asleep, I think.