( Intermediate Level )
Lillie Mae Crenshaw, the baby of her family, at age ninety five, was the last surviving sibling to a family of 10. With three brothers and four sisters, there was never a dull moment in their house.
With her fast approaching ninety sixth birthday coming, she sits under her favorite tree at her parent’s home and reminisces about her childhood.
They lived in the small hand – built home in Madison, Georgia. Her parents were simple people. Neither of them finished school. In those days, it was more important to help their families.
Her mom would wash people’s clothes and sell home- grown vegetables at the local market that they grew on their land just to earn a little money.
Her dad, on the other hand, hunted deer, squirrels, elk and even fished for crawdads, catfish and turtles. He would sell these to local families so they would have enough meat for the year.
When the children were old enough to help they did.. Her brothers learned to shoot rifles at age ten. “If you can hold the rifle up to your shoulder and pull the trigger, then you’re old enough,” her dad would say.
Lillie Mae thought differently from her sisters. She didn’t want to do what her mom and her sisters did. She was a tomboy after all. She hated wearing those silly dresses her mom would make for all her sisters. Instead, she loved bibbed overalls with all those pockets.
She loved being outdoors and wanted to be like her brothers. She wanted to hunt. If she could spend all day outside then this is what she wanted.
“Girls belong inside,” her dad would say, “leave the hunting and fishing to us men.” Her brothers would smile when he said this which made her more determined to prove herself.
Her father passed away when she was fifteen and two of her brothers had moved away leaving her one brother and sisters to care for mom and the home. It was tough but somehow they managed.
It was but two years and her last brother married and moved away. Her two sisters left within five years from dad’s passing leaving the burden of the responsibilities to her.
Mom couldn’t do much anymore. She was older and her body ached. Lillie Mae did what she could over the next few years for her until she passed.
Lillie Mae stayed on at the old homestead.. There were too many fond memories here to just up and leave.
Unfortunately, Lillie Mae never married or had children. She had been too busy in her years to socialize and meet people.
Now that it is just her, she has joined the local Southern Baptist Church in town. Every Sunday, like clockwork, she was there. She met many wonderful people there who adopted her into their families as their own.
Many of the children called her Me Ma or Na Na as their way to show respect. Grandmother is what she figured these words meant. Many Sundays she stayed after services to give the children cookies that she had baked the previous week.
Sometimes she was invited to someone’s house for an afternoon dinner. It was common to have the biggest meal of the day at two on Sundays. She gladly accepted most of the times she was asked.
One of the parishioners discovered Lillie Mae’s birthday was next Sunday. She wanted to keep this to herself but the word quickly spread to others . They all decided that next week’s service would be dedicated to her and her milestones in life.
That week was uneventful. Lillie Mae went about her normal daily chores. It was just her so her garden was much smaller than it used to be. She had a few chickens which provided daily eggs and sometimes fresh meat for a soup.
Lillie Mae moved slower now like her mom had done before she passed. She knew the end would soon come. Until then she would continue living life to the fullest.
If only her dad saw how independent she had become. She was able to provide for the family as he did when they were still around.
She wasn’t the marksman with the rifle as her dad was but she was able to get the job done. She believes that he does see what a strong person she had become and he sits there smiling from ear to ear.
Sunday morning’s sunshine beamed through the living room window as if it was a spotlight for just Lillie Mae. Today she turns ninety six. She walked outside and stood on the porch to hear the morning birds chirping in the trees.
As she stood there drinking her morning tea she thought, “Will I be remembered? She didn’t have children or grandchildren so who would remember her? “Who will tell my stories?”
She shrugged off the thought as she went back into the house to have a light breakfast. Today they would have a luncheon right after service, in the recreational hall, to celebrate her birthday.
With breakfast done she went to clean up for church. Today she would wear a pale blue dress with hundreds of white daisies on it. She laughed as she looked at herself in the mirror. “If momma could see me now!“
She had a short walk into town. Usually it took about twenty minutes or so, if she cut through the fields, but now it takes about thirty minutes or more.
People said they would stop by and pick her up but she politely refused each time. She loved walking and enjoying being outdoors when she could.
The temperatures in late fall and winter kept her indoors and she hated it. The cold weather bothered her more and more as she grew older.’
She arrived at the church with everyone still outside visiting with each other. As she approached the children came running. “Happy Birthday Me Ma! Happy Birthday Na Na!, they chanted.
“How old are you today, Miss Me Ma?” She looked at the little blonde hair girl. “I am ninety six today. “ “Oh,” she exclaimed, “That’s old!” Then she ran off to be with her parents.
She smiled to herself as she thought how innocent children are. She barely remembers those days.
She finally reached the group standing together as the adults greeted her, one by one, “Don’t you look beautiful today.” “Happy Birthday Miss Lillie Mae.”
Sunday services ended and the luncheon began. A special table at the front of the recreational hall was set for the guest of honor.
On the left side of the table was the most beautiful cake she ever laid eyes on. It was a three tiered white cake decorated with tiny roses, her favorite flower.
Many cards, gifts and baked goods sat around the cake. One gift caught her eye. It was a photo album filled with pictures of everyone. In the very front was a black and white photo of her entire family taken years ago. All ten of them.
As she looked at each member of her family her heart filled with so many memories. The arguments with her sisters. Trying to do what her brothers did and proving to her father she can do anything.
“”Where on earth did you find this picture? She laid the album down on the table and looked up. The congregation was quietly looking at her with love in their eyes. ” I guess I will be remembered! “
“Thank you everyone for making me feel special.” Everyone clapped and they started serving the food. This surely would be a birthday she would remember for, hopefully, years to come.
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Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts to Pen
Thoughts From Angel:
One of the things I love the most is to sit down with an older person and have them share their childhood memories with me.
If you appreciate what I do and would like to support me:
surviving – adjective: continuing to exist
reminisces – verb: thinking of past events
crawdads – noun: freshwater crayfish
tomboy – noun: a girl who enjoys rough, noisy activities associated with boys
bibbed overalls – noun: a piece of clothing that are trousers with an extra piece of cloth covering the chest, held up by narrow pieces of cloth over the shoulders.
determined – adjective: a firm decision
responsibilities – noun: being responsible
just up and leave – idiom: To do something quickly, unexpectedly, or abruptly, especially without warning or explanation
socialize – verb: participate in social activities; mix socially with others
respect – noun: deep admiration for someone or something
parishioners -noun: those who attend a particular church
milestones – noun: an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development
chores – noun: routine task (s)
independent – adjective: free from outside control
marksman – noun: a person skilled in shooting
beamed – verb: shine brightly
luncheon – noun: a formal lunch
clean up – phrasal verb: make someone or something clean or neat
politely – adverb: in a respectful and considerate manner
the guest of honor -phrase: important guest at an occasion
tiered – adjective: having a number of levels on top of one another
congregation – noun: a group of people assembled for religious worship
Question ( s ):
Have you heard stories from your grandparents regarding their childhood?
Could you live back then? ( Living simple without the modern conveniences )