25 January 2006


Today is the 100th anniversary of my grandmother's birth. Thelma Mildred Linkous was born in Huntington, West Virginia in the cold of winter. But she was not cold in her spirit. To me, she personified the very symbols of warmth; home, hearth, love and family. Another trait I associate with her is strength. She came from salt-of -the-earth people. She was raised to believe that the only book worth reading was the Bible and the only music worth listening to were church hymns. She never showed an over-abundance of emotion, even when she lost the love of her life, my grandfather, her husband of 49 years. But her love for me was unmistakable.

She married in the 20s. And as was the fashion of those days, she bobbed her hair. She never smoked and disapproved of liquor. She raised children through the depression and when those children went off to school she found work as a secretary in the elementary school, that my mother attended. She was a practical woman with a keen sense of beauty. She never left the house without donning clip-on earings. She wore a modest amount of make-up. Her nails were always polished, often in a dark red hue.

I remember running through her immaculate house, swinging on the porch swing on humid Virginia summer afternoons, eating delicious Sunday dinners, sleeping on starched white sheets. She could sew an outfit for me to match one of my mother's or her own. She crocheted doilies and handkerchiefs and afgans. She said words like chifforobe and davenport. She took me to Sunday School. And afterwards, when I got to go into the "big church" she'd always have a pencil and paper for me if I got restless, or a soft lap of muskrat to lay my head upon if I got tired. If I scraped my knee, there was always a squirt of Bactine and a kiss and a pat on my head to run along and play again. There were Saturday night baths in a claw-foot tub. After which she'd pincurl my too-straight hair, wrapping it carefully around her finger and pinning it to dry into a style that was more in step with the rest of my curly headed cousins. There was Lawrence Welk.

She was brought up in a time that was less tolerant of races "mixing", though she was never ungenerous or unkind. But when her grand-daughter wanted her first phonograph album, The Jackson Five's Greatest Hits, she did not hestitate to make that wish come true.

She was the best grandmother a girl could hope for. She is the example by which I hope to emulate for my own grandchild. She is my comforter, even today. I love you, Memaw. I miss you.


Mhari said...

I love the old pic of her. Really sweet to hear about your wonderful grandmother.

Buffy said...

I love this post.