Thursday, June 9, 2005

Close to Nowhere
By Linda Jones

Roses and cornbread

Mammaw’s funeral was perfect. I’m quite sure she was looking down at us Thursday and saying “Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted.”

There was laughter amidst the tears and the church was packed. The flowers were beautiful and her granddaughter Amanda and her best friend sang “Beulah Land;” along with other wonderful music by friends and loved ones.

Mammaw (Inez Collins) and I shared grandchildren and over the years, Mammaw and I became very close. We were not related by blood, but, as a friend of mine oftens says “she was related by heart.”

All the preachers that spoke Thursday remembered her with love and joy and often had those of us present laughing — especially when telling Pappaw (J.C.) that he was the thorn to Mammaw’s rose.

J.C. and Inez had been married 62 years and the ten plus that I’ve known them have been good years; although, as all of us do — they have endured their share of sorrows.

Mammaw and Pappaw buried a son when he was 25. Jerry Collins was killed in a auto accident on New Year’s Day. That day was also the second birthday of his son Jason, who, down the road, was to become our son-in-law and the father of our grandchildren.

About six months ago, they buried a grandson who was not quite 30 — Danny Collins died in another tragic, senseless accident.

But Mammaw and Pappaw have also had an extraordinary amount of joy and love in their life together.

Their son Jim is not only a good man, he’s a talented musician and singer; his wife Carolyn is a wonderful person and his children and grandchildren are all close to their grandparents.

Then there are the grandchildren I know best — the ones we share — Meredith and Remy, our daughter’s and Jason’s children.

When I first met Mammaw and Pappaw, I knew I was going to love them and I was right. And the older our grandchildren got, the better it got.

If we missed too long a time going to visit in Bruce, the Binkster and Gremlin would begin to pout and complain — we need to see Mammaw and Pappaw! Now!

You never went in Mammaw’s house without being told to sit down and eat! A wonderful “country” cook, her table was always laden with vegetables and desserts, assorted casseroles, soups, stews and other goodies.

I’d pass up a lot of things to eat Mammaw’s potato soup over her cornbread with butterbeans on the side (according to the Binkster and Pappaw, always “butter” never, ever “lima”). And her peach cobbler — words don’t describe adequately!

At around four-years-old or so, the Gremlin, while grabbing a chunk of warm cornbread, informed Pappaw that “good cornbread was hard to come by!”

The Gremlin was a devoted fan of Mammaw’s cornbread. A shy, somewhat reticent child, Gremlin doesn’t mix with people comfortably. Mammaw wasn’t “people” though — she was Mammaw!

One of Gremlin’s favorite things was to be in the kitchen with Inez while she was finishing up a Saturday feast. Grem would sing to her and talk almost non-stop. Mammaw was also just about the only person Grem would talk with on the telephone.

As a child, I grew up without close grandparents and watching our two grandchildren enjoy the love and security with Mammaw and Pappaw has been wonderful. There’s just not much better than that sort of relationship. J.C. and Inez deeply loved all their grandchildren and are/were loved in return.

Thursday at Mammaw’s funeral, the Binkster and Gremlin were tearful and sad. We’ve assured them that in time, it will be a pleasure to remember Mammaw and all the love and cornbread she offered everyone.

Mammaw’s preacher compared Mammaw to a rose and said her spirit was as beautiful, tough and sweet-smelling. He compared her several times to the sweet smell of a rose.

Gremlin took exception to this — she poked me in the side, leaned over and whispered indignantly — “She did not (smell like a rose) — she smelled like cornbread!”

Our two grandchildren have already planned future visits to Pappaw. “They” plan making Saturday lunches for him now — cornbread, macaroni and cheese and butterbeans. And of course, peach cobbler.

As long as they have wonderful memories of Mammaw (and the smell of cornbread), Mammaw’s family will still have Mammaw — love remains in the heart.

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