Most of us do not remember all of our grandparents. Some passed away before we were even born. I do remember three of my grandparents and here is what I remember.
Elihu Frank Addison was my motherís father. I remember him as a stern disciplinarian and a hard worker on farm and in the coal mine. I remember nights when I would stay at his house and my cousin Ellis would be there. Boys will sometimes tell crazy stories and begin to giggle, we were no exception. Grandpa would show up with the razor strop and swat us a pretty good wallop and that would end our loud giggles and outbursts. Grandpa always was up in the morning as the roosters began to crow, so he had no time for our foolishness.
My motherís mother, Lou Evelyn ďLouĒ Davis Addison, was remembered as a great cook, a gentle soul who had great faith in her Creator. I remember her wonderful large biscuits that she made each morning, along with bacon, eggs, and tomatoes if in season. Sometimes she would fry pork tenderloin and this would be a special treat for all those around the large eating table. The gravies she made were like nectar. I especially remember her apple butter. Following is a true reminisce about a gift I received from her one morning when I was gravely ill.
Two of my uncles would come by our house in the mornings to catch the school bus to go to either Grimsleyville Elementary or to Garden High School at Oakwood, Virginia. On that particular morning, they came by with a brown bag from Grandma Addison saying that it was a gift for Frankie. She had heard that I was sick, probably with the measles or chicken pox, and that I was having a pretty hard time of it. Grandma, knowing my love for her apple butter, sent me a whole quart of the delicious concoction and designated it as my very own. You can bet that I guarded that quart of apple butter with all my might. My momís buttery biscuits became a special treat, tasting like apple pie, as I consumed that special treat in the days to come.
Grandma Addison bore twelve children in all and went to meet her Maker at a pretty young age. It was an act of mercy for God to take her home. She had some type of rare disease that kept deteriorating her leg. I can remember seeing her suffer as she continued trying to run the house, and especially the kitchen. I carried many armfuls of wood in to her to keep the old woodstove going! When she passed away, I remember playing up on the ridge above their house at night with some cousins, there was a full moon shining, making it almost like playing in the daylight! All her grandchildren loved her.
Grandma Eva McGlothlin Shortt was a very unique lady if there ever was one. Grandpa Shortt died, under dire circumstances, at an early age leaving Grandma with a houseful of children to rear alone. Before he died Grandpa would sometimes come home under the influence of moonshine and run the whole family out into the night. He was very abusive, especially to Grandma. One time he even poured a boiling pot of coffee on her arm just because she was slow in getting a cup to him. Before Grandpa had a nervous breakdown he was acclaimed to be one of the nicest fellows around. (But thatís another story)
Because my dad was accused of being one of the chief causes of Grandpaís death, he became responsible for helping out at Grandmaís house as much as he was able. He had his own growing family to attend to, as well as, his siblings. How Grandma raised all the other children is a true mystery that no one has been able to solve. She was tight fisted with a buck and she saved everything she could in order to provide for her children. Yet, she found time for her grandchildren. I used to love going to her house, especially in the mornings when she would make chocolate gravy. She never seemed to have much of anything in the way of worldly goods, but she would never let anyone leave without offering what little she had in the way of food. As the boys grew older they learned to hunt and would bring in wild game of all sorts. Grandma would cook anything they brought in and had dressed out to cook. I do not ever remember if she cooked an opossum!
Grandma Shorttís sense of humor was what carried her through! She would play Irish tricks on all the children in the neighborhood. I remember one time especially when my brother, Wendell, and I were going to the store for our mother when, all at once, we were confronted with a grotesque being whose features had been altered with an old nylon stocking as we learned later. It was Grandma pulling one of her many pranks. I suppose that I remember her more than the other grandparents as we only lived a short distance around the hill from her. Her home was like our home and our home was like her home.
One more incident bears telling! One summer my uncle Ellis came down to the hills from his home in Washington, DC bringing along his new wife. She in turn brought along her father who was visiting from Chile. Her father was, we learned later, a very famous artist in Chile paid by the government to teach others the art of painting. As things progressed, Grandma was pretty skeptical about the whole matter of Ellis bringing Ďan old maní along uninvited. In truth, he was probably younger than Grandma. After they left, her summation was, ďAll he did was walk around the hills writing (sketching) something on a paper. He might have been a spy for all I know!Ē This was Grandma Shortt!
When she was placed in a nursing home in her last years, anyone who visited her was welcomed to her new home and made to feel that she was happier than she had ever been. The nursing home was a better place because of her presence. She died still saying that she loved Grandpa Shortt with all her heart! Thatís true love!