This is my grandmother, Audris.
She was a teacher for 37 1/2 years. I’m on my third year.
So did I.
One of my most prominent memories of Mamaw is her garden. Always big, always growing. And that dirt. That hot red clay dirt. I don’t remember if this is actually one of Mamaw’s gardens–my other grandmother and aunts always kept gardens, too, but in my memory, this is always what it looked and felt like. I keep plants in potting soil planters on my back porch.
She knit this hat for me. It’s bright, very gaudy, and not proportional to my giant toddler head. And it’s exactly my taste. I’ve taught myself to knit, and regret that I didn’t take advantage of Mamaw’s needlework skills before her fingers became too arthritic to hold crochet needles.
He was killed in a hunting accident when my Mom was 10, so I never met him, but I know this about him: he was a pastor, could play any stringed instrument he picked up, encouraged my mother to get all dressed up, then drove her to the mailbox and back after she said she wanted to go somewhere. He was in the Navy during WWII. His nickname was “Red,” because of his red hair and beard. One of my favorite photos of him is one in which he’s dressed as a clown, plucking the strings of a cello.
My grandmother must have loved him deeply, because after he died, she never remarried. I don’t even know if she ever even thought about remarrying.
And this I learned about them just today: they were married November 22, 1951, Thanksgiving Day. Dustin and I will be marrying on the same day, exactly 59 years later.
I don’t believe much in fate or predestination, but I can’t help but feel that there was a little something extra guiding our hands with this one. For all the planning we’ve done, the rearranging, the location-changing, the date, November 22nd, has remained constant. It was the day Dustin proposed in 2008, and it’s been marked on our calendars since soon after that.
Mamaw won’t be able to be there at our wedding. Her health is too bad, and the trip is too far. But this, I feel, is some small gesture, a remembrance of the love she’s experienced in her life. I’m honored to inherit her legacy.