A while back my family started working on our family tree. I get obsessed with things, and learning about my family history was something that I easily became obsessed with. But, I learned really fast that I had a lot my “facts” wrong. Even things as simple as where my grandfather was born. I learned all this by talking to my grandmother. It made me realize that I didn’t want to tell my family story wrong. And if I’m being honest, the best person to start telling my family’s story is my grandmother.
I called my grandmother to make sure that she would be ok with me “interviewing” her and writing everything down. She told me that it would be ok, but not on Sunday’s because she would be at church, and not Tuesdays, because that’s her old ladies day. Any other day would be fine but, she didn’t really know what kind of stories I wanted her to tell me. Really, I have no clue… I want to hear it all.
It took a few days, but I finally made it to my Mamaw’s house. My Aunt Lorey was just leaving. My Aunt told me that Mamaw was excited to talk with me, but was a little worried I would put her on “The Google.” My sweet grandmother doesn’t have internet and has no idea what “the google” is. After we explained it a little bit, she decided that “the google” was like a dictionary, and that would be ok.
We headed inside and got started right away. She decided that she would tell me why she is so blessed. It’s mainly an overview of her life growing up. She also told me about meeting my grandfather, but I think that their love story should be its own post.
Mamaw was born in Chula, Georgia. She lived there with her mom, dad, and two older brothers. Her father worked in the turpentine business and they lived on his bosses property. He worked six days a week and preached on Sundays. When Mamaw was a year old her mother passed away.
Because her father was away so often, Mamaw’s father took her to live with his parents, in Ocilla, GA on a tobacco farm. Her middle brother (who was three at the time), went to live with the other grandmother (Grandma Thompson), and her older brother (James) stayed with her father since he was eight and was in school.
In the summer time, when the crops were really busy, Mamaw’s grandmother took her on the train to Miami, FL to stay with her aunt and her husband. Once things slowed down she would head back to Ocilla.
When Mamaw was four, her father got remarried to a teacher in Chula (I have always know her as Mamaw Green). After a time all the children came back to live with them, and the family moved to Sycamore, GA.
The school eventually burned down and school was held in different houses. Mamaw Green’s brother and sister-in-law (Mamaw Dess) offered to have my grandmother stay with them in Athens, GA, so that my grandmother could attend school. Mamaw stayed with them for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade. Mamaw Dess was good to her and really was like a mother.
Once Mamaw started high school, her father insisted that she return home and finish school in Sycamore. As soon as summer break started Mamaw would hope on a Greyhound Bus and travel back to Athens to spend her summer with Mamaw Dess.
When she finished school around the age of 16, her father told her she could go to college wherever she wanted to. She decided to go school in North Carolina, and headed off to Mars Hill University with her best friend. After a while they decided to swap majors from business to nursing, and decided to go to Georgia Baptist Hospital.
After this point Mamaw added in my Papaw, so I’ll write about that next time.
I learned a few things after sitting down with my grandmother…
1. I love to hear her tell stories. Even when she isn’t sure what to say next.
2. Mamaw doesn’t give a lot of names… remember to ask for them.
3. Don’t turn off the recording when she tells you she is done with her story for the night… she isn’t done and you will miss some of the best parts.
4. I hate the way my voice sounds recored… talk less, listen more.