Grandma Mellie's Scrapbook
Copyright © 2001, Michael S. Cole, M.D.

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Remembering Grandma

    Autumn is almost gone, winter is just around the corner. The trees have not been as colorful this fall as in times past, but the maples were gorgeous.
    I'm reminded of my grandma when fall is here. She said fall made her sad--leaves dying, all vegetation turning brown, birds stop their singing, winter just ahead. Like Longfellow's poem, she would say, "The days are cold and dark and dreary. It rains and the wind is never weary."
    If it was a bad night, she would say, "It's a bad night for hired hands and travelers."
    While I'm thinking of grandma, I'll wander down memory lane to her house. She was the most unforgettable character I have ever known. A very gracious lady.
    She loved her grandchildren and each fall she would take us to the woods to hunt nuts--walnuts, hickory nuts, hazelnuts, and chinquapins. The two last named, I never see any more, although they used to grow abundantly here.
    We learned much about nature during those walks. She taught us the names of wild flowers and would tell us which herbs were used for medicine. She used many in her home remedies. Grandma had a vast sense of humor, but nevertheless, we were taught good manners and respect for our elders.
    She didn't like for us to climb trees. It wasn't lady-like, she said. She had some queer sayings, too. I don't think she believed all of them, yet it made a lasting impression on us.
    She would say, "A whistling girl and a crowing hen always come to some bad end." Oh! how I loved to whistle, and I love to now. But then, I was afraid I might come to some bad end. Well, that didn't happen and now that I'm older, I enjoy my whistling.
    Grandma had other sayings--That if one's nose itched, company was coming. And a sure sign was if a rooster crowed in the door, company would sure arrive. If we saw a redbird, we would see someone we were not expecting. She wouldn't let us carry a hoe or an ax through the house, for something dire would be sure to happen.
    She would not wear a thimble on her finger or sew on Sunday. But when the sun went down, she said the Sabbath was over. She had a way of predicting the weather--if it rained on Monday, it would rain two more days in the week. And if a rooster crowed at midnight, it was a sure sign of bad weather.
    I never knew my grandfather. He died when my mother was nine years old. He gave her a china-headed doll and it is still in the family, "Old Lucy" we call her, for she is 80 years old.
    We lived near my grandma's home and I remember one time my mother had gone down there. I was very young and it was getting dusky dark. The "peepers" were hollering, and Papa made the remark that if she didn't hurry home, the frogs would get her. To this day when I hear the "peepers" I think of what he said.
    My son owns grandma's old home place and has built a beautiful new home. When I see my granddaughter playing where I used to play, I get homesick for those days when I was a happy, carefree girl.
    Now, I am a grandmother. Yes, and a great-grandmother, too, in the autumn of life, and I know now why the fall made my grandmother so sad. And I think of, "Backward, turn backward, oh, time in your flight. Make me a child again just for tonight."

Mellie Peery
November 12, 1965

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