Roses and Words

From the Lodge……..there is no smile kinder, no hug warmer, no kiss sweeter or no lap softer, than a grandmother’s. I had only a few years with my grandmother.

My mother, brother and I moved into the big family home on Dixie Highway when I was about four and my grandmother passed away when I was almost seven. I have only a few poignant memories from those early years. I was not happy about moving into the big house. I had lived in a little three room shotgun cottage where you could stand in any room and see where everyone was. At Grandmother’s there were some rooms that went straight back but there were also rooms to the right and rooms to the left, and an outside covered walkway that led to a summer kitchen and bedrooms. I knew I could get lost in that house and be lost for days and not be found and it scared me. As luck would have it I soon became acquainted with every nook and cranny and grew to love the family home.

The first night after we moved in she must have sensed that I was uneasy and she asked if I would like to sleep with her in her huge feather bed. Of course I said yes. When it came time for bed I watched light her coal oil lamp and then go from window to window and close the green shutters and hook them together. Then she turned the wick in the lamp down low and set it on a shelf over the fire place. Every room had a fireplace, a mantel with shelves and a place for a coal oil lamp.

The back yard was in two large sections separated by a picket fence. The first yard was almost entirely covered with grandmother’s rose garden. She had laid brick walkways between each row so she could sit on a stool and move among the bushes and care for them. She cut very few roses – she felt they needed to be nurtured by nature and not cut off and placed in vases. Each day or so she would gather the pedals that were ready to fall. She put them in a large cup and she would grind them by hand with a pestle for hours until they were fine as dust. Then she added very fine sifted cornstarch. When mixed together good she added some kind of oil with an eye dropper and mixed that in, sealed it all in a jar and dated it. She said that was her talcum powder for the months ahead. Even to this day, so many years later, if I come into contact with roses and the scent wafts across my face, I am sitting in that back yard rose garden with her.

One thing I shall never forget. I was telling her my Sunday school teacher said we should start reading the bible as soon as we could read well. Grandmother said “Well, you can read the bible later on when you can understand what you are reading but the first book you should read is the dictionary.” I thought that was strange. She explained that you need to learn words and that will open the world to you. She said “I still have my first dictionary and we will start tomorrow.” Sure enough, the next day she got out her early edition of a Child’s Dictionary and we started the lessons. She explained that you see the word, learn how to pronounce it, spell it and use it in a sentence, all from this book. I know this must have instilled the love of words I have in me. That was my summer vacation lesson of 1930.

This writing is short but so was my time with my grandmother, Elizabeth Caroline Uhl.


One thought on “Roses and Words

  1. Aunt June: What a sweet story and memory. I only hope my grandchildren will have some sweet memories of me.

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