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Pa Jim and Granny Rose: Rock Solid Ancestors Build Strong Foundation for Family Values
Who is that tenacious couple in the sepia photographs? When I first saw them, I thought how strong and determined they looked. Later I would learn that indeed, they were. I was told that these were pictures of my maternal great grandparents, Pa Jim and Granny Rose.
How I admired the affectionate names that the grandchildren had given them. The photos were so well-preserved. As I stared at their images I could almost feel them staring back. This made me want to hear the sound of Pa Jim’s voice, tinged with that musical southern accent flavored with sweet tea and a little “nip” for good measure. And, I imagined the warm, cushy hug of my Granny Rose, who’d pull you into a sweet embrace that she reserved for favorite people, not just family. I knew right then and there that I loved them.
"All Doodied Up"
The picture-taking day sure must have been a special occasion for Pa Jim to get all doodied up in his church suit and felt hat. There was Granny Rose wearing her Sunday-go-to-meeting dress and her clustered earbobs. I don’t know if they said “Cheese” back then, but Pa Jim didn’t crack a smile. Just take me like I am, seemed to be his mood of the day. Through the photograph, I tried to connect to them in a way that only family can. They were my blood. If not for them, I wouldn’t be here to record this memoir.
I reached deep into my memory but couldn’t find Pa Jim there. He had passed away before I was old enough to realize his impact as a great grandpa. I know that he and Granny Rose lived the farm life, tilling the land and coaxing the fruits and vegetables to grow. Then there were the cows to milk, hogs to feed, and no doubt chickens in the coop. I know they took great pride in what they produced and in the fact that they were able to provide for all 11 children that they bore.
I vaguely remember traveling to the “home house” long years ago. Our Granny Rose was still alive then. It took a long car trip and a caravan of cars to get all the family members from our small town out to the “country.” The journey was guaranteed to make me carsick, as pretty much any car trip did back then. My relatives subjected me to every known and made-up “cure” for motion sickness, but nothing worked. I even tried skipping breakfast, which was hard to do since Mama would make those homemade biscuits stuffed with country ham, eggs and a gob of grape jelly. The most notorious non-cure that my daddy came up with was to fold a page of newspaper and stuff it under my shirt. Needless to say, it didn’t prevent that familiar stop by the roadside to "call Earl."
Running In the Red Dirt
At the home house, we children ran free. It was just us and the great outdoors; no electronics, cellphones and such, just a good ole time laughing and running in the red dirt till we dropped. Some of the older boys would be eyeing our beautiful country cousins, only to be warned that they were “kin.” Granny Rose would have been in the kitchen helping the ladies prepare a down-home feast. Though I can’t recall her face in person, I remember the printed apron she wore and how she used it to wipe her hands as she cooked. When it was time to eat, someone handed me a plate of collard greens from the garden and a slab of freshly-prepared pork. But, feeling sorry for the pig I saw in the pen, I just poked at the meat that day. It’s funny which childhood recollections stick out in your mind when you grow older.
As parents, Pa Jim and Granny Rose were stern and smart. They raised their brood well, infusing their children with a work ethic of always giving their best. The “young ‘uns” were given chores to do, with no right of refusal. Any backtalk might result in a piece of kindling to the backside. Just as there was always enough food to go around, there was ample love for everyone. Often children today find themselves wishing for great sums of money and the opportunity to live lavish lifestyles, hobnobbing with the wealthy. But the offspring of Pa Jim and Granny Rose learned early on that they were abundantly rich in all the things that truly mattered in life.
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Pull up the experiences, memories and impressions that you have had stored away for years and consider sharing them with others. You're invited to follow Your Cousins hub as we continue this series of stories exploring family relationships, history and genealogy. You may pick up tips and ideas on launching your own family journey.
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