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Monday, April 20, 2015

Collard Greens, Hairy Legs and Hog Raisin': A Tribute to My Sweet Granny

It's been one year since we laid my little granny's feeble body to rest. She was so tired and so ready to go home to be at peace forevermore. Her memory and love is still present in her family today because of the great woman she was on this earth. I wrote this blog post to document some of the great memories she etched in our hearts.

Jeremy Sams was left blushing the first time he was blessed to meet the matriarch of my oh-so southern family. Her wittiness and that strong southern accent entertained him from her first greeting. She said, "Hello, nice to meetcha." (slight pause for her observation of my new man) "You'd make a good hog raiser! " Jeremy blushed a little while he asked her how in the world that could be. She said with surety, "Because.... you've got hairy legs!" We all chuckled, but no doubt.... she was serious!!  Though we were amused, we left that day trusting that all GOOD hog raisers' first qualification is HAIRY LEGS!! She was well accustomed with the farm life, being a native of  the rich lands of  South Carolina. That was the way of living most of her days and hard work was the only way she knew to survive.

My granny, Arlene D. Todd, was born on July 20th in the year of 1927. It was a hot day that the Lord picked for such a sweet soul to be born. He gave her the most beautiful brown eyes and smile that changed the world around her. She grew to be the most compassionate and wisest woman I've ever known. She was made of steel!!! My grandpa , Woodrow Todd, who was a preacher boy, won her heart and married her at a young age. Her first child was born when she was only 17, however, her love for children had only just begun! She went on to have 8 beautiful living children, and even other precious babies that were meant for heaven. She was never scared to give birth, and even  home birthed and still lived to tell it......imagine that! LOL! Her and my grandpa were so compassionate that they took in other people's children as well, and nurtured them as their own.  She was a wet nurse for mother's in the community that couldn't feed their own babies, all while feeding her own. So now you know that I really didn't fall far from the tree!!!

My granny taught me so much that she had learned throughout her 87 years of life. She lived with us in my teenage years and there was one thing that I learned !!! No haint better mess with her and her babies!!! She grew up calling ghosts, haints. She always tickled me so much with her haint stories,  that I still tell them today!  Everybody knows when one came around she would sick Jesus on em' ! I would hear her anywhere throughout the house rebuking them and singing hymns to them like "Nothing but the Blood and Amazing Grace". I'm telling you.... that made me feel safe and definitely worked on my soul! I thought.... if her and Jesus were keeping the evil spirits at bay then I surely had nothing to fret! She always told us , "Don't you ever run from em' ! Start claiming the name of Jesus and they are the ones that have to run!" I wasn't a believer then, but my sweet granny was, and she planted seeds in my heart with her stedfast faith. That is what remains in my memories about her.  She was a part of everything that I am today! She taught me about how to be a hard worker no matter the task, how to cook, how to be a homemaker, how babies make the world a happier place, how God can give you a grateful and happy heart without material wealth, how to rejoice in sorrow, how to forgive way more than you "feel" like, how having compassion is a necessity, and that true love never dies!

She was the Paula Deen of our family! No one can make turkey dressing or biscuits like her. Her favorite food ever was Collard Greens, the caviar of our family's southern menu (hence why they are in capital letters)! She taught me how to, in her words,"Look em greens."  Which meant to clean and wash them 4 times over and make sure there were no worm holes. One of my favorite things she would do was show me measurements by the joint lines on her fingers and from the length of her wrist to her elbow. Jeremy Sams still benefits daily because of the things she taught me in the kitchen. Hehe!

Although my granny was a very happy soul, she was well acquainted with hardships and sorrow. She was an overcomer! You see.... my grandfather died in his early 40's, when my mother, the baby,  was only 5. This left my granny with 8 children to raise on her own and a lifetime of missing him immensely.  Years later she remarried to an alcoholic who was abusive to her and her family. She was left a widow once again when he was found murdered in a side ditch near their home.   She was a cat with more than 9 lives! She lived with only one kidney most of her life and had several medical conditions that placed her on death's bed many times! More than both my hands can count! She worked until her legs would literally no longer hold her feeble body up and never asked for handouts. I could go on and on, but the point is, she never let her sorrows cloud her view of  Jesus and what a treasure he was to her in her darkest hours. This still inspires me today!

I can still hear her say " Hello Darlin!" or "There's my baby!"  when I came to see her. Those big, beautiful brown eyes of hers still shine from the faces of my children today, and I see her. She has left such a legacy for our family to cherish and be proud of!! I am thankful for my heritage and the fact that a part of her lives on through me daily.  The last few years of her life I videoed some of our conversations together and I would like to share one of  them with you today.

“Everyone is born and they die, but it's the memories they leave behind that define them and let them live on in others.” -Judy Fennell 

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
― Shannon Alder   

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