Friday, September 28, 2001

Granny Sallee

In Loving Memory of
Lura Becham Carter Sallee

My Granny Salle was a wonderful person. She worked hard all of her life, raising nine children and farming. She and my grandfather survived the early deaths of two sons and a grandson before their time. Granny survived losing her husband of 65 years. She survived leaving rural life for a small house in town, and she lived long enough to celebrate her 90th birthday with a party and family reunion.

Even though my Granny was hard of hearing for as long as I can remember, she did have a way with words. “Don’t you think you could take off a little weight?” This was a favorite question for me. Of course, I have fought with my weight all of my adult life, and Granny was always the first to notice any change to my weight. She always seemed to notice if I had “fallen of a bit”, or if I had picked up a few pounds.

Granny Sallee made the most wonderful homemade biscuits. I can remember in the old family farmhouse, she had a baking cupboard where she kept her flour, sugar and lard. She always mixed her dough by hand, rolled it out with a well-worn rolling pin, and cut perfect circles to place in the oven. In a few minutes, when those fluffy bits of heaven emerged from the oven, the smell would be overwhelming. There was nothing better than Granny’s homemade biscuits smothered with home canned jams or preserves.

Granny was also a pretty good seamstress, be it clothes or quilts. Granny was always working on quilt tops, carefully piecing each block from the remnants of old clothes. I think she managed to make quilts for each of her grandchildren, and she had numerous quilts tops that never quite made it to the quilting frame. I have one of those quilt tops, but my lack of time and sewing skills have kept me from transforming it into a beautiful quilt. I’m leaving that job for my retirement.

Even after Granny and Granddaddy Sallee moved to town, you could not take the country out of them. For years they had a small vegetable garden in their backyard. They both loved fresh tomatoes, green beans, onions and lettuce. You could always find them puttering around out in the garden. Granny loved to can beans and tomatoes, as well as her jams and preserves. I think I got my love of homemade jams and preserves from my Granny Sallee. I don’t can many vegetables from my gardens, but I do use my backyard blackberries, raspberries, grapes and rhubarb to make jam. It is a stress reliever for me, stirring the thickened pulp until it is just the right consistency jam, and then looking at through the crystal clear jars. Jam is a staple of the family Christmas baskets that I fix each year.

Granny Salle was really old-fashioned, like most grandparents, and she wasn’t much for change. I remember when my divorce was finale, I had this little yellow sign in the back window of my car that said, “Ex-husband in trunk”. Now, back in the 1980’s, everyone had those little yellow signs in their rear windows, and I thought mine was funny. Not Granny. Every time I would visit, Granny would make a remark about my sign. It took about five or six times before I became guilty and removed the sign from my car, but Granny didn’t forget it for a very long time. Months later, she was still saying, “I hope you don’t put that sign up again.” And I never did.

Granny loved her family. She always wanted people around to share in her life. She talked to family every day on the phone, and for the people who lived out of state, she wrote the most wonderful letters. She always liked to keep in contact and she never thought any of us visited enough, and I guess we really didn’t. I know that as I got older. I always seemed to have some excused for not visiting more often. I was either working or the kids had somewhere to be or we just had other plans. I guess I just took it for granted that Granny would always be there. In hindsight, I wish I had made the time to visit more often than I did.

In July of 1994, Granny Sallee turned 90, and we celebrated with a family reunion. Almost every single family member managed to make it back home. They came from all over Kentucky, as well as Arizona, Texas and Indiana. To say that Granny was overwhelmed would be an understatement. She spent the biggest part of the day with tears in her eyes. Having her entire family with her was the greatest present we gave her that day. She got lots and lots of pictures to mark the occasion, as well as a memory book. My husband and I got her a blank scrapbook and a cheap package of markers, and we had everyone write a birthday message to Granny. Even the little children drew a picture or a scribble. So not only could Granny look at the pictures of her family, but she would also go back and see what everyone wrote to her. As it turned out, Granny’s 90th birthday was the last time our family has all been together.

Granny passed away the following spring. Her passing was hard on everyone, especially my Dad, because he was the only surviving son. My big girls remember their great grandmother well, but since Christine was only two when Granny died, she will still as questions whenever she sees her picture. As for me, memories of my Granny Sallee will live forever in my heart.

© Bobbi Rightmyer, September 2001