I dreamt of my mammaw’s house last night.
It was a green, wood-frame house — the kind of green from the 60s/70s that no one would touch today.
It had a small front porch. No central air, and in south Texas. All windows would be open. When you enter the house, you enter their small livingroom. To the left was the diningroom, with a door that leads to the kitchen. The kitchen would be hot because of all the cooking she’d do. So the door would be closed most of the time in the mornings and in the afternoons. Then there was another door into her and papaw’s bedroom, that was screened in on all sides with a door that led out back. They had the bathroom. Right beside the kitchen door was another door, that led to a guestroom. The guestroom had a door that led right back into the livingroom.
At night she’d give you a chamberpot for the guestroom if you had to go in the night. She was still used to outhouse living — you didn’t go in her room to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. You used the chamberpot.
I never used it at night lol. Forget that.
She would get real butter, and in the mornings she’d set it out on the table, and it would soften while she cooked.
Her eggs were always perfect — light, fluffy, not even seasoned. But good, just like that.
Her toast was toasted on the stove.
My papaw had his chair in front of the tv. NO ONE sat in that chair. He smoked ALOT of cigarettes, and had one of those club-ashtrays with the tall stand right beside his chair. He wasn’t my biological papaw; my blood papaw died before I was born. My mammaw didn’t get divorced; her husbands would grow old and die and she’d remarry. But John was a very good man, and was a good papaw to me. He was a light skinned man, missing teeth here and there, and was much the farmer. He’d be gone most of the day, farming somewhere, then he’d come home. He’d greet me and his country accent was thick but I understood what he was saying. He’d sit and watch tv and did not want to be bothered.
My mammaw, when I’d stay with them alone, would set me on the bed in the guestroom while she did her chores. She’d bring me a box “Would you like to see my pretty earrings?? I have lots of pretty earrings,” she’d say. She’d put the box on the bed and be like “Only problem is, they’re all mixed up! They need to be matched together. Can you do that for mammaw while I go and cook dinner?”
“Yes ma’am,” I’d say, and I’d set about my task, of matching earrings…
and I’d find NOT ONE MATCH IN THE ENTIRE BOX, lol.
She was good at distracting me. lol
She’d show me all her shoes — shoes she’d bought back in the 40s but were still in impeccable condition.
She’d show me all the arrowheads she’d found in their yard. So many!!! And still, hundreds of years after Native Americans lived on that land, *I’d* find them, and we’d add them to the box. She had them in an old lunchbox.
What would irritate me a little was when she’d show me the picture albums of all our family members from everywhere.
The children of her white employers would be in there, among the family members.
She was a cook in a white family’s house on the white side of town, for decades.
She felt like they were family.
I felt like they were NOT.
…they weren’t bad people, I guess. For that time. They still gave her money, even though she no longer worked for them. The gave alot of money for her funeral, when she died. So I guess they weren’t bad.
But still. I didn’t like it; I didn’t understand… and only understand now in the sense that times were different then.
I always thought cucumbers grew from trees and now I understand why I thought that — on the edge of their small property were trees, and the vines had grown up into the trees. So when mammaw would want cucumbers, she’d pick them out the trees, lol. She made pickles.
Their walkway had aloe plants growing. Papaw planted them there.
There was watermelon and pumpkins deep in the back…berries too. I wouldn’t go there, tho.
There was an extra room in the back of the kitchen. Sometimes mammaw would ask me “You wanna see what’s in that backroom?” “Yes ma’am!”
She’d get a key and unlock the door, and all her storage stuff was in there — old dolls, arrowheads, just a bunch of old things. It was hot in there; stuffy. I remember the stale smell of the air. We’d stay in there for a while as she uncovered things, and told me their stories of how they’d found them.
She’d go into Spanish (mammaw and papaw spoke Spanish fluently; all of our very old people did. My blood papaw, he did, too. He DREAMT in Spanish and would speak it in his sleep). She’d stop and say “You know what that means??” “No.” “It means ‘watch out’. Cuidado.” and she’d go on with her story.
They never cursed. My blood papaw would curse in his sleep, in Spanish, as he was fighting some long-ago situation. But they never cursed.
My mammaw was scared of Mexicans. They were boogie men to her, when I knew her. She’d close all the windows in the hot, hot house, telling me “Gotta keep the windows closed — dem Meskins — dey’ll peek in on you!”
Less than 10 minutes’ later, my mother would be on her trail, re-opening all the windows.
It was because once, when my mammaw was hanging curtains in her bedroom, a Mexican man shot her five times through the window.
He was chasing someone down the alleyway, thought the silhouette in the window was the man he was pursuing, and so he shot her.
Her husband was mowing the lawn in the front and heard nothing.
She had to drag herself through the house, and out on the front porch, which is where he saw her…
She survived (obviously). But was always paranoid about Mexicans and her windows after that.
In the winter, they had two heaters. I don’t know how old you are, reading this, or what you know about heaters from back in the day. But these were some DANGEROUS ASS HEATERS…omg… metal, and in the middle, FIRE. They had gas in them obviously but I don’t know how they worked.
They had one in the livingroom and it was enough to heat the entire house.
It caught my mammaw on fire one day. IT DID. Her robe got caught.
She was burned on 60% of her body.
She survived THAT (OBVIOUSLY).
…I don’t know what to say. She survived many things, and outlived 3 husbands.
When she was closer to the end, we’d sit at the diningroom table and I’d have my paper and pen and I’d ask her questions like “Who were your parents? What were their names?? And your sisters and brothers?? And what were THEIR parents’ names??” She’d answer all my questions, she’d give me stories and anecdotes of them — some of them quite unbelievable in my opinion but I’ll trust her that they DID INDEED happen.
She got dementia, and couldn’t live alone anymore. She lived with my auntie for a while, who couldn’t keep her under control (she’d leave, get lost and the police would bring her back), so she ended up at a nursing home, where she had a most undignified death for such a good woman.
They sold her house. Last time I was in that town, I went looking for it, and couldn’t recognize it.
I’m sure the new owners did away with that awful green.
I dreamt of her immediately after her death. My auntie was sobbing. It frustrated mammaw, and she said “Who’s doing all that crying? Who DIED??” I looked over, and said “…You.” And then I woke up.

I miss my grandmother. I miss these people. I miss her house. I miss going there for holidays. I miss it.

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