It Was Only… Yesterday
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
Sometimes…. like this morning… I stop for moments at a time to think about things one takes for granted. Even I do, to a certain extent. Yet… I know better than to do that… I know how it feels to do without.
It doesn’t feel good at all… but, many thousands of people have to. Think about it… you wouldn’t believe the homeless people in our own country… I’ve seen them when ‘out west’ in Los Angeles, and such big cities up north like New York City, so on. I could almost swear ‘I’m beginning to see it here, in the smaller towns’…..
I’m no expert on homeless people, but…. I know I saw often such scary things you wouldn’t believe. A big truck goes into areas… you wouldn’t believe. The drivers of those big truck ‘sees life as it really is’…. people don’t pretend around truck drivers. Some people don’t hide the things they do, either.
Have you thought about how it feels to wake up in a cold house on a morning such as this morning. The temperature is 27 degrees. I can remember even now, how miserable it was as a child to wake up at Grandma Alma and George‘s on a cold morning.
Poor George was responsible for everything to keep that house going. He had to build a fire each morning… I look back in my mind at him. He’d be shivering as he worked on the kindling to get it to burn in the wood heater… George was blind.
George’s hands would be shaking from the cold as he would put wood in the heater. Wood that as a little girl, I watched him chop. He would build a fire in the wood heater in the ‘arena/sitting room’ they sat in every day of their life for twenty-some years.
George… George was someone very special to me. He was my grandfather… I never knew my mother or father’s …. father. I was always curious about my father’s father… no one ever wanted to speak of him…. he must have been a really ‘bad’ person. I have no idea how he looked… I never saw a photo of him in my whole life.
I saw a photo of my mother’s father… he was a handsome man. I’m sure at one time he must have been a ‘ladies’ man’… I say that from looking back at all my family members… we ‘all’ thought ‘we were something’ at one time, or other. We’ve all been vain at one time, or other… yes, even Granny Gee has. We all were handsome/pretty when younger… extra-pretty.
George…. was the most special man I knew in my life as a child. Skip is the next most special man I ever knew in my life…. he is so much like George. George, I guess I could say… was the father I never had as a child, also. I know Grandma Alma was… my mama when… my mama would disappear. Of course, ‘now’… Skip is my everything in this world… him, and our Pups.
At their house on such cold mornings… one had to either take a cold water bath… or take time to heat water up on the electric range. I remember as a child, I didn’t understand that. I would freeze my hands trying to take a cold water bath.
I would see George take his hand to see if the electric burner was on… he would reach out to feel.. sometimes burning his hand before realizing it was too close to the burner. I would feel a really sick feeling inside when he hurt himself…
I remember I would run cold water in the old clawfoot bathtub in the bathroom, try to get into it. I couldn’t understand ‘why’ the water wouldn’t be warm. I never knew that kind of living until I was nine years old, and came to live with Grandma Alma, George. Oh my God… the things I learned… there.
I do remember the pain from being in cold water… how did I do that? How did I take my little girl naked body, climb over the side of that old bathtub …. and sit down in that freezing water? I would cry…. I know I must have been some kind of red when I came out shivering uncontrollably. I know my eyes would be red, too. Not only that… there was never heat on the back porch, or… that bathroom. Freezing…
Welcome to Hell, little girl…. somehow you must have been bad enough in your previous life to deserve it… I didn’t know it, but… I’d lived… and went to hell as a nine year old child. It took years to understand that was what had happened to me… I didn’t know the word ‘Hell’, then. I did know what pain, fear was though. I knew the word ‘hurt’ very well… everything ‘hurt’….
Grandma Alma, George had a rotary telephone that sat on the old dresser … ‘her dresser’… on the left side of her old upholstered rocking chair. On the top of that dresser sat her many bottles of ‘everything’. Medicines, lotions, alcohol. Her glass of ice water sat there, also. Sometimes, a small Coca Cola, would sit there, too.
The old dresser had a mirror on it. I would sometimes, stand at Grandma Alma’s chair on her right side…. on my tiptoes to try to see myself in it. Even ‘today’…. I can’t bear to see a mirror that looks like the one I saw … then.
I would see a mirror that seemed to have a fog on it… and see the harsh light reflected in it… it was dirty, it was awful. I could only see ‘me’ but, not my features. I quit looking. I don’t know if my Grandma Alma ever tried to see herself in it. She had a hand-mirror.
My poor grandma… my poor, poor grandma. Poor George. How my heart hurts even at this date in time… thinking about them. They never knew what luxury was… nothing buffered them from the harsh realities of this world… nothing gave them a break from the hard life they lived.
I think I would have taken all those bottles of medicines I remember always seeing (that did something to me as a child, also) … and just died. Isn’t that an awful thought, thing for … Granny Gee to say? I say this because I ‘know’ very well … being suicidal. I experienced this several times in my young life…. of course, I wasn’t successful…. see, I’m still here… now. :)))
These are other stories … for another time. You see ‘now’… I learned to never give up … I’m here. I’m not sorry to disappoint ‘some’ people… I know now, that my real father, and his wife… hoped I ‘would go’ as a child…. insurance money. They still made out like ‘fat cats’… they are both gone now.
I’ll never forget when I was only nine… I went to stay for a time with him.. meeting him for the first time. They took us, my two half-sisters on vacation to the beach….. they called my two half-sisters back closer to shore… they let me wander on out as far as I wanted to…. I’m sure they stood there in anticipation…..
I’ll never forget turning around to look back…. everyone was so far ‘back’… I was the only one out in the ocean that far. I was so afraid, I didn’t know I had went so far away…… no one had called me back to safety….
That telephone on Grandma Alma’s dresser had a cord on it. It wouldn’t work unless it was plugged into the jack on the wall. No one heard of cellphones…. then. Children today… can’t ever imagine not having cellphones ‘now’…. it honestly hasn’t been as long as they think… when ‘it used to be that way’.
At one time, it seemed ‘to be a big deal when someone had more than one telephone’ in their home. It seemed to impress people….
Heat, telephone, cold/hot water… things we take for granted… I don’t take any of them for granted at all. Believe it or not… I still remember too well being that little girl…. who felt pain from being too cold from the weather, the water. No, I promise you I don’t take such for granted.
I feel for others who have to go without…. even that. I would settle for ‘even that’… if I didn’t have the luxury of being able to turn up a thermostat on the wall, or use my wonderful cellphone, turn on either the hot, cold water.
I’m so grateful for … all. Thank God for those things… I thank God every day when there are things in my path to make life easier for me, us. I could be without them… you could be, too.
I am so very appreciative of being able to take photos, text, email, play on the web…. all on my cellphone. As a child… I think I’d been in Heaven if I’d had such then… especially a computer. I wonder if children today can possibly imagine not having these things?
No, it’s like when we were little… we never knew… when we were told… it’s like it happened ‘way before our time’. It really happened ‘yesterday’… but, you couldn’t convince a child that.
Aren’t you sometimes amazed at things man has made? It’s mind-boggling when one stops to think in detail … it’s magical, it’s the ‘impossible’… it’s… wonderful.
Tommy always loved his toys, his new gadgets. He was up on everything… and through time, he gave me alot of his toys when he ‘upgraded’… I loved it. I love new things, change. I miss getting his toys when he got new ones. :))) We (he, Skip and I) always shared … we always wanted the other to have ‘something good’ if one of us did. I miss my son.
Remember when all television/tv was ‘free’…. there wasn’t any such thing as charging for tv… unless it was for the electricity. Now… we pay for it. Children couldn’t imagine tv like we knew it ‘just yesterday’. They play games on tv, record movies and such things. We even use our computers on tv’s.
I love change, I love modern/new things as they come along. I’m one of the first who would want to use them. Skip loves things that are familiar. There are many things I would wish to enjoy but, they are too expensive. That’s okay… I’m so thankful for what I do get to experience….
I could be getting up to make a morning fire in the wood heater, trying to heat water to take a bath in the dead of winter, not having the freedom to go places or take photos, be in communication by texting, email… with my cellphone.
I could be… homeless, not have anything. I’m so sorry people have to be homeless…. they are at the mercy of the world. When we really stop to think about it….. alot of us are closer than we know… to being homeless… there’s a fine line ‘there’…..
The memory of that wood heater at Grandma Alma, George’s lasted through all these years… oh no, I wouldn’t want to have to do that…. but, if I really needed to… I would learn how to keep warm.
It was just ‘only yesterday’…..