I feel, I hope, I pray you’re going to follow my journey. And a HUGE part of my journey is going to include Granny O. So, today, I’m just going to go ahead and get her introduction out of the way. By the way, did you know that Jackie O was a Granny O also? Not where we got the name, but she likes to throw that tidbit in conversation whenever she can.
You’ve heard of breaking the mold when they made someone. Well, when God made Ola Mae Brandon Wester, somebody took that mold, threw it down, broke it, shattered it and stomped on it for good measure. There ain’t another one in this world like her. For good reason, I think. The world couldn’t handle another one. It’s all I can do maintain some level of control (who am I kidding??) where she is concerned. She is 93 years young, and while her vision is gone, left with about 20% in one eye due to macular degeneration, they ain’t nothing wrong with her mind or her ears. Don’t mutter under your breath around her thinking she ain’t gonna hear it. Now she’s my Granny, and my elder, and I love her and most of all I respect her, but she can make me madder than a mashed cat quick as anyone can. If I say left she says right for no other reason than to say right the opposite of me. And I’m gonna be just like her someday. Heck, I already am.
Now if Granny O has an opinion on something, you’re gonna know it. Facebook? It’s the devils playground. “Do you got so and so on your facebook? Why, I’d be ashamed to tell it if I did”. She doesn’t quite “get” what being facebook friends with someone means. One important point that needs to be made up front is that Granny O is a Republican and I’m a Democrat. Or lets say, in the past I was one of those yellow dog folks who didn’t stray for no reason no way no how from the D ticket. Today, I’m about as disgusted with both parties as someone can get. Another story for another day. But can I just say that me and Granny O have had some lively political conversations? Help me, Lord. Be near. She’s pert near stroked on out if I say the words Hillary or Obama. One of my all time faves, “If anyone is for Hillary they need their head examined. And I don’t mean tomorrow. I mean right now”. There is a rather colorful video I posted on FB where I told her I had entered a contest to try to win dinner with Hillary and I was taking her with me if I won. That went over like a turd in a punch bowl.
But my friends and family sure enjoyed watching them. In fact I used to video her often on our Sunday outings and post them. Her limited vision kept her from realizing when I was recording her, and me being mean for sport like I am (got it from her so I can say that), and knowing how much everyone loved these videos and begged for them, I posted them for the world to see. Can I just say a big thanks to whoever the member of the Pikeville Church of Christ (where there is a whole 9 in attendance on a good day), told her about these videos. I appreciate the heck out of you. That and add in the fact that my son texted me and shamed me for posting them without her knowledge and the tongue lashing I got from her was enough for me to lay off for a while. I tried to explain she was doing the world a disservice to make me stop and that everyone LOVED her. Guess what, y’all? She don’t care.
So for now, I’m stuck writing down the small phrases and jargon she uses, “Granny O’isms” as I call them. Little bits of wisdom that I wish I had been writing down for years, because it’s been going on all my life, but I’ve just now come to appreciate them. Here are a few of my all time faves:
Self bragging is half scandal.
Truth will stand when the worlds on fire.
It doesn’t cost a thing in the world to be nice.
You may give out, but you never give up.
People in trouble don’t care who they get in trouble.
I dread the dreads.
Think. It might be a new experience.
I’m not that hard to please. That’s why I’m sitting where I’m at.
You learn more listening than you can talking. Shut your mouth.
If they seat you near the kitchen, they don’t think much of you.
If you mess with SH!# (now she spells it because Granny o DOES NOT CUSS), you get it all over you. (It has to be said that this is the one I have used more times in my life than ANYTHING).
That’s their baby and they’re gonna have to watch it.
Looking like something the cats drug in cause the dogs wouldn’t eat it.
But the one. The one that speaks to me and that I know someday will haunt me is this one. “Only a Mother knows”. I’m actually going to have it inscribed on her tombstone should the day come when she is laid to rest beside my sweet Momma. Her only child. What Granny O means by this is that only a mother knows what she will do, what she will endure, what she will go through for their child. Now that’s the truth if there ever was. Go ahead and write that down in the front of your bible next to your kids names. That’s gospel, y’all. There is NO love like a mothers love. I can argue this one til the cows come home. My sons dad loves him. A lay down in the middle of the road die for him love. But he is NEVER going to feel the way I do about him. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. A mothers love is not of this world. Only a Mother knows. Wow. If she never leaves me anything else, the legacy of those words is enough.
She met Raymond, who was to be her husband at a ball game in the Kyle Community. That’s at the end of the Pike if you don’t know. Y’all all gonna be Pikeville experts by the time I’m done with you. See, he wasn’t from around these parts. He was from Albertville in neighboring Marshall County. Granny O had taught school at Crow Mountain and had met some of his kin there, so she knew of him but didn’t know him. They got married in 1948 and in the early 50’s moved to Chicago where he worked at the Ford plant. If you have old timers from the South in your family, you’ve heard them talk about when “everyone went up north to work”. They had been there a few years, and in June of 1953 she was around 6 months pregnant with my momma.
They lived in a little park rental type community near a lake and the landlord was having issues with seagulls. So he hired my grandfather and two other men to go out onto the lake during the night when no one was around and eradicate them. Shoot ’em. Yes, eradicate sounds nicer. Now, my grandfather was an avid fisherman. He grew up on and near Lake Guntersville. Granny O says he always use to point out a particular piece of land in Guntersville and tell her one day that’s where they were going to build a house. I have that little story on video also. I’m gonna save it for myself right now.
When it got really late and he hadn’t come in, Granny O said she went outside and was walking around the lakes edge looking for them. A man came up to her and asked her if she was ok and she told him who and what she was looking for. “I was in my gown, Kim. Out there walking around”. Whenever I think of this story I have this vivid image in my mind of how she looked on the edge of that lake in her gown. And even though he’s long gone, I wish I knew who that man was. Maybe he has a granddaughter I could connect with. And thank. Don’t ask me why. I’m odd like that.
At daylight, they found the boat in the lake, upside down. Just the boat. No one or nothing near or around it. I think she said it took about 3 days to finally recover the bodies. No idea what or how it happened. All three of these men were strong swimmers. There was no storm, no inkling as to how they all drowned. She said she remembers her family coming to get her and bring her back to Alabama, but not much else. She’s not one who believes in all this “depression” mess, but I’m pretty sure the months after until my mother was born were spent in a deep depression.
And then. On September 16th, 1953, along came my Momma. Rebecca Lynn Wester. Becca to many, Momma to me, to my son she loved with her entire heart, she was Yaya. Granny O never remarried, so it was just her and my Mom. Along with other family to help out, of course. Granny O lived in Tampa while my Momma grew up, with my aunt Irma and her children. They were the closest things to siblings my Momma ever had. Granny O worked at Cattleman’s Auction Barn for years until she retired the year I graduated and moved to Alabama to be with us. To be with Momma. And us. We were all she had.
My Momma, y’all. She was a living, breathing angel on this earth. She did something for me every single day of my life. She loved my son Dylan with a fierceness an Iron Bowl rivalry can’t touch. He was her world. And after the heck me and my sister put her thru in our teen years, she deserved a Dylan Scott Rice. She thought the sun rose and set on the cheeks of his hind end, as they say. He was only 12 when she died. Sometimes I get mad. Is it alright to get mad at God ever now and then? Cause I do.
I’ll save my Momma’s story for another day. She deserves her own page, her own blog, her own gold star in Heaven. I find comfort in knowing she got there. But her part of Granny O’s story is this. My Granny O lost her only child on April 15th, 2005 in the middle of the night to a massive heart attack. She said she can still hear my Uncle Dwayne’s voice that night when he knocked on the door and told her and my aunt Ruby to get ready, that they had to go to the hospital. “Not Rebecca, she said. Anyone but her”.
I still don’t know why this was His plan. It sure has been heck on me since. Trying to fill her role. Taking care of my sister. My Granny. My stepdad for a while when I was convinced he would starve without my momma to cook for him. My niece. Dylan. Yaya’s shoes were some big ones. I can say I’ve give it my flat out level best, but I’m still not sure I’ve come close.
So when I talk to my Granny O about stress at work, troubles at home, the people I minister to in active addiction or recovery, she says this. “Hard times, pffttttttt. Y’all don’t know hard times. I’ve lived harder times than any of you all can even imagine”. And she’s right, you know. I’m not sure she wishes that maybe she hadn’t stayed in Tampa instead of coming here. I’m sure glad she did, cause I for one would be lost without her. Even when she makes me watch Fox News endlessly. Even when she complains. I’d say she’s earned the right to complain. And to be her one of a kind Granny O self. Later, y’all………