Old people always seemed older than what they were when you were younger than you are. I remember my Gramma and Cousin Dora, and Cousin Florence, Cousin Liza, all sitting in Gramma’s living room around a quilting loom putting together a thing of great beauty while picking apart every unlucky soul not fortunate enough to be in the room.
“Did you hear…”
“Did you see …”
“Didn’t I tell you…”
“I don’t know what she was thinking.”
“Acting like nobody would see him.”
“Now wasn’t that something?”
I learned a lot sitting quiet and still beneath that blanket. I learned who was doing what with who when they thought no one was looking. I learned what a midnight rambler was and what it meant when a girl was “getting big.” I learned how things were really run behind the scenes. I learned what the words Peyton Place meant.
But I also learned the secret to a perfect pie crust. How long collards needed to cook, where to get your car worked on, who sold the freshest fish, how much to pay for everything from house dress to a house.
And I learned you bring food with death and you sit with the sick. Church wasn’t a place you went but a sacred practice and as necessary to a good life as air to breathe. You watch out for children and respect your elders. And when the bad times come, you hang on and you hang close and you stay together because joy cometh in the morning. And in the end there really is no place like home.
Those old women held the wisdom of the ages, they lived lives and were still living them, but to a girl of six they were just the old ladies who would take a switch to you when you were bad and cried with pride when you were good. And the cakes they could bake… Oh my goodness!
Oh to sit beneath the blanket just one more time
Now wouldn’t that be something?