Grandma married when she was almost 19, my grandfather at the time was 17....and no, that's not a typo. He only had a sixth grade education because he dropped out of school to work when his father died so he was a man before his time. He went on to become a very successful businessman and the beloved Mayor of their town in South Georgia. He became very involved in politics so my little country girl grandma ended up rubbing elbows with all the most illustrious Georgia politicians in the 1960's and 1970's. She and my grandfather were even invited to Jimmy Carter's inaugural ball, but they declined (I can't remember why.) They also did some traveling abroad - quite a stretch for a girl who remembers seeing the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk (okay, a little exaggeration there, but not much! LOL)
When my grandpa was about to retire in the late 1970's, they built their "dream home". Fairly well off by local standards - remember this was small town Georgia - they built a lovely redwood home on the marsh with screened porches all around. My grandma grew up sleeping on porches in the summer time because of course there was no AC. When I asked her one time how hot and uncomfortable it was before AC, she answered, "Well, it just didn't seem as hot back then, at least not so's you'd notice". In the dream house my grandma would have nothing but a wood burning cookstove - that big cast iron thing like you see at Cracker Barrel. Unbelievably they were actually able to locate a new wood stove that she cooked on - no electric range, no microwave, no dishwasher - for the next 20 years. Of course they could afford all those luxuries but she didn't want them.
Grandma is a tiny woman, less than 5 feet tall and 100 lbs, but she'd kill a rattlesnake with a hoe all in a day's work. She'd go after a rat with a shovel or a broom. She ate bacon, lard, butter, pork and whole milk all her life and has enjoyed nearly perfect health. I've visited her at the nursing home and seen her pushing the wheelchair of a woman 20 years younger. She spends more time in her own wheelchair now because she is frail and unsteady on her feet, but she can get up and about when she needs to. Otherwise she insists on wheeling it herself - to keep up her strength, she says. And this is the God's Honest Truth, she still has all her teeth! Coffee stained (she LOVES coffee) but strong, straight, healthy teeth. She reads and does crossword puzzles and "rules" the little nursing home where she has lived the last five years only because the family didn't want her alone at home all day.
Longevity runs in her family, there have been a number of centenarians in the last few generations. Her own mother lived to 103, her grandfather to 107 and a great-aunt was still working in her garden, so the story goes, at 111. Grandma's sister "died young" at 97.
(Note: Sadly, for me, being adopted I did not inherit these genes. But my mom did, and will probably outlive me if this trend continues.)
In keeping with the theme of this blog, this is the part where I'm supposed to say that I grew up to the clackety clack of Grandma sewing on her old treadle Singer. But actually I can't remember ever seeing her sew on a machine. What I did see her do, decade after decade, was this: