Mark Lowry takes a break from braving challenges presented by Homecoming readers. This time, per request, he shares memories of his grandparents.
People are having kids late these days. David Letterman just fathered his first child at 57. That’s too old! You’ll go to Little League and there’ll be nothing but handicap parking! It’s hard to do double-dutch jump rope with your child while wearing an oxygen hose. By the time your kids are out of diapers you’ll be in ’em. OK, OK, enough already! But, if you have children that late in life, they’ll probably never know their grandparents. I was blessed. I had cool grandparents and I knew all four of them.
Nanny & Paw Paw were my mom’s parents. They were a musical bunch. Paw Paw was a great singer. He always sang the tenor part in the quartet at church. I’ve talked a lot about my chin, which I inherited from Paw Paw; it’s a family heirloom — passed down from generation to generation.
Nanny had a scar on her leg. It was a scar that looked like something you’d find on Frankenstein. It ran down the front of her leg from her knee to her ankle — a long line with a string of dots, made from archaic stitching procedures, running down each side of it. I loved to hear her tell “the scar story”: “I was on a step ladder. Painting the outside of the house in June of ’58.” (It was the same month and year I was born, which made the story more interesting to me.) I would stare at the scar on Nanny’s leg, thinking, “that scar is as old as I am” while she told me the same story she had told me many times before. I don’t know if she would forget she had already told me or if she liked telling it as much as I enjoyed hearing it. I especially loved the climax of the story: “I lost my balance, fell off the ladder and my shin-bone came protruding through the skin.” Her pitch rising as she got to the “protruding through the skin” part. I would always wince, grab my shin and freak out at this point and ask her how bad it hurt and how long it took Paw Paw to get her to the hospital and was there a lot of blood?
Cool grandparents don’t try to hide their scars. Nanny always crossed her legs with the scarred one on top for all to see. It was a trophy, a great conversation piece. And, although it was very visible I never thought it was ugly. I thought it was cool.
Grandma and Grandpa were my dad’s parents. They were more reserved, yet down to earth. Grandma was a great cook and loved her grandchildren. Grandpa was shorter than Grandma. They reminded me of “Ma and Pa Kettle.” Grandpa had a sixth-grade education, and still brought in enough income to raise six children. You would usually find him reading his Bible in the bathroom. He would sit in there because he said it was the best light in the house.
I used to love to go over to Grandma’s house and spend the night. She let me sleep with her and said I was a perfect child when I was with her. Which was probably her way of saying to everybody else, “What’s your problem? Don’t you know how to treat this boy? I do!” She fed me good and I always behaved around her, just to tick everybody else off.
She kept her bedroom cold like a meat locker. Their house had central air-conditioning, but Grandma also had a window unit that kept her room on ice. She had piles of blankets on the bed. I would always get there first and wait on Grandma. She’d finally come walking through the door, her hair in curlers with a fishnet holding them in place and funny pajamas. We’d crawl under thick blankets and sleep good.
Grandma believed in enemas. She always had an enema bag hanging from the shower rod. Always on “standby.” She thought an enema would cure anything. And sometimes it did. But a stumped toe? A toothache? Depression? You had to be careful not to let Grandma know you were feeling puny or she’d end up chasing you around the house with that enema bag thrown over her shoulder, screaming, “Come here, bend over, you’ll feel better.”
So, I said all that to say this: Have your kids by 30, your grandkids by 60. That way, they’ll know their grandparents, and you’ll still have enough energy to chase them around the house with an enema bag thrown over your shoulder.
Read the other "Misadventures of Mark" articles:
Mark Goes to First Grade!
Mark Goes Fishing to Uncover a Secret!
Mark's Day at Krispy Kreme!
Mark Helps Vestal Goodman Make A Coconut Cake
Mark Gives Janet Paschal a Whole New Look!
Mark Survives A Storm!
Mark Tries to Expound on the Topic of Art
Click here to see more articles featuring Homecoming artist Mark Lowry.