Over the river…

Published 1:51 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!” These oft sung song lyrics of my childhood rang out of my mouth and those of my siblings as we readied ourselves for our Thanksgiving trek to Neshoba County.

For weeks, anticipation had built, and today we were finally loading the old sedan to head to Mamaw and Papaw’s house. We vied for our favorite spots in the car for the long trip. Today I had lucked out and found myself tucked away behind the backseat near the dashboard. Before long the squeaky shocks and the rumble of conversation lulled me to sleep.

Just as at Christmastime when little ones dreamt of all the joys of Christmas I could almost smell all the delicious food Mamaw would prepare as I slumbered peacefully. Too soon one of the other children woke me so they could have a turn in the treasured spot.

Our tummies started to rumble and growl in anticipation of the lovely supper we knew our grandmother would have ready for us. Everything was cooked from scratch, and most everything was grown on the farm. I thought it was taking ever so long to arrive, but right after dark the headlights shined on the mailbox at the end of Mamaw’s long drive.

All six of us whispered for the others to hush so we could jump out and surprise Mamaw. As soon as Daddy put the car in park we slowly got out and carefully tiptoed up the old porch steps. Without fail Mamaw would answer the soft knock and squeal with feigned surprise as we shot from our hiding places.

My grandmother was almost as big around as she was tall, and she waddled when she walked. She wore no makeup that I can remember and pulled her hair up into a severe bun. Her looks may have been plain, but inside Mamaw was fancy. Everything she did said love.

I didn’t help my grandma cook, but I did hang around the kitchen with her. My Mamaw’s cornbread dressing as my grandpa used to say was right up to now. With a few modifications I have been making my grandma’s recipe for almost forty years. This evening I’ll be making it once again, but this time my daughter in love, Cherrie, is coming to help me. It makes me proud to be able to pass down my Mamaw’s recipe.

Wilsie Rosemond Palmer worked tirelessly cooking for not only our family, but for all our cousins as well. She was awake and working while everyone else slept. I can still remember slowly opening my eyes and hearing the crackle of a roaring fire. I can almost smell her hot, mouthwatering biscuits. I think perhaps most people took my grandmother for granted. She quietly and graciously hummed away in the background making sure everything was taken care of while the other women slept.

I always think of my precious Mamaw this time of year. I am thankful for the many special memories I have of the old green farmhouse of my childhood and the special woman who loved there.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.