To start off, I would have to say Grandma Lucille and Papa Jack are the most influential people in my life. I am grateful and proud to have them as my Grandparents. I was asked to write down a few of my collected memories with Papa Jack and Grandma Lucille. It seemed to be an easy task until I began writing. Suddenly, I realized it would prove difficult because there were too many memories to count. I had to whittle them down until I could find the ones I believed changed my life in significant ways.
Stephanie and I lived with them for a while when they lived in Port Arthur Country Club. Grandma Lucille was always either cooking or sewing. Papa Jack was always working in the yard or installing a water pump somewhere for someone. They two never slowed down. To this day Papa Jack can work circles around me. He was never afraid of a little sweat getting on his blue overalls. On his breaks, he would come inside, pull out his frozen mug from the freezer and fill it with milk or Big Red. After his break, he headed right back outside to finish what he started.
I can remember getting up early in the mornings when the droplets of dew were still heavy on the ground. I would ask Grandma Lucille for shrimp to go fishing. She seemed to always have plenty. I would grab my fishing pole, bucket and the shrimp and head off to the dock to catch whatever I could. It didn’t matter, I was having fun. Often times, they would fish with us. Papa Jack was the “Catfish King.” If there was a catfish in the water, he was going to catch it. As I became a teenager, Papa jack showed me how to trotline. I loved it and spent every possible moment on the water, either fishing or setting trotlines. Life with them seemed so peaceful.
Many times, while on our way to church Stephanie and I would count the hawks perched on the power lines. It was a long drive so we had to find something to do. Papa Jack and Grandma Lucille were firm believers in a good meal and Luby’s seemed to usually fit the bill just before church. Come to think of it, those meals could account for Papa Jack always falling asleep during the sermon. We will likely never know.
Once the sermon was over, we would head back home where Papa Jack would eat his usual cornbread and milk. Stephanie and I preferred the butter pecan ice cream from the 5 gallon Baskin Robbins bucket in the freezer. Grandma always had something good to eat. She happens to be the greatest cook ever was. No one could cook a brisket, fried shrimp, gumbo or dinner rolls like her. Not even if she gave them her recipe. That’s a talent no one can duplicate.
Grandma Lucille is a firm believer in what I refer to as “Continuous Christianity.” At any given moment she would sing praises. She often knelt beside the bed to pray and routinely read the bible. She was always peaceful and willing to lend an ear. She could relate any of your worries to scriptures. Most of which she knew by heart.
Papa Jack always has a story to tell or a smile on his face. Everyone knows his weakness is children. There is not a child he won’t play with…or tease. They love him as well. He is widely known by children as “Pawpaw Jack.” He is the special kind of loving character everyone wants to imitate.
As I said before, there are too many memories and too little time to share them. I am so blessed to have the grandparents that gave me those memories. They mean the world to me. They have instilled their values and morals in me. They are the most peaceful and Christian persons I know, and I have never witnessed a couple so perfectly made for each other.
There are so many memories that it is difficult to know where to begin. More challenging will be to determine what to leave out and when to stop. My earliest memories are of the Sunday Comics. I can remember Grandma ‘Cille being ill and giving me a shoebox, a pair of scissors and the Sunday Comics to cut out and play with to keep me quiet when she was sick. Later in life it was Papa Jack who saved the Sunday Comics for me…I read them religiously! Even now, I find myself reminiscing about reading Family Circus, Snoopy, Garfield, Snuffy Smith, Blondie, Marmaduke and Dennis the Menace.
Jeremy and I lived with Grandma ‘Cille and Papa Jack for several years. They always made church our #1 priority, followed by family and our education. I can remember waking up in the wee, dark hours of the morning to Grandma praying. She prayed all through the day – she could be washing dishes, scrubbing toilets, sewing or cooking and you’d hear her talking and singing to her Friend. It placed within my own heart a desire to know Him like she did. No other gift could ever compare to the one given to me when they put a love of God, my church and church family in my heart.
Sunday evenings were always special. That was when they would go eat at Luby’s. Who knows how many times I walked up to them at church to give them a hug and could SMELL Luby’s on them! I always knew! When we went to live with them, they brought us along. I can’t walk past a Luby’s today without thinking of them. Papa Jack always got the chicken fried “snake” and Grandma frequently ordered the liver and onions. The liver and onions always smelled so good! I asked Grandma for a taste one time and that was the first time I realized not everything in life tastes as good as it smells!
Images run through my mind…watching Grandma bake cakes (and letting me eat the scraps) and helping her make roses out of the icing, having Papa Jack ride us around on the golf cart (ask Tiffany Landry about me riding her on the golf cart – not such a nice memory, ha-ha), Sunday naps, Big Red and Root Beer floats, homemade birthday cakes, lazy evenings reading books, Grandma sewing me new dresses or working on crafts, Papa Jack hauling dirt around, mowing or running off to work on someone’s water well, eating fried pies at camp and fishing with a cane pole.
They took us on many trips to see Pappy and Maw or Pawpaw and Grandma Peterson. Believe it or not I loved riding in the back of the truck with the camper top. I can remember listening to the train whistle and feeling the house shake when the train went by, swinging on the front porch, eating blackberry cobbler, and sleeping with the windows open at Pappy and Maws. Pawpaw Peterson introduced us to boiled peanuts and would always play with his dentures to amuse us. Come to think of it, Papa Jack’s done that dentures thing a time or two, also! They even took us on trips to
Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (back when it was safe to go) and to Branson, MO.
Grandma and I loved to play Scrabble in bed in the evening and Papa Jack would hop into the bed to officially end the game when he was ready to go to sleep! Of course, that was BEFORE they invented the board that had special boxes for each tile!
Holidays were always the best. I don’t remember anyone needing an invitation – if you were family you were invited. Period. Everyone was always welcome. The food, oh my…brisket, gumbo, homemade rolls, coconut cake, chocolate pie, chocolate chip cookies, homemade candies, fruit cake, sweet tea, sweet cream corn, purple hull peas with fresh okra steamed on top, butter beans with ham hocks…hungry yet? To my knowledge, Grandma did all the cooking – all of it – by herself.
It wasn’t just food that made the holidays special. Christmas was Grandma’s favorite time of year. The decorations were endless. Every room had something in it. Every light on the tree had to be just so…thank goodness to whomever invented pre-lit trees! The ornaments had to be spaced just exactly so – no two alike near each other while having the perfect balance around the tree. The tree skirt, the train that choo-chooed around the perimeter of the tree, beautifully wrapped packages, a fire crackling in the fireplace, roasted peanuts, Scrabble or, more recently, Rummikub. Grandma collected the Dicken’s Village with all the people, trees, benches, street lamps, skating pond and so much more. The candy cane tree, her collection of Santa’s that adorn the mantle, the stockings, swags of greenery over all the windows tied up with bells, mistletoe and red velvet ribbons. The homemade placemats, table centerpieces, the huge hurricane lamp with the big red candle inside and the bowl it sat in filled with Hershey’s miniature candies or Kisses. Grandma even went so far as to wrap the extra large Hershey bars or Andes Mints boxes individually and set one at each place at the table so you always had a sweet treat to take home with you.
These are only a few of my childhood memories. I can’t even begin to tell you of my more recent memories and the many memories they have given my children, also. These days all the women split the cooking when we gather together, I wrap the chocolate bars, Jeremy puts up the tree and Malissia decorates it. All the great-grandchildren insist on multiple rides on the golf cart and Papa Jack is always considerate enough to oblige. It’s funny to see my kids fight over who gets to play Santa and pass out all the presents – it seems like just yesterday that I fought for this rite of passage! No one in this world has been more blessed than I to have such wonderful Grandparents. I love them more than words can ever express. My greatest wish is that one day my grandchildren will have this same sense of family, of love, and just as many memories. I can think of no better way to honor my grandparents than to pass the love they shared with me along to my future family.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed that! I'll be posting a letter I created about their history - it's FABULOUS!!! For now...here's a pic of them that you might enjoy!
|H.N. "Jack" and 'Cille Maxwell|
K. Bye now!