Around the farm it is said that my grandmother Aubba Grey made things grow. While my grandfather Frank would do the plowing and all the tractor work, she would care for the garden. If something was not growing and producing fruit she just had to know why. She would nourish and care for the plant until it was thriving. She let me help her plant things all the time. She would tell me if I planted it with my little young hands it would grow. That her hands were old and would not help it grow. It made me feel so helpful. Like I had the gift that little plant needed to grow. It gave me a connection to the plants, that they were young and so was I. It helped me understand the tenderness of a young plant and how to “baby it” until it could stand on it’s own. Like me a little thing myself could help this tiny little plant grow to be something well established. Something that would produce fruit like so many other plants around the house. These plants were part of my life they were friends I passed by and landmarks for gathering places in my wild imaginary adventures I would have growing up in the country.
Aubba Grey taught me how to cook too. We had to process the food we harvested. She taught me canning and ways of preserving food. One year we cut and froze so much corn I became nauseous at the site and smell of it! I could not look, touch, taste or feel corn any more hahahaha I was over corn for the rest of the year! She would put me on the counter while she cooked dinner for my grandfather. He had a job as a maintenance man at a factory. They still have inventions he made there. He never wanted to patent those ideas, just didn’t matter to him. He went to work very early to be back in time to farm. He came home around 3 p.m. everyday.
Grandma and I would go inside the house during the really hot part of the day and eat lunch. North Carolina gets very hot and humid during the summer months. We mostly worked outside all day but would take a break everyday around noon and maybe nap for an hour. She was an incredible painter until arthritis became so bad in her fingers she could do it no longer. She loved to watch Bob Ross, after that we watched Price is Right. I loved Bob Ross! I loved his kind heart and the happy little places he created on canvas. Now that I think about it I guess we could all make the world our canvas and create happy little places. That is what my grandparents did to their farm. Where they saw a tree needed to be, they would plant one there. Seeing it already grown and giving shade, a home for birds and something yummy for us to eat! My grandmother is very funny. She had a curse bank. That is a coin bank you place money in when you say a bad word. It had different values the more “bad” the word. I would check it everyday when I got there. Sometime I could hardly lift it and would turn around say GRANDMA! She would look at me say that dam grandaddy got on my nerves! Hahahahaha! After Bob would finish his master piece that he completely just pulled out of the air in 30 minutes. She would look at me and say “ you believe that sh–!” talking about how easily and carefree he had made such a beautiful painting in such little time.
Don’t let the “he got on my nerves” fool ya. I’ll tell you all about the day I realized how much they loved each other another time. All the times she would give poor old grandaddy hell telling him to suck in his stomach cause he looked fat hahahahaha. I’ll tell you about all that later.
I loved it when my grandfather came home. I started my day with grandma and her sisters in the garden and in the yard. I got to finish the day bugging grandaddy to let me help him build something. I would ask him, “what are you doing?” He would say “ just messin”. I never understood what he was really saying until I got older. Fast forward many years I had to come home and help my mom while she was disabled. She would ask me what are you doing. Instead of going through my thoughts of what I was doing and knowing there would be a barrage of questions that would follow from her. I would simply say “just messin”. I guess that is a country code phrase for I don’t really want to explain. Kinda like when someone says “bless your heart”. That could go many ways but if they say it about your baby hahahaha well.
I would follow grandaddy around bugging him to let me help. He would tell me sometimes with a little grin I was too little to do this and I would say “ am not”. He was strengthening my work ethic and making sure I would never let someone tell me I was not able to do something. We built many things around the farm together. I learned a ton from him. Now that I am older I wished I had learned more. I was young and the older I got the more dumb I became, just another “know it all youth”. I wish I could go back and really pay attention to everything he was doing. But what I learned was enough to inspire me and get me where I am today. Those days on the farm are worth more than my weight in diamonds and I would not trade it for anything. Realizing what a great environment a farm can be is what motivates me to start a learning center. I want to share these memories and skills with everyone. So many lesson from the farm have been applied to my life. It still amazes me how my grandparents are still teaching me today.