When I was a little girl in the South

When I was a little girl in the South, Sundays meant three things:

  • Sunday School and church;
  • Lunch at the Piccadilly with my parents and their friends; and
  • An afternoon of family time or service.

The latter could take many forms.  Often it was a Sunday drive, off through the countryside and up the Natchez trace, just a couple miles from our house.  Sometimes it meant a formal visit from our pastor, in the parlor that was reserved just for pastoral visits and grown-up company (I remember mostly the pro forma “hello” we children had to give him as he sat in the front room with my parents for what seemed like hours, while we scampered off to play in a room less resistant to our mess).  Sometimes my parents would go visiting the sick or the elderly. Sometimes, rarely, I think, they’d take us with them.

I remember these visits as if they were yesterday, the hours we spent with the couple who lived in Siam, the man outliving his wife by many years, and the stories he’d tell about his adventures and the beautifully smooth rock art that he brought home.  The afternoons spent quietly with Marty’s Grandpa, admiring the cross-stitched art that he and his wife made over many decades, inspiring me to take it up as a child too.  Sure, Grandpa Tom had family in town, but we just liked him, and we loved to visit him, as we had lost our last grandpa early.  There were other older folks from our church that we’d visit, many lost to my memory, but I’m sure not my mother’s, who cared for everyone.

Mom and Dad also spent many hours visiting the elderly in the hospital.  I wondered little about this, assuming it was something that grown folks do, and I don’t remember much about it one way or the other.  But when everyone was well or the visits were over quickly, we would sit and do puzzles together on a Sunday afternoon.

We did puzzles together a lot, my mother and I, and my grandmother when she visited us.  My Gramma, Phoebe Ann Rugh, was an amazing woman who even today takes my breath away with all she accomplished.  She was a single mother, widowed when her kids were small, just a little older than mine, and she made her living by opening an arts store in Pittsburgh just after World War II.  (Mom, I probably mangled this all to pieces.  I’m sorry.  I’m remembering what I can.)  She was kind.  More than anything else, she was kind.  She would sit at the kitchen table for hours with us, making puzzles, playing board games (oh, the Monopoly!), and crinkling that kind, kind smile at us as we learned to play with others.

I loved her.  Still do.

This weekend was incredibly hard.  We went to the museum on Friday, sure, but then I couldn’t do anything on Saturday, and Sunday’s accomplishments consisted of the following:

  • Sitting up in the recliner, and
  • Doing puzzles.

My children and I do puzzles now, because I am too weak to go outside and play, or even to go up the stairs very often.  I don’t know if we’ll be able to do our museum trip this week.  I hope we can.  But if not, I’ll sit here like my grandmother and so many before me, talking to friends who stop by and doing puzzles.

11 Responses to When I was a little girl in the South

  1. marty says:

    My granddaddy loved y’all so much. And I loved y’all for spending time with him.

    I’m coming soon. I promise. And I’ll bring lots of things to do sitting down. Or I’ll just talk a lot. I do that well too.❤

  2. magpie says:

    Card games? My grandmother taught me to play poker as a small person. Crazy eights works for your sized kids.

  3. Elaine says:

    Checkers was our game of choice. But my sister and I used to spend hours playing all manner of board games. Thanks for reminding me of this memory. Those were fun times.

  4. Alice C says:

    You are making memories – it doesn’t matter what you do provided the memory is of smiles, hugs and love.

  5. Kings on the Corner – that’s the game I played with my grandmother – and a stronger memory than any museum or outing with her. Nice post, Susan. Hope your energy returns as soon as possible and that the treatment kicks cancer’s butt instead of yours.

  6. NYFriend says:

    You continue to amaze me – what a beautiful way to tell all of us about your current challenge. I hope your strength returns soon.

    Happy Summer Solstice to you and the boys.

    Big (gentle) hugs to you…

  7. Becky says:

    We used to sit around the kitchen table with my grandma Simon and play Crazy Eights, Ol Maid, Go fish, Canasta, hearts, and other card games lost to my poor memory – but we sure did have fun!

  8. I was so excited when I saw the title because I love hearing other people’s memories of growing up in the South. What great memories you have.

    Oh, the Piccadilly. I LOVED the Piccadilly – they had green jello. But we were Catholics who lived in the “new” part of Birmingham and then Huntsville, so the Piccadilly was never close by. In Huntsville we would go to McDonald’s after church.

    Thanks for sharing your memories – and reminding the rest of us to take the time to make memories (especially of the Sunday afternoon puzzle variety) with our children.

  9. Kate @ upsidebackwards says:

    I claim much further South than you! 😉 My Gran and I used to play cribbage, or do huge jigsaws, while sitting at her big old oak dining table and drinking tea from bone china cups with saucers and matching plates. Thank you for reminding me of the special times.
    Lots of hugs and love to you… I hope the rest of the treatment goes as well as it can for you and knocks that cancer out for once and for all.

  10. Rebecca says:

    Susan,
    I liked to hear about your days with your grandmother. I remember the time with mine as well, the quiet days on her porch sitting and doing puzzles in Indiana. It is nice that you can have some quiet time with your kids right now. Our kids just like being with us in any way they can. I enjoy reading your blogs.

  11. Lynne Cunningham says:

    Ms. Neibur – I discovered your blog in 2008 when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 IDC. Your diagnosis is more virulent than mine was; I’m also much older than you, and my son is much older than yours – he was a senior in college when we made the call to him on a Sunday afternoon, so we are on different teams in the same division. I have always been intrigued with astronomy – driving my family to the lakefront in the middle of the night to see meteor showers, stopping in the middle of the highway in Arizona to watch the Hale Bopp comet, and my screen saver is shot from the Hubble. I’ve never known an astronomer or space scientist so for some reason I check out your blog regularly. I just wanted to let you know that you have touched me. Be better and keep on keeping on.

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