111

mama and grampsThe couple pictured here, on their 50th wedding anniversary, are my maternal grand-parents, Sam and Vera Bellamy.  Most of you would have no reason to know them.

My grand-father was the finest man I have ever known, he loved God, his family and friends above all else.  He was a loyal man who I never heard utter a negative word about anyone.

My grand-mother, Ma-ma, was the second most important woman in my life, just behind my mother, allow me to tell you about her.

As a young child I spent a lot of time with my ma-ma, my mother spent weeks at a time in the hospital as a result of injuries from a car accident and as the youngest child in our family, I spent my days underfoot of my grandmother.

Ma-ma never worked outside the home, but she was the consummate homemaker running a tight-ship where everything had a place, a home-cooked meal was on the table each night at 6 and she did all this dressed to the nines.

Some of my favorite memories are sitting at my grand-parents kitchen table for breakfast with my ma-ma.  During our morning routine, we would have toast with homemade strawberry jam and she would pour me a cup of coffee while we talked.  The “coffee” consisted of a few drops of coffee and an abundance of milk.  We would sit at the table, plan our day and talk.  Unbeknownst to me, those morning breakfasts were laying the ground-work to my character and passions of life.

We spent hours in ma-ma’s flower garden, making sure each bloom of gladiola, chrysanthemum and rose was nurtured and cut to be arranged at just the perfect moment.

A couple of afternoons each week we would bake.  A pound-cake or pie or some other delicacy that would be our dessert for the coming meals.  Always from scratch, always delicious.

As the youngest of four grand-children, I was sure I was her favorite, but ma-ma had a way of making us all feel like we were the one, yet still today I like to think I held the top spot.

She pampered us all, when she found us playing cowboy and indians on the gas tank in the back-yard, she sewed us all costumes to make it more authentic.  She designed and made all of our special outfits, Easter, Christmas, birthdays, my brother’s prom tuxedo, there was nothing she couldn’t sew that looked better than anything you could find in a department store.

As much as she pampered, she didn’t tolerate foolishness.  If you were caught misbehaving part of your punishment was to go outside and cut your own hickery that she would use to swat across your legs.

The memories I have of my ma-ma are cherished, she gave me an appreciation of baking, flowers and quiet moments with those you love.  She taught me to honor the past and cherish mementos from times gone by.

Ma-ma was always an important part of my life, as I got older I made sure to call her every week to check in.  When I went away to college I could expect a weekly note, card or letter in my post office box and my visits home always included a stop to see she and my grandfather.

I had a connection with my ma-ma that is hard to describe, we just clicked and could talk for hours on end or just sit together and not say a word, it didn’t matter, it was cherished time together.

As her health began to fail, I was living in Atlanta.  When she was at her worst, she would be admitted to Emory Hospital in Atlanta and we were able to spend quality time together.

On the evening before her death, I had gone to visit her.  Knowing our time was short, I sat in the room, alone with her.  During those finals minutes I was able to tell her how much she meant to me and how much I cherished our days together.

As we sat in her room that evening, I held an Ensure bottle to her lips while she sipped her final meal.  The next day, around 1PM she was gone.

I miss my ma-ma, I am thankful for the life she led and the lessons she taught me, but most of all, I am thankful for her simple acts of kindness and love than she showed me each day of my life.

It’s now been many years since she passed, but I still find myself thinking of her when I do something that reminds me of our times together.

Rarely do I see a beautiful garden of flowers that I don’t think of her backyard beauties.

Holiday planning always includes special treasures that came from her home and I can feel her presence during family gatherings.

I loved my ma-ma and appreciate the lessons she taught me, I am forever grateful for our times together.  I look forward to the day when we will again sit together, in the most beautiful flower garden you can imagine, we’ll have a cup of coffee and a piece of pound cake and we’ll talk.

Today is her birthday, if she had lived she would be 111 years old.  In honor of the life lived by Vera Clark Bellamy, my ma-ma, I just thought you should know about her.

Christmas Isn’t What It Used to Be

424878_10200164151810827_1186564770_nToday, as I packed away the decorations from Christmas, I was swept up with emotion, as I reflected on the memories of the past month.

SImple moments of laughter, tears and love that had woven together to form the tapestry of Christmas 2012.  I couldn’t help but think back to what my mother used to tell me, “it’s not about the presents, it’s about the memories.”

This year, the simple memories of Christmas touched my heart in a more profound way than ever.  It’s true, the memories of Christmas are so much more important than the presents, I realized this year that Christmas isn’t what it used to be.

Growing up, my mother made sure that Christmas was a special time of year for all of us.  Even after Tom died, every nook was decorated and every gift presented with love.

Mama was at her best during the Christmas season and she worked diligently to make sure that we all felt the beauty of the season.  In our house we learned that Christmas wasn’t only about the gifts we received under the tree, but more importantly it was about the gift received in a stable centuries before.

This year I was especially touched by the small moments of Christmas that will engulf my memories for years to come.

I have watched the neighborhood children grow up from newborns filled with the excitement of Santa,  to pre-teens doubting the magic of Christmas.  This year I caught myself saying “as long as you believe in Santa Clause he will still come,” on multiple occasions.  This reassuring phrase delivered to me by my parents was now being passed along, memories of Christmas past seeping into today’s celebration.

This year as in year’s past our work team gathers together for a breakfast and secret Santa exchange.  It is nice to let down the walls of our busy workday and celebrate the season with a work family that makes me better on a daily basis.

I open the mailbox with daily anticipation to see the photo cards of families I have known since I was a child.  Watching these families grow and expand has been a joy for me that has enhanced memories of a lifetime.

Opening the ornament boxes of my grandmother and being overcome with the memories of my families history puts a perspective on the holiday.  The memories sewn into each ball and figurine have been enhanced through the decades of use.

Some of my favorite memories of Christmas 2012, are reflectant of the smallest moments.  A two-hour car ride with my niece who has grown into a young woman of substance and promise.  Her future is bright, but her perspective on what is important is fine tuned with the sense of purpose for someone much older than her 22 years.

My yearly lunch with a dear friend who moved away from Florida several years ago.  This year she was forging through her first Christmas without her mother, fresh off the memories of my own loss just a few years prior, I hope I was able to help her see the joys of memory and the promise of a new kind of Christmas.

Gathering as a family at mama and daddy’s house as we have done our entire lives for Christmas Eve dinner always fills me with memories that keep me warm through the year.  We laugh and joke through the night, we feast on BBQ and we open gifts, it is a tradition that has been transcendent through my lifetime and I hope will continue for generations to come.

For year’s after Tom died, mama and daddy would place a poinsettia on his grave on Christmas Eve and remove it on Christmas morning.  This year, as I have over the past three Christmases, I have joined daddy in this morning ritual.  We now place two poinsettia, one for mama and one for Tom, this gesture provides a time of reflection that I appreciate now more than ever.

After daddy’s health scare of the Fall, my greatest joy was us being together this Christmas.  Just the simple act of joining hands around the table or riding through God’s Country was enhanced ten-fold in appreciation for him coming through his illness.

While many moments touched me, the greatest was a simple tradition we have held in our family for over 20 years.  When Chelsea was born, mama bought a pop-up book of the Christmas story.

Each year after Christmas Eve dinner, our family has gathered around the tree for the reading of the story prior to gifts being unwrapped.  When Chelsea learned to read, the book was passed on to her.

After Zack was born and learned to read he was tasked with sharing the story of the babies birth with our family.  For over 20 years, this pop up book has been a focal point in our tradition.

This year, when it was time to read the story of the Baby Jesus birth, we took our seats and Zack began to read.

As I listened to the words of the story, I was warmed by memories of Christmas’s past, I could feel the presence of my mother as I gazed at her photo just over Zack’s shoulder.  As my eyes filled with tears, I couldn’t help but think back to the words that have been engrained in me my entire life….  “it’s not about the presents, it’s about the memories.”

This year more than ever before I got it, I truly got the meaning of Christmas, it’s not about presents, it’s not about the build up, the pressures to be perfect or the anticipation of the day……it’s about love, memories and legacy.

Christmas isn’t what it used to be….. it’s better!

What’s Cooking – Lemon Sqaures

For the most part the Christmas treats have been cooked and delivered.  I took tins of sweets to the office team and a few friends.  Pound cakes, cookies, brownies, sausage balls, sugar pecans and miscellaneous other dessert favorites.

This year, the favorite seemed to be Lemon Squares.  This is a simple recipe that mama and ma-ma used to make.

Lemon Squares:

1 box lemon cake mix

1 egg

1/2 cup butter

1 cup pecans, chopped

8 oz. cream cheese

2 eggs

1 box confectioners sugar

Stir together cake mix, 1 egg, butter and pecans.  Press into a greased 13 x 9 pan.  Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs and confectioners sugar.  Pour over crust and bake at #25 for 30 minutes or until brown.

(I didn’t take a photo… I know, I take photos of everything, but not this!  Below is a photo I snagged from Google, but it is representative of the Lemon Bar.)

lemon bar

 

 

Who Knew….

I had no idea…. today is my One Year Anniversary with WordPress.

I moved this blog over from my old Blogger account after several years there.  You may get a link to my old blog here.

It has been fun at WordPress and I plan on sticking around for a while longer!

Thanks to everyone for the support, the great reading and the new friendships!

Chocolate cupcake with #1 candle, and colourful sprinkles.

What’s Cooking…. Sour Cream Pound Cake

One of the dishes I will be taking for Thanksgiving to this year’s neighborhood feast is a pound cake.

Growing up mama and ma-ma used to make three different kinds….  traditional plain pound cake, cream cheese pound cake and sour cream pound cake.

I have been torn as to which one I wanted to take.  Plain was out of the running, the choice is between sour cream and cream cheese.

Last night I decided to make a Sour Cream Pound Cake and bring it to work today as a test.  The cake is easy enough to make and SO good….  but I think I am leaning towards the cream cheese for Thanksgiving.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

1 c. butter, softened

2 3/4 c. sugar

6 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

3 c. flour, sifted 2 times (I use Self-Rising so I don’t sift)

1/4 tsp. soda (I didn’t have any baking soda so I skipped this and the cake fell a bit)

8 oz. sour cream

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition.  Alternately add flour and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour.  Add soda and flavorings.  Bake in a greased and floured tube pan at 300 for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from pan immediately.

So here it is, there was some fall and sticking on the sides….  it isn’t pretty but it IS mighty tasty!

** The beautiful clear plate under the cake was a gift from the incomparable Jan Norris, food writer extraordinaire!  Jan, a wonderful southern lady, brought me a cake on this dish when mama died.  If you aren’t doing so, you should be reading her blog www.jannorris.com