Sittin’ at grandma’s table

Published 10:45 pm Thursday, May 25, 2017

By Steven Ray Bowen

There was nothing like coming home to Grandma.

We’re talking, of course, about the grand lady on Truitt Avenue who may well have been the world’s greatest cook.

Although Mama left us in 1973 – almost 30 years, to the day, before Grandma took her own journey – there still was nothing like coming home for those next three decades. Our hometown changed, of course, in October of 2003.

Once home, you didn’t have to wonder where you were.

No, it wasn’t the kudzu on the side of the road, or the tall pines, or the red clay, although those are some definite signs.

  But we always knew we were back home when we walked into that little red-brick house on Truitt – right down the street from the church – where lived the one lady who always treated us like a king, from the minute we walked in the door.

You never knew which would come first when you walked in: the hug or the menu. On one trip, she said,

“What’d you want tonight for supper? I’ve got collard greens, turnip greens, or mustard greens.”

I couldn’t help but to smile. I knew where I was.

No place but home. Nowhere but the South.

Nobody but Grandma.

For the better part of a week we always enjoyed the down-to-earth pleasures of being with Grandma. For breakfast: Eggs and grits and hot homemade biscuits with sorghum syrup and crisp bacon and coffee – cream and sugar, please – and orange juice.

Every morning.

That’s the gospel truth.

Grandma always had the eggs and biscuits on as soon as you woke up. There was no alarm clock because – for a rare few days in the year – your body got up when it was good and ready to get up, not a moment sooner.

Then, in the evening, look for hot cornbread with homegrown green beans, fresh corn, onion, and whatever the “greens” of the day was, all topped off with a glass of buttermilk and cornbread.

You understand (if you’re from the South, I mean).

After each meal, my family and I sat and talked with Grandma, then we’d clean off the table while she washed the dishes.

I might try to wash, but she’d refuse. I may have been the king, but she was always the boss.

We’d run around during the day – catching up with the boys down at the Y and Coca-Cola Mike and Glory — then when the sun retired, we always gathered together again, to sit and write or read, while Grandma caught up with the Apostle Paul or John the Revelator.

Ah, there was always something about coming home and breaking life down to its most simple elements, before heading back west and tackling a hundred Texas challenges that await.

They were healthy, those blessed coming-home Georgia trips, just like it’s healthy to sit at a table with mustard, turnip, or collard greens.

But the healthiest part of all, of course, was always sittin’ at Grandma’s table.