GENDUSA COLUMN: The Queen of Overdo

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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I will be the first to admit that I tend to go to extremes in almost everything I do.  This is what I refer to as ‘overdoing’ or going overboard.  It’s not about falling off a yacht into the ocean but diving into troubled waters with my friends and family.  Just ask me sometime about the day I decided to fry chicken for over 60 people, a classic example of going overboard.

It all began with Grandpa (aka my grandmother), the “Queen of Overdo.” On Sundays, she was out of bed by 4:30 a.m., when the entire family was coming for dinner or heading to the park for a reunion and picnic.  She was determined to make her family happy by serving them their favorite food.

My brother’s favorite was chocolate pie, while I loved banana pudding, and Mom loved blackberry cobbler.  My cousin, Pat, would only eat Pork n’ Beans, while his brother loved watermelon.  Uncle Donald loved biscuits, granddaddy adored cornbread, and an aunt was fond of Grandpa’s garden-grown green beans.

Everyone had their favorite Grandpa goodies, and everyone, whether 10 to 20 gathered, would find their personal delights when they arrived at Grandpa’s house.

I vividly recall her bustling in her kitchen, her apron cinched around her waist, as busy as a hive.  The Queen of Overdo never seemed to need a life raft.   My mother often protested, “Mom, you’re doing too much; we don’t need all this!” Yet, if my mother hadn’t spotted her blackberry cobbler on the counter, she would have surely pouted.

Yes, Grandpa and I could work overtime to finish a job or have an over-the-top festivity.  I doubt either one of us has an explanation for “why.”  God probably told Grandpa when she reached heaven while preparing the Lord an overabundant feast.

There could be underlying psychological reasons for those who go overboard to make someone feel special or cared for, but I’ve never seen our actions hurt anyone.  Yet, I have seen many who decide never to use the time or trouble to go the extra mile to aid another.

Could it be that overdoers crave validation, love, or recognition more than others?  I’ve often thought about this, and when I find myself going overboard, I’m unaware of my needs or insecurities.  Instead, I’m focused on how special the occasion is when we can celebrate each other.

Friends and family often try to decipher my intentions, but to me, it’s just who I am.  We each have our own lens through which we view life.  My time here is a continuous narrative, with each chapter representing an event that will impact someone with me now or in the future.

Grandpa made a difference in my life, and her mother made a difference in hers.  I recall my grandmother in the garden weeding around her growing vegetables and carefully checking the ripeness of her watermelons.  I see my great-grandmother cooking over a wood-burning stove in the heat of August but smiling when the cornbread turns golden.

When I touch the hand-sewn quilts I inherited, I think of the hours of painstaking work that created beauty for me to enjoy today.  Oh, yes, the quilts provided warmth, but now they invoke an appreciation for those who walked ahead of me and showed me that “overdoing” is what we often need to do in the hours we have.

The other day, I was looking carefully at one of those old quilts hanging over the back of my grandmother’s rocking chair.  I thought, “Shoot, maybe I could learn to quilt!”  I bought a book and a few yards of muslin, and when I began to study what I needed to do, I realized quilting was way over my overdoing talents.

When I noticed how many tiny hand stitches made up the quilt, I decided I didn’t have enough years left in my life to complete even a Barbie doll blanket.  So, I will just make 10 more pies and fry a few more chickens.  That always seems to bring delight to a group.

We often fill our time with selfish and trivial activities.  We watch television, argue about politics, shop excessively, and shout at sporting events.  While these activities are acceptable, are we focusing too much on the wrong things?  Has our pursuit of leisure and escapism distracted us from our responsibility to positively impact and spread more joy in the world?

Perhaps “overdoing” for others is the life raft needed to fill the world with a sea of love and keep ourselves from falling into troubled waters.


“So be careful how you act; these are difficult days.  Don’t be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good.”

Ephesians 5: 15-16