Sadie’s Short Stories (SSS): Great-Grandmother’s Texan Memories (Part I)

An old woman sat by her window, her white hair laid back in a little bun at the base of her head. Her sagging skin was tanned after many days in the sun. Outside the wind blew over the driveway, the barn and shed lay to the west of the main house. Their Australian Shepherd, Brock, lay in the shade of the willow tree in the front yard. The grass was green, the sky blue, everything in nature looked light-hearted. The sun softly touched the leaves of the tree shading the window at which Ellinor sat. 

“Gama!” A voice from the stairway called. A young girl’s voice, soft and filled with sweet laughter. The girl came running up the narrow stairway that led to her Great Grandmother’s room. “There you are! Did you hear! Father is getting a used truck!” The girl’s cheery laughter rang throughout the room. “It is going to be dark blue, and its tires are about new.” The girl came and pulled a small chair beside Eleanor’s large green rocking chair. The room was simple, a small wooden bed, with a straw tick. Their family couldn’t afford electricity, with so many mouths to feed and all. They used Kerosine lamps that they bought used from a resale shop in the small community a good distance away. The walls had dingy flowered wallpaper covering them, the floor made of wood. Sometimes her great-granddaughter, Gail, would snag her bare feet on the wood and Pa would have to take them out. 

“That’s nice dearie.” Eleanor could feel the calluses that lined the young girl’s hands. Ten-year-olds hands should not be so worn. But this time and age everyone had to pitch in, just like she had to when she lived on the range in Texas when she was a young girl. The small hand fit nicely into her old worn one.

“You don’t seem excited.” The girl’s voice lost its cheery tone, the girl’s wide smile faded. Her dress was worn from the many years she had worn it. She wasn’t the youngest though, she had two younger brothers and two older ones. All the people in the house amounted to six. That included Gail’s brothers, her Pa and Ma, and her Great grandmother, which she affectionately called Gama. Their family was used to being poor, with many mouths to feed, many people had it worse. They farmed, like many people in the community, and a truck was vital to moving the produce and animals across the acreage of their farm. When Pa went to town, which wasn’t often, he would have to use his old tractor to haul everything out there. It took too much gas, which was already rationed, and it was too slow. A truck would help the family to earn more money, and maybe she could ride it to school. It wasn’t likely though, all the same. Some years they went to school, other years they couldn’t afford to send all of the Warren children to school. 

Eleanor could sense Gail’s dissatisfaction with her answer, and she thought it over. A truck would be nice, but she never did get out much anymore, she usually got in the way of the others working. “Gama, are you listening?” Gail had just finished a long speech she had prepared to get her to understand the need for a truck. But her words fell on deaf ears. Her great-grandmother’s ears were fine, but she was blind. Gail never knew why her grandmother looked out the window. She couldn’t really see anything. Gail wished she could give her eyes to her Gama, But she just described everything to her. She was her Gama’s eyes. “Gama, tell me about the house you used to live in when you were a little girl?” She saw her great grandmother’s dimmed eyes light up, and her posture straightened from it’s usual hunched position. Her grandmother’s once blue eyes were now a dull gray, but they still lit up when she was happy. Her round face couldn’t be seen beneath her sagging skin, and her calico dress lay lip around her now useless legs. Her small frame was wrapped in a large quilt that had been in the family for more than five generations. Eleanor’s grandmother had given it to her, and she was going to Gail when she turned of age. 

“Alright dear, but are you willing to sit here that long, I can tell you are energized, my precious.” Eleanor favored Gail above her other siblings. She knew that she shouldn’t have favorites, but she wasn’t her favorite, she just enjoyed Gail’s company more than her other great-grandchildren. “Well, it all started when I was born in 1865, only two months after the Civil war ended. My mother had only me and my brother. My brother was ten years older than me, but he still played with me when he got older. My brother fought in the Great war also, and he died of Black lung disease in 1930, only five years before you were born. He would have been seventy-five.” Her voice faltered, and tears came to her dimmed eyes. How she missed her brother. He had been her only sibling, and he was so dear to her. When he came home from the Great war, they praised God. Many men didn’t come home when they were deployed.  

“Gama! I wanted to learn about you! Not that I don’t like learning about great, great uncle Robert. It’s just I want to know about YOUR childhood. Lots of detail, please.” Her blonde hair was tied in two pigtails, her lips turned in a little pout. Her great grandmother squeezed the small hand in hers and smiled. 

“Alright dear, let me continue. Now don’t interrupt. Okay, now, where was I. Ah yes. I was a little girl in a west Texas town called Bittercreek. It’s long gone now, only a few old buildings left. The last time I was there I went with my brother Robert back on my fiftieth birthday. We went to visit the old ranch, which we called the Bright skies ranch. All the time the sky was lit with either the large sun or the bright constellations.” She smiled and thought of the times she would sit with her father under a large Ponderosa tree on their grazing land. Her father would point out the many constellations that covered the sky. She remembered her father’s face as he would sit looking over his ranch. He had dark curly hair, his face usually covered with day-old stubble. Her father had taught her to ride and how to break horses. Eleanor was supposed to inherit the ranch because her brother was given another ranch west of their land.

“Gama, tell me about your ma. Wasn’t she pretty, like you?” Gail crawled into Eleanor’s lap, snuggling up against her great-grandmother’s rough calico blouse. Eleanor softly stroked Gail’s soft hair. She could smell fresh soap on the girl’s hair, and she smiled as she remembered her mother.

“Yes dearie, I was getting to that.” Her soft Texan drawl could still be distinguished even from living in Kentucky for twenty years. “Well, my mother was skinny, short, with long, straight dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. Like I did and so did your mother and you.” She couldn’t see her Gail, but she could sense the girl’s pride as she snuggled closer into her. “Well, she also was a very organized person. She was very bubbly and talkative, she always was the one to run the ranch, the housekeeping, and cleaning anyway. She taught me to clean and cook. She taught me to sew and how to become a housewife. That’s what she was, and not like the women nowadays, which work in factories or shops. Most women stayed at home and ran the family business, such as your ma.” She could hear Gail’s Ma bustling about downstairs, probably getting dinner ready for the men. It was later in the day, the sun already heading to the west side of the sky. Her window looked out to the north, so she could see the many hills that covered the countryside. 

“Time to eat!” She could hear Gail’s Ma call for them.

Thanks so much for reading Part I of Great-Grandmother’s Texan Memory. I hope that you enjoyed it, and I hope you come and read Part II of this story as well. I love writing these short stories, and I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as enjoy writing them, hopefully even more. Thanks again, and don’t forgot to stay updated on all our new blog posts! -Sadie and the Singlers


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