Yesterday I bought a box of Little Debbie honey buns. Today I’m ashamed to admit there are none left. I didn’t eat all of them by myself but I came pretty close. I don’t usually slow down while going past the junk food on aisle four but I had to make an exception when I saw those honey buns. November 28 would have been my Granny’s 94th birthday and she LOVED honey buns. So it was as if that box of calories and satisfaction had to come home with me. I needed to celebrate my Gran. Here is her story:
Eltra Roberts and her husband Hershel met my parents when I was one. She was a recently retired cook at the Hindman Settelment School (where my dad worked) and we “took” to each other. Apparently that was a big deal because according to my parents, I didn’t really like anyone. I’m sure they were exaggerating but if I did despise most grownups at that age, I’m thankful Granny was my one early exception. She became my babysitter and then later took care of my brother as well. I don’t think she made much money but it was obvious she never took on the job for financial reasons. We called her Granny and her husband Papaw. They were family just as much as our blood relatives. Their house was our playground and we were spoiled.
Granny was a tiny little woman who loved to garden, cook, and play with children. She made it clear that at her house we were to behave but we would almost always get whatever we wanted. I went through a phase of only eating chicken noodle soup, orange juice, and six vanilla wafers for lunch each day. Granny never gave me a hard time. I still think the orange juice at her house was special. I’ve never tasted any as good.
Gran was a devout Christian woman who belonged to the Old Regular Baptist Church. I never saw her cut her hair or wear pants. She loved her church and rarely missed a meeting. One year she refused to vote in a local election because she had told two opposing candidates, both of whom she had attended church with, that she would vote for them. She felt so guilty that she stayed home.
Sometimes I would spend the night with her. I remember getting to stay up until 10 p.m. (gasp!!) so we could watch “Dallas” together. I thought it was all very scandalous at the time. I can still see her living room with the furnace in the middle of the room, the couch against the wall, and pictures of me and my siblings hanging from the walls. I can also still feel how hot it always was, year round.
My Gran died not longer after her 86th birthday, before she could meet any of my girls. Her last three years were tough and my mom made it possible for her to stay in her own home. She would take her grocery shopping each week and fuss at Granny for buying more honey buns. I think she was up to three boxes a week toward the end. Granny loved having someone who cared so much for her and even loved the fussing over her Little Debbie addiction.
I was so lucky to have this extra grandparent in my life for almost 27 years. I think every year on November 28 I will rip open one, two, or maybe even three honey buns and celebrate one of the greatest ladies I ever knew. Then maybe I’ll find some old episodes of “Dallas”. I have a feeling Granny will curl up right next to me on the couch just like she did when I was a little girl.