Chantel’s and my grandmother passed away last night. While sad, this life was a stepping stone and she is now with the Lord.
While on this earth, she instilled in me such pride. She was born in Tampa in March 1917. While most families may have a couple generations in this area, my grandmother wasn’t even the first Tampa native. Her mother, Edna Miley, was born in the Dade City hotel in 1884. Grandma was a virtual history book of Tampa. She grew up with many of the immigrants that gave Tampa its heritage. I remember her brother, my Uncle Ray, was able to speak italian. She thought that her cooking style was unique and, frankly, it was. She coined the phrase “cracker-tali” to describe the way she cooked. Naturally, this was a mixture of our deep southern roots (yes, Florida is a southern state – don’t get me started) and her Italian neighbors.
Every New Year’s Day, our family would get together for a meal and grandma cooked her speciality. Sweet and sour pork chops with rice, black-eyed peas, and hushpuppies. Chantel and I will swear that this is one of our favorite meals of all-time. The worst thing is … it cannot be handed down to our generation. Our entire family has tried. Chantel even stood right next to grandma and watched her prepare the meal and it still cannot be duplicated. I think the pan she used was laced with something that made it extra special.
Without question, my grandma was a southern woman. The strength and toughness of her resolve was incredible.
- She raised her children as a single mother.
- She took care of her mother until she passed at the age of 92.
- She worked for TECO for more than 30 years.
- She taught Sunday School and was a leader with the Womens Missionary Union (WMU)
- She visited the Holy Land more than once.
- She could tell jokes and knew a ton of them.
- She would allow boarders to live in her home and expected them to be as disciplined and principaled as she was.
- She lived independently and could drive a car into her nineties.
- She would travel to help friends. I remember every year she would go help friends in Georgia with their harvest.
There is more but I feel a little weird about writing all this. Perhaps, I just want Jack to remember his G’G’ma and this will help remind me of her. Truth be told, I was certain that she would outlive all of us.
I guess what I am saying is – I am proud to be her grandson. After all, I was her favorite.