Family Stories, Reruns and Leftovers, Southern Living

Nothing To Complain About

After three months of freezing weather, too much cookie dough and entirely too much plenty of togetherness at the House of Antique, I am feeling the urge to complain. I am not a winter person. It seeps into my bones and settles into my soul. Like a chest cold. (Correction: Someone just mentioned that it hasn’t been three months, just three days. Sorry. My bad.) Ironically it was just this time last year I was feeling the same way. After I dislodged my nose from my navel I wrote the following post.

Ode To Granny McKee

Dear Granny McKee,

You had long passed away by the time I married into your family, but I feel like I know you from the stories your children and grandchildren like to tell of you. Now that I have a child of my own, it is all the more that I admire you.

On those days when I’m exhausted from the constant struggle of trying to shape one pint-sized caveman into a civilized human being and I’m up to my eyeballs in self-pity, I try to imagine what your life was like living out on the North Texas prairie in the early years of the century with seven children. It is then that I sober up and laugh at the absurdity of my mistaken notion of hardship.

Sometimes I feel put upon to have to make yet another trip to the store (in my nice car and with my bottomless credit card) to buy disposable diapers and wipes to manage the never-ending cycle of diapers. Then I think of you with your two sets of twins less than three years apart. No indoor plumbing and no electricity — nothing but a bucket of water from the well and a scrub board. I know you could tell me a thing or two about never-ending diapers.

Then there are times I imagine myself a martyr because I occasionally sacrifice the few hours of free time I have in a week to lend someone a hand. But then I recall my mother-in-law telling me how as a little girl she would hear you leave the house in the middle of the night to go deliver a baby or care for someone who was sick or to sit up with the dead, as they did in those days. I guess the fact that I no longer have time to sit down and read a novel anymore doesn’t really qualify as a sacrifice, does it?

You would probably find it ridiculous that I groan about having to go to the grocery store when everything on your table was put there after a season of planting, tending, harvesting, peeling, chopping and cooking. And when the Texas skies were stingy with the rain, as they often are, then even all that work didn’t yield enough to feed nine mouths sufficiently. Your children like to tell of how never a Sunday passed that you didn’t invite the traveling preacher and his family home for Sunday dinner and then how afterwards you would send them on their way with a basket of leftovers. In spite of having to work so hard for so little, you shared what little you had, often at the expense of your own family.

And after you had raised all of your seven children and were at a point in your life when you could indulge your own desires, you raised your oldest grandson, who in my book is one of the finest men I know. Except for Sarah Lee pound cake in your later years, self-indulgence was something with which you were unfamiliar.

Thank you Granny McKee for the example of your noble life. I am so proud that my son shares in your heritage. I pray that he has inherited your steely spine and your heart for sacrifice and service.


Sean’s Mom

29 thoughts on “Nothing To Complain About

  1. Beautifully written.

    My great grandmother, who died when I was about 11, was that kind of woman. What an inspiration, if I will just allow myself to be inspired.

    Stay warm!

  2. Just yesterday, I posted about what blessings our modern conveniences are (not as eloquently as you, though). It is unbelieveable to think what most people throughout history did just to make it through the day!

  3. I quoted you today on my blog. I hope you don’t mind. I am a lurker here. You have a very handsome son and delightful writing style.
    Have a good snow day!

  4. What a beautiful post. I think that just because our lives aren’t THAT hard doesn’t mean that they’re not sometimes hardish. But yes, I’m certainly glad that I’m not a pioneer woman – I suspect that I’d be dead within minutes.

  5. that was beautiful and so true. But I have also been stuck in the house for 3 days due to this cold weather in Texas (I am in Austin) and have to agree with you that it is miserable.


    And the thing is, that’s all Granny knew so she didn’t realize what she was missing. I remember alone time. I remember warmth. I remember having a couch that didn’t smell like spit up breast milk. That’s the big problem. damn memory!

  6. What a wonderful read on a blustery day. I was so fortunate to have my grandmother in my life until I was in my mid thirties. She died at 106 years old with a good mind, a love for God like no other, and a tired heart that had just beat too many beats. She taught me SO SO much and I hope I never forget all the stories of her past. Thanks for making me think about her a little more than I usually do. Great story…makes us feel a little ashamed.

  7. That was beautiful. Stories like that make me so much more appreciative of how easy things we have everything these days. Sometimes I wonder if I would’ve been a woman like that if I’d been born back then, I hope so.

  8. I need to get a grip!

    What a beautful letter of perspective. Thanks for letting us in on it.

    I’m off to surrender my self-pity-partying-ways to an attitude of gratitude for my dishwasher, minivan, and endless supply of crayons. I truly do live in abundance and luxury. I truly do.

  9. I love this post. My grandmother was raised in a family of 18. Yes, 18. There were 4 sets of twins. This was a farming family in Mineral Wells, Texas. Not all of the children made it to adulthood, as was all too common in those days. I cannot even imagine what my great grandmother’s days were like. When I’m feeling all face down in the carpet, I need to remember how very blessed I am to be living in this day and age. And I will hug my coffee maker.

  10. You have (again) beautifully summed up what I often think of my own grandmother and great-grandmother. They were mom and child of the depression, and when I am upset that my day seems to go by so quickly, I remember that theres were sometimes endless with back-breaking work. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

  11. Oh, how precious. This is something I really needed to read today – the morning is just halfway over, and I’m already complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day.
    Thank you!

  12. Thank you for the touching reminder of all I have to be thankful for. It’s necessary to be reminded that we stand on the shoulders of giants. We really do.


  13. Absolutely beautiful and wise and wonderful. She reminds me of my Grandmother. They were very special women. I often think if she could hear me sign and say “I have to do the laundry.” she would die laughing. As if pushing a few buttons equates to hauling out the old wash board. Our lives are so easy compared to theirs. Great post!!

  14. Awesome post! I was just starting to blow up the balloons for my own pity party when I read this. Kinda like last night when my boys went with their scout troop to make sandwiches for the Presbyterian Night Shelter which was bursting with people trying to get out of the cold. And my youngest kid had skipped dinner before scouts and, on the way home, said that he was “starving”. Then, he realized what he had said. Perspective. Thanks.

  15. Gosh, another beautiful post. You amaze me.

    I recently shared all of your “Tuna” posts with my husband, and he laughed & laughed and then commented on your beautiful writing, as well.

    So add yet another fan to your ever-growing list.

  16. How wonderful to have those family stories. Yes, I need to remember more often how easy life really is, even when it seems so hard with a 3 year old. I’m so grateful for the sacrifice of people – not that long ago.

  17. oh…well, then….I think perhaps maybe I should kinda get to work….

    ….and also post this on the refrigerator.

    “Her children arise and call her blessed;”
    (Can you imagine having your great-grandchildren-in-law calling you blessed? What a beautiful thing it is!)

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