She was a huge baby person. She loved to hold them, tickle them, and give them anything they so much as looked at while they visited her home. If you were a child and you looked at a bar of gold on her counter while there...it was yours. My sister remembered that about her as we all laid her to rest two years ago. She was giving, if she was anything.
I thought my Ninny Austin was the best lady in the whole world. If I could have had her live with us I would have done it. Ha Ha One time she came to stay when my sister was born. She helped my mother clean and cook. I loved that time. Best week of my life. Ninny Austin was in our house. I never wanted her to leave.
Ninny Austin loved to laugh, but boy she also loved to scold. She would be the first person to tell you that you were wrong and the first to love on you even when you were. If you were the one in her path when she was on her mission of fixing you...you were in for it.
My mother was her second child. She helped my mother and father raise me. I was always loved on by her and given things she thought I needed like socks, shoes, and shoe powder. You had to know her. ;) I also had my stash of pj's because of her.
She would make lemon ice box pies and put them in the fridge. She did this because she knew I would get a spoon and stand in the door of the fridge and eat it a spoonful at a time. I loved that.
I remember washing her dishes in all cold water. My Aunt Liz noticed this and said something. My Ninny Austin told her to leave me alone that I was doing a great job cold water and all. I don't know if she ever rewashed them. I have a feeling she didn't. My help was good enough. She always made you feel good enough when you made an attempt to help her.
One of my favorite stories of her childhood was of the time she went into the chicken yard as a very little girl and wrung the neck of almost all the chickens. Her mother would say, "Lay an egg or I'll wring your neck", before she would kill the chicken they would have for supper. So, one day she decided to play little mother and she wrung those poor chickens. She told me that her sister Edith told her to hide because she didn't want their father to get to her. She said that Edith thought her so little and she didn't want her in trouble. If you had ever meet my great aunt Edith you would see how plausible this was.
I gather she was a very mischievous child because she was always telling of how her sister Edith would try to save her from her misdeeds. She also told me one day that she had become very ill as a little girl with about three different things at one time and they had thought she wouldn't make it. Someone that determined always makes it. HA HA
Ninny Austin would take me to the country with her for a day trip. This was a trip where we would visit her family. I only remember her father once during my young life. The memory of eating at his table stays with me. It wasn't like my table at home. I remember it being more rustic. He served me some sort of beef stew. I remember Ninny talking to him, but I don't remember him saying much. They were comfortable with each other and so I just ate my soup and waited to leave. I recall my feet dangling from the bench at the table. :)
My favorite part of visiting the country was going to Edith's house. She had lots of land and on that land was her daughter Donna. Donna was alot of fun for me.
After our day in the country Ninny would bring me home. I always felt special that I was the one who went with her on those adventures. She would also call up my mother and tell her to ready me for a trip to my Aunt Liz's house in Panama City. As we drove the coast line she would point out the window at the big buildings and ask me, "What are those, Chelita?" I would look, knowing what they were before I looked, and declare, "Oh, those are condimeeeeeniums!" If you don't speak little Chelita girl language that would be translated into, condominiums. I always loved that part. I felt like such a good and smart girl to pull off that monstrous word. ;)
My grandmother also loved for me to sing to her. I would call her up and sing to her over the phone if I missed her. She made me feel like a super star. Who needs a world to adore you when just one grandmother thinks your the best?
As she and I both aged we grew apart for various reasons. I ached for her through the years. Talked to her now and again. Remembered the woman that was such a fixture of my childhood.
One day my mother called me and told me to hurry home as quickly as I could. I never had the money or my car wasn't working. Something always came up. I guess I thought I had forever. I told my mother to tell her to give me til January. The first of January came and I didn't have the money to go. It just never worked out. I did speak to her on the phone and she and I had a healing moment I believe. If only she could have lived a while longer after that call. But I now know she was telling me goodbye and she wanted our last moments together to be beautiful.
My mother called me back that January...very soon after that call...to say my Ninny had passed on to Jesus. I had waited to long. I had thought my Ninny would always make it back home. I had missed the chance to see her hold my boys one last time or to snuggle her close...to smell her.
I can never regain that back. That last time to touch her to laugh with her in person. To have that forgiveness talk we had on the phone sitting face to face. I beseech you to call the person this blog post is reminding you of. If you feel a pull on your heart to call or drive over to someone and to just be with them even if it is hard, please do so. Don't think you have the time to do it.
My Ninny wanted to see me. I will always believe she waited on me. She gave me until January. I should have went that month. I should have packed my car, chanced the drive, and eaten ramen for a few weeks.
I remember not having the money to go home. But I went home...even if too late. To stand by my mother and to help her put her to rest. It wasn't ideal. But I made her important enough for the last time I could. I went home for her and only her. To help her daughter to say goodbye. It was the least I could do.
The funeral was beautiful. But a sadness that my boys didn't really know GiGi will never leave me.
I will not share what she and I said that last phone call...it is just too precious for me to give it wings and allow you all to share in it. Just know it was good. It is the only thing that kept me sane after she left. Thank God for that moment.
Since she is gone I need to talk to Jesus for a moment...
Jesus, I need you to go and find my Ninny Austin, pull her close to you and tell her I am sending this to her. Tell her she is my Valentine. Tell her I thank her for adventures to the country and Panama City. I enjoyed our meals of fried chicken and mashed potoatoes as we did so. Tell her I crave a spoon in my hand and a pie in the fridge. Tell her I never will forget the magic of our days together. Tell her...I will see her soon. Tell her about my sweet baby Noah. Tell her, I love her, and hug her the way I would have. Tell her I may never sing in the Grand Ole Opry the way she wanted me to, and I never did learn the guitar, but I am enjoying the life where God planted me. Tell her I miss day dreaming with her so very much.