As a young girl, my grandma would give my sisters and me a new package of panties for Christmas. I always thought that was so strange. But I loved my MawMaw. She made the best fried chicken and banana pudding. She never sat down to eat, too busy always taking care of others. Always a smile on her face and kind words on her lips.
Like many other MawMaws, she was born in the 20’s. She got married as a young teenager, and her husband soon left to go fight in WWII and then the Korean War. Theirs truly was a different, different world. A world that cherished new panties.
I’m 34 now, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that the importance of a new package of panties became so real to me. When you’re struggling to just put food on the table. When your husband has to go hunting, not for antlers, but for the year’s meat supply. When you only have $10 to spend at Goodwill for your kids’ Christmas. That’s when a new package of panties begins to gain esteem.
I wish I would have spent more time with MawMaw. I wish I would have soaked her memories up like a sponge. This little country woman who could pluck the strings off a guitar, fiddle, mandolin, or bass. This little country woman who raised 7 kids, making it through young motherhood, changing cloth diapers and praying, while her husband was off fighting wars. She was the praying grandma that everyone wishes they had. She had a different life before she was a grandma. She knew that it was going to take prayer. And seeing it through. She knew the importance, the joy of a new package of panties.
Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. I miss my MawMaw. She’s in there somewhere, perhaps picnicking, playing the guitar, maybe even frying chicken. Maybe she’s replaying a Christmas in her mind when she was excited to get a new package of panties.