Archive for the ‘THE HOBB’ Category

Since I was a small girl, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday.  When I was little, Gramma would pull up a chair for me to stand in and let me help her cook. I learned to make a lot of dishes that way, but Thanksgiving was special. After helping her “prepare” dinner, we would make place mates or name cards for the family coming to eat.   Soon, my aunt and uncle would show up with my cousins and we’d be ushered to the yard to play until dinner time if it wasn’t too cold.  If it was too cold, we would go play in our bedroom.  My sister and cousins and I would create all sorts of games and scenarios to keep us busy. Sometimes, we’d talk my uncle in to playing with us because he would rough house and toss us around.  My mom may or may not show up, but when I was little, most of the time she found her way home for holiday meals.

I always liked it when my gramma and her daughters (my mom and aunt) were together because they’d start telling stories about people they used to know and old memories.  It was one of the few times I would be still and quiet so they wouldn’t notice me, and I could eavesdrop on them.  We would eat so much that I always joked about wearing sweatpants on that day.  That night, sometimes Kelli’s friend would come over and we’d eat leftovers and goof off. Friday, we ALWAYS ate turkey clubs and chips, made the RIGHT way, according to her, with 3 slices of toast.

Gramma died right before the holidays and it was heart-wrenching for me.  She loved the holidays as much as I did. She loved cooking for everyone and having all of us at the house. The year before she died, she became obsessed with Thanksgiving dinner, the actual meal.  We had several turkeys in the freezer, and periodically throughout that year, she would want to cook a Thanksgiving feast, with all the fixings and trimmings, invite family over and be together.  It was exhausting, but she knew her time left with us was limited, and she wanted to make the most of it.  So I obliged her.  I got up at the crack of dawn (because Thanksgiving meals were ALWAYS at 1:00 p.m., as well as most holiday or Sunday dinners), get the turkey prepped and in the oven for her.  I only started with the really intensive help after she broke several glass pie plates and baking dishes getting a baking dish out for a casserole.  She would do the lighter stuff: peel potatoes, mash them after they were cooked, prepare the sweet potato casserole, etc. I handled the stuffing, the turkey, most of the other veggies, the bread and the actual being in the kitchen.  We got her an extra-long oxygen tube so she could get to the kitchen and still be able to breathe, but it was still exhausting for her.

I grumbled about it to friends and some family, but never to her.  I knew it was important to her.  Now, 7 years later, I am thankful that she and I had that time together and that I was able to make her happy.   Now, I am married and my husband and I got married a week after Thanksgiving.  We are starting our own family traditions and ways of doing things. I hope one day, if we’re blessed enough to have any children, that I can make holidays fun and memorable for them.  We are starting this year by taking our first holiday trip, a tradition I hope to continue one day.

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I was just looking at my cat, Gus, thinking, “I have known you all but 3 weeks of your little kitty cat life”.  That got me thinking, about who I have known all of their lives, from the minute they were born.  Then I started thinking about who has known me since I was born. At this point, the only person who has known me all the years I was alive during their life time was my gramma. We lived together the first 18 years; I went to college and came home to live with her for the next 18.  Even in college or when I was out of town, there wasn’t a full week that went by that we didn’t at least talk on the phone.  I can’t say that about anyone else.  I have known my niece and nephew since they were born, my cousins, my sister, but there have been gaps in the times I have been in communication with them. 

This isn’t the first time, that I have gotten teary-eyed thinking that the person I loved the most on the planet isn’t here.  The person who drove me crazy, made me laugh, encouraged me, scolded me is gone. The one person who was always there.  If you have a one person who is always there, don’t lose that.  My cousin can say that about her children.  She is always there for them.  She knows what’s going on in their lives.  She loves them unconditionally.

I know lots of people who are close to their parents and talk weekly, monthly, daily.  I know that my friends and others might think I “wasted” my youth living with Gramma, caring for her, dealing with her when others couldn’t and wouldn’t. I have never felt that way.  I have never regretted keeping her with me until literally the minute she died.  It is the thing I am proudest of, and not to toot my own horn, but I have plenty to be proud of, but this is it for me. 

She would have been 83 this year, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I do think about her daily.  More days than not it’s to laugh about something silly she did or said.  Sometimes, I see an older lady in a grocery store, drug store, restaurant, sitting at a bus stop, and I suck in my breath because they strike a resemblance or dig up a lost memory. I have gotten past the crying every time I talk about her stage of grieving, but holidays are still not as fun as they once were, and her birthday is no exception.  We always celebrated our birthdays big in my family.  For her 75th birthday, I called all over town to find a florist who would deliver 75 gladiolas to her.  Most just didn’t have that many, but one older woman was so touched by it, that she tracked down 75 for me and delivered them all.  When I got home, Gramma said, “Well, I guess I know what my funeral will be like”.  She loved them, but a morbid sense of humor is a family trait.

She loved cardinals as well.  Whenever I see one, I take that as a greeting from her, a little, “You’ll be fine”. So, tomorrow or any other day if you see a cardinal, just know that I’ll be fine. 




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I am going to tell you now, if you fall, I will laugh at you. It’s a family trait.  When I was in college in Charleston, I laughed constantly.  For those of you who don’t know, the entire campus, and much of downtown is paved with bricks, which settle unevenly all the time.  People, including me and my friends, were constantly tripping, and yes falling.  Yes, I DID LAUGH.  It is unavoidable.

When I was younger, my gramma (THE HOBB) worked at the hospital in the canteen, she was the general manager, so whenever anything came up, she had to be there.  I spent late nights sleeping in booths because she had to be there when janitorial stripped and re-waxed the floors.  I went there every single day after school.  Everyone knew me because I was so NOT shy even as a kid.  Well, this one winter when I  was about 8, there was a rare snow/ice storm in Columbia. THE HOBB had to be at the hospital canteen because some of her workers couldn’t be there.  So, since school was canceled, my little sister  and I had to go with her.

Did I mention that we didn’t have a car when I was growing up?  We took the city bus everywhere. Well, on the way TO the hospital, the buses were running, but by the time we could leave, they were not.  We didn’t really live that far from the hospital – a little over a mile.  So, THE HOBB wanted to keep us as dry as possible for our walk home in snow/ice storm.  We had our normal coats, hats, mittens, boots (it was the 70s – boots were “in”) and scarves on.  THE HOBB decides to make us put a giant trash bag over our  clothes to keep us even drier. So, she puts the bags over us, and pokes holes in for our heads and arms.  She then puts her bag on as well.

We begin our trek from Richland Memorial Hospital to our little house behind Earlwood Park.   We get under the overpass, and we are right across the street from the drive in movie theater. If you grew up here you know.   It is now some abandoned warehouse, but was also a SAMS  Club.  OK, so across from the movie theater, but before the train tracks – THE HOBB slides on the slippery ice and down she goes.  She is in this giant trash bag and is just sliding along this decline, and I start laughing uncontrollably.  I can NOT help it.  I am just  laughing so hard I am crying.  My sister is getting so angry with me because THE HOBB has fallen. we sort of run/slide up to her and start helping her up. She is laughing, too.  It was quite possibly one of the funniest moments of my life with gramma. I still get giggly just thinking about it. She wasn’t an old grandmother, probably 46 at that time, maybe 47.

We made it home without any other incidents or accidents.  We laughed about that for the rest of her life.  We would jokingly suggest giant trash bags  when it was snowing, etc.  It became part of the fabric of our story.

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Like so many other people across the eons, Music has been a huge part of my development into the adult I am.  As a small child, every Saturday morning, after breakfast, Grandma put the stack of LPs on that big stereo that was a piece of furniture.  Some of you remember them, wooden, long, almost like a side board for the living room. Her tastes were as eclectic as mine are today.  The selection would include, Ray Charles, The Statler Brothers, Tammy Wynette, Elvis, George Jones, The Temptations, Liberace, Slim Whitman, some polka album she loved, etc.  I think to this day, Grandma is the reason I can’t clean without music pouring out of the house.  Obviously as I grew older, I began to make my own musical decisions. Grandma never, ever censored what we listened to, watched on television, movies we saw.  She would explain to us anything we had questions about.  Along with Grandma, I had my aunt, my mom and my best friend’s sister as musical influences.  They all listened to such variety. Between all of them, and the radio and my friends, I learned to love The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, KISS, Aerosmith, AC/DC. Loretta Lynn.  It runs the gambit.

As a small, small girl,  like 4 and 5, my favorite singers were Charlie Rich and Tom T. Hall. Charlie Rich was my all-time favorite.  “The Most Beautiful Girl” and “Behind Closed Doors” were always played for me at my request.  Of course, I had NO idea what “Behind Closed Doors” was really about, but I loved The Silver Fox, and so it didn’t really matter. We weren’t really allowed to park in front of the TV too much with Grandma, but we did get to watch Hee Haw. I can remember see Charlie perform on there.Tom T. Hall had an album “Tom T. Hall Sings for Kids”.  It had those songs “I Love” and “Sneaky Snake” on it. Grandma would play that album for me all the time.  It often made it in the Saturday morning stack.

Obviously by middle and high school, I had been exposed to hundreds of songs and bands. I have always had a different drummer to march to, so as much as liking mainstream music, I often went against the grain, and there ain’t no shame in my game.  Yes, I love bands like N*Sync and performers like Nelly, but I also like the Violent Femmes, The Clash, KISS, Metallica etc.


Of all the music I have been exposed to, bought, downloaded, seen live, loved and hated, it’s almost impossible to pick out favorites because songs mean different things to you at different times, and sometimes, it’s just music for fun.  In March of 1987, I turned 18. That year, I had come to love Beastie Boys, much to the disdain of my best friends, until I just forced them to listen so often they caved in to the awesomeness.  There weren’t many preppy white kids at Dreher loving hip hop and rap, but I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood and was around black kids and white kids alike, so as my black friends were discovering rap and hip hop, I went along for the ride.  Beastie Boys “License to Ill” is still one of my top ten albums of all time.  But it wasn’t Mike D or Jam Master J who was invading my brain, heart, soul, bones.  It was as band I had been listening to for years, thanks to WUSC and MTV’s 120 minutes. That March, Bono, The Edge, Larry, and Adam moved in to my being, and never left. My best friend bought me the cassette “The Joshua Tree” for my birthday, and I was done.  From the first listen to that album, every song resonated with me in some way.  Even now, some songs can get me choked up, make me want to dance, laugh, get angry.  “With or Without You” got me through a broken teenaged heart. “Trip Through Your Wires” helped me realize yes, broken hearts are survivable. “Where the Streets Have No Name” made me want to explore my own small world and stretch it like a canvas.  I have owned dozens of copies of the cassette and CD because I have played the different  copies so often, they’ve needed to be replaced.  I will never change the radio station if one the songs on this album comes on.  I have heard Bono sing those songs to me in person, knowing that he IS singing them just for me while The Edge mesmerizes me with his guitar.


The only other album that has come close to this level of intense connection for me is Pearl Jam’s first album, Ten.  I obtained a promo copy of this album from my friend and neighbor in college, Rob.  He wanted some sweatshirt I had, so we bartered.  I gave him a lime green champion sweatshirt for the CD that revolutionized my senior year in college. from the first note that came out of my shitty stereo, I fell in love.  Head over Heels in love.  Those grunge boys had nothing on Kurt and his crew, as far as I was concerned.  I loved Nirvana, but I absorbed Pearl Jam.  Again, another album that ANY song can take me back to that senior year.  My college boyfriend broke up with me and pulverized my heart that spring.  “Black”, “Oceans”, “Why Go” and “Alive” nursed me back to some semblance of sanity so that I was able to survive that once in a life time event, the moment your first love breaks your heart and leaves you stunned.  I could be angry and rock out “Evenflow”, “Porch” or “Deep” and just be loud and crunchy – Oh stone and Mike with those guitars.

No two albums will ever replace these as the albums that shaped my life and attitudes about so much.  I often wish my life was “The Kentucky Fried Movie” so I could have my own personal soundtrack as I moved from highs to lows, successes and defeats, boredom and excitement.  These albums would have a starring role.

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Growing up, we were pretty poor.  I didn’t really notice it so much because Grandma always made sure we had great Christmases and Birthdays.  I did know we didn’t have a car, but I just chalked it up to “Grandma doesn’t like to drive”.  She was a child of The Depression, a woman of a young marriage and divorce, two unruly, heathen children and as a result had learned to be crafty in her solutions to tricky situations.

When I was a little kid, several factors left me and my little sister unsupervised from about 2:30 to 4:30.  When I was ten, we moved from the Earlwood Park Area to the Melrose Heights area. We continued to go to McCants Elementary School (the best school I ever attended) because I wanted to finish up there.  It went to 6th grade and I was at the end of my 5th grade year.  We would get up before early and take a city bus downtown, transfer and then take another bus to McCants.  After school, we would need to repeat the process.  Mind you, this was in 1979, and the gentrification of the Heights hadn’t begun yet.  We lived on the last block of King Street, right down from many drug dealers and bootleggers.

Grandma didn’t really want us going home alone, and she certainly couldn’t afford someone to watch us. As a result of all these circumstances, Kelli and I took the bus downtown, but instead of transferring to the next bus, we went to Richland County Public LIbrary on the corner of Sumter and Washington streets. That was my day care center.  I knew every inch of that library.  I would wander around the art section on the second floor near the Children’s Room.  When I was tired of that, I would go look through thousands of albums.  I wandered from floor to floor, following Dewey, enjoying the smell and feel of the books.  All of the workers at the library knew us.  We were well-behaved and obviously we appreciated the books.  More importantly, we respected the sanctity of The Library.  Always easily bored, but eager to learn new things, and never shy, I befriended the women who worked in the children’s area.  Eventually, they taught me to check out books using a crazy machine that took a picture of your library card, a white paper card similar to a bi-fold business card with the map of Richland County that was represented in metal sculpture on the wall outside of the library and now resides in the new library on Assembly street, and a picture of the book from the back of the book.  They let me shelve books because I did a good job at it.  It was very important to me that books be in order and in the correct areas. I would help other little kids find books they liked.  I adored every minute of it.  I loved learning how to use the card catalog, which I can still do very well, and taught many classmates over the years how to use.

At a certain time, Kelli and I would go across the street to meet Grandma at the bus stop to go home.  I was safe every day and learned an immense amount of useful knowledge and skills.  My love of books continued to grow. My grandmother barely had a high school education, but she was had  love of books that she passed on to every one of her children and grandchildren.  No matter what our shortcomings, insanities, poor choices and mislead lives, we all had and have a love of reading and books that is nearly an obsession for some of us (me).

We only did that until I started 7th grade and walked to Hand.  I loved that year and a half spent in the stacks on Sumter Street.  It’s one of my favorite memories of being a child.  The only card I have loved as much as my first library card is my first voter’s registration card.


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When my grandmother, the one constant in my life, died almost four years ago, she was cremated.  Her “cremains” were basically divided between me, my aunt, my sister, my sister-out-law and a plastic bag, with me getting the bulk of them. I keep her ashes in a walnut box designed for such purpose.  It has THE HOBB engraved on top. There is a plastic container which holds her ashes safely in the box. Around the edges of the box there is some space.  Whenever I find things that remind me of her, or belonged to her, that are small, I place them in the box with her. When her cat, Higgins, passed away, I put his collar in the box.  I have a lock of hair I cut off of her head the last time I cut it. If I find random coins, they go in there because she always wanted my change.  There are other little random things I find and stick in their. Today, I received a quarter, with Gettysburg on the back.  I put that in there, too.  That was our favorite vacation together.

I miss her every single day, but little things like this make me feel closer to her.

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Wooden Spoons

When  I was a small girl, Gramma worked at Richland Memorial Hospital, in the canteen.  She was the manager.  Everyday after school, I would be dropped off  at the hospital by my ride.  I would meet Gramma there, and wait until her shift was over.  The canteen was only open until about 4.  After I finished my snack and whatever homework I had, which was usually none, I became bored and started asking my Gramma for something to do.  She would usually come up with some little chore for me to do and then give me some little bit of money to do it.  I did everything from pull the dead, wilted leaves off of heads of lettuce to restock the chocolate and strawberry shortcake parfaits in the mounted, back-lit refrigerated unit.

After I got my money, I would go next door to the gift shop.  I never could hold on to my money.   Ms. “Mac” ran the gift shop.  Actually, The Pink Ladies ran the gift shop.  They were the hospital volunteer ladies.  They still wear pink smocks. To me, however, it was Ms. Mac’s shop.  She would greet me, happy to see me.  “Hey Kimmy! What are we buying today?” she would ask.

I would smile and reply, “Hi, Ms. Mac!  I am going to get some candy and maybe somethinng for Grammer.”  I would walk over and collect my grape flavored Pop Rocks and a Sugar Daddy.  Then I would meticulously look at everything on every shelf. There were never any really big crowds in the small store that sold the basic hospital gift shop items: flowers, magazines, baby items, books, so Ms. Mac usually walked around with me, asking about school, my day, etc.  I was always spending my “hard-earned” money in there on something for Gramma, but it had to be just the right thing.  Nothing ordinary would do for MY gramma.

On one particular day, after several minutes of scouring the shelves, seeing things I had seen a million other times, my eyes spotted something new: wooden spoons.  Finding these, to six year old me, was like hitting the proverbial jackpot!  MY gramma always used wooden spoons with which to cook.  They were a quarter each! I carefully chose the four I wanted to get for her. I took my items up to the register.  Ms. Mac said, “So, have you found what you were looking for?”

“Yes, ma’am! Grammer likes to cook, so she’ll love these!”  It never occurred to me to wonder why a hospital gift shop was selling wooden spoons.  Now, in hindsight, I would say it was devine intervention.  Ms. Mac carefully placed my valuable items in a plain, pink paper bag.  I marched triumphantly back to the canteen, ready to eat my Pop Rocks and hand over the spoons to my gramma.

“I see you got some of those God-awful Pop Rocks. Well, you know you can’t have any Coke with those,” she said in her matter-of-fact-I-mean-business-gramma voice.

“Yes, ma’am.  I know.  I got you something!” I exclaimed.

“Oh good!  Do I get it now, or do I have to wait until we get home?” she asked.

I said, “I guess you can have it now.”  I opened the bag,  took my Sugar Daddy out for later and handed the now-rumpled pink paper bag over.  She opened it and slid out the slick, clean wooden spoons.

“They are just the kind I like, Kimmy!  Perfect,” she proclaimed.

At the end of her shift, we gathered up all of our stuff and started the walk home.  We only lived two blocks from the hospital, and this was always a favorite part of my day.  When we got home she said, “Let’s wash these up and then I can make us some pancakes for dinner!  If you’re not too full of Pop Rocks,” she smiled knowingly.  She knew that Breakfast for Dinner was one of my favorite things.  She made the pancakes for us and declared that they tasted better having been made with the new spoons.   I just sat there grinning, sticky with Ms. Butterworth’s.

Over the years, Gramma used those spoons all the time, making one love-filled meal after the next for the people most important to her, her family.  She provided us with pancakes, cakes, biscuits, stews, soups, Kool-Aid. Even now, 32 years later, we still have a couple of those spoons left.  She always cooked with those spoons, and whenever I see them, the evoke memories of my gramma cooking for us. Now it’s my turn to cook meals full of love for the people I care most about, and I’ll use those spoons to do it.

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Shit I have never been embarrassed about:

*my family – even the rednecky, loser ones.

*liking the following bands or artists: styx, journey, matchbox 20, nickleback (just like jesse), justin timberlake, tim mcgraw,  a lot of Top 40

*big hair in the 80s

*wearing black Reeboks in the 80s

*not getting my driver’s license until i was 21 – almost 22

*growing up a ‘hood rat

*painting my toenails

*having 5 cats and 2 dogs

*being a picky eater

*watching a LOT of television


*cross-stitching.  yes, i cross-stitch. so??

*believing in God, but not caring what people think, and more importantly, not caring or judging those who don’t

*never having been married

*being a liberal

*my friends

*not being a homeowner

*cussing. i cuss a lot.  a lot.

*talking to my animals and answering for them

*Duke’s mayo

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Life after THE HOBB

Well, THE HOBB has been gone for a month now.  I miss her each and every day.  THe weirdest things make me think about her or bring a flash of a memory.  Then, that sort of sets the tears off.  I know that Gramma would NOT want me wandering around crying at the drop of a hat, so I just tell myself to suck it up. 

As I knew it would be Thanksgiving was really sad for me.  My family, for as long as I can remember, has always had a big Thanksgiving.  It was the one time that most of my family members came together and ate dinner and had great fellowship together.  Thanksgiving was a time when my mom might actually show up sober and hang out for a while.   This Turkey Day, my sister and I decided to just not have Thanksigiving.  We went to see No Country for Old Men.  It was good.   Then we sneaked in to Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.  So we spent the whole day at the movies.  It was nice.   By the time we got home, for me Thanksgiving was  over. 

In lieu of Thanksgiving, I decided to start my own new tradition. I decided to start having a gathering of friends on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  It is called the FALL FRIENDS FREE-FOR-ALL.  We all gathered last night.  Most of my friends were there.  Some were still out of town for the holidays.  We had a nice fire going in the fireplace. There was a TON of food!  HOLY CRAP!  We had everything you can think of:  chili, pigs in the blanket, Asian cole slaw, boiled peanuts, hot wings, rum cakes, ice cream, rotel cheese dip, bleu cheese biscuits, pasta salad, artichoke dip. Lord, the list just goes on and on!  We had a giant cooler of beer and some wine (which was probably not that great, because I don’t drink wine).  It was a ton of fun.  A lot of my friends brought their kids.  We all drank and ate WAY TOO MUCH.  We watched the CLEMSON TIGERS beat USC.  Barely. But a win is a win baby!  My awesome friends helped me clean up, and we all split up the food.

One party guest stood out as THE NUMBER ONE party guest.  MICH! He brought me the JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE FUTURESEX/LOVESHOW LIVE AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN DVD!!  WOOO!  That makes him the number one party guest!  (and my room is immaculate).  He also made the delicious pigs in the blanket. 

Gramma would have loved this party . She would have been the belle of the ball!  Now, I just have to get through Christmas.  That will be much harder. Thanksgiving and Christmas were her favorite holidays. 

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My gramma passed away this week.  THE HOBB, as I called her, raised me from the day I came home.  When I graduated from college, we lived together, almost like roommates.  This is the eulogy I read.   Please keep in mind while I wrote it, I was not writing it for grammar, etc.  I was writing it more as a script so I wouldn’t leave anything out.

My gramma was always there for me from the day I came home until the day she died.   She used to snuggle in bed with me at night and tell me stories when I was really little, because even then, I didn’t sleep.  I was her cuddly wuddly.  She would play games with me and read to me.  I remember when she taught me to play 52 pickup.  I had been driving her nuts all day to teach me something new, to play a game.  

I already knew rummy, war, go fish, etc.  Finally she said, “Okay, here’s a game, but you have to follow the rules and play the game.”  “OKAY OKAY!”  I was so excited.  I think I was about 4.  She then threw all of those cards in the air and told me “52 cards, now pick ‘em up”. I WAS SO MAD!!!  She had tricked me!  But she always did love to pull pranks on people.  I get that from her.  So does Claire.  

I know I wasn’t her only grandchild and she loved all of her family more than anything, but she was not JUST my gramma.   She was my mom, my dad, my granddad, my rock.  She got me through elementary school trials and tribulations like the time I told the cafeteria ladies that they couldn’t even cook spaghetti right, so I was going to bring my gramma up and teach them because she was a really good cook.  I promise I thought I was being nice.  The principal called the house and said, Ms. Harvey, you need to speak to Kim and ask her not to hurt the cafeteria staff’s feelings. 

She got me through middle school self consciousness and bad hair.  She was patient when I spent 8 months sleeping all day and crying at the blink of an eye, which is VERY out of character for this little mean girl.  I remember one year for her birthday, when I was about 13, I got her this book on Hitler.  Gramma was a big history buff and loved to read before her vision became too poor, so this really was a good gift for her.  She loved it. “Oh Kimmy, she said. “I can’t wait to read it”.  I burst into tears and said she hated it, then proceeded to run from the table to the yard.  It was all VERY dramatic.  She just left me alone, because she knew me and knew I need to be left alone to work through it.  That is just my way, and she understood that.  Later, I realized I was being overly sensitive and she proceeded with business as usual.

Then came high school.  THE HOBB was not one to play around as nearly everyone in this room can attest to.  She was particularly harsh on me regarding my grades and school behavior.  In 9th grade, I got my first C. It was in Algebra.  It wasn’t so much the C that put her over the edge as it was the comment “Kim tends to socialize in class”.  Granted this was NOT the first time she had read this same comment, as I am sure you are all shocked to learn, but it WAS the first time it was accompanied by a C.  So, she promptly had our telephone disconnected and informed me, “If you are socializing so much at school that you are getting C’s, you don’t need to socialize at home.  If someone wants to call me, they can call at work.”   I spent the next 3 and a half years walking to the Piggly Wiggly to use the pay phone.  When I was accepted to the fifth college, she decided it was probably ok to put the phone back!             

All my life, we sat down together and ate as a family.  No matter how hard she had worked that day, we always had a hot, hearty meal.  MMMM. But no meal was as good as that fried chicken and those mashed potatoes.  She has more than one person in here who can give me an amen on that!  She insisted we eat as a family, especially when we were older because we all had so much going on, but this gave her the opportunity to know us and know what we were doing.  Believe me, it is no easy thing to sit across from a woman who as busted her fanny all day at work, then come home and cooked your dinner, only to have you tell her you did poorly on a test or you had done some other foolish thing.  Even now, with Kelli and I nearly forty and her daughter nearly 60, she loved nothing more than to have us all sitting down together to a meal and family fellowship.           

One of my favorite things about THE HOBB was her undying notion that we could “do it ourselves”.  More than one “home improvement” project went scarily awry.  My gramma was ALL about saving money.  At one time or another, all of her children and grandchildren were lured into one of her projects.  Kelli and I living at home with her the longest endured more of these.  Once when I was about 27 or so, when we were still living on King St., we had an old shed in our backyard that was starting to rot. There were holes in the roof that gramma thought were in need of our attention.  A lovely, innocent Saturday afternoon. 

“KIMMY! C’mere”. 

“Yes ma’am?” 

 “I was thinking, we can take a couple of those big blue tarps we bought for painting and put them on the roof of the shop.  We can hold them down with some cinder blocks. ”  and here was the kicker “It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.”  That was the kiss of death right there.  The words were hanging in the air over her head like in a cartoon.

I just looked at her and said.  “ok.”  What else DID you say to her?   We proceeded to the backyard to drag the tarps and bricks and ladder out.  I then spent the next FIVE HOURS driving to lowe’s to get bigger tarps, spreading tarps haphazardly at best , moving tarps, moving ladders.   Although I think gramma’s favorite part was me LOBBING cinder blocks and bricks onto the roof while they immediately crashed through the already-dry-rotted roof while she stood on the ground puffing away on that cigarette laughing her head off.  Needless to say, we left it worse than we found it.  Oh, and then a storm came up and blew the tarp two houses up.  At the time I wanted to lob one of those bricks at her, but resisted, although we were laughing the entire time.           

I could actually spend the entire week up here telling you about my great memories of gramma, but I will just share a couple of more.           

Gramma and I were great traveling buddies.  We went all over the place and had tons of fun.  When the doctor’s induced my sister Kelli’s labor, Gramma and I jumped in the green bean and drove to Tallahassee.  Most of you know where our house was on King Street.    We made it from King Street to the BP on the corner of Trenholm and Beltline, probably less that five miles.  Gramma always was a nervous eater.  

“PULL OVER!” she yelled and pointed at the BP.  I pulled over. She said, “I gotta have something to eat”. Ten minutes later she came out loaded down with candy bars, chips, and a diet coke.  There might have been some beef jerky in there too.  I think we then made it a couple of hours before we had to stop and eat dinner.  We basically stopped every hour or two to get food for gramma.  When we finally got to Tallahassee, it was around 5 a.m. I had driven the whole way and was really tired.  Gram said, “Okay, get a shower and get changed and we’ll go eat before we go to the hospital.”  I am thinking “Good LORD! How much more can this woman put into her body!!??”

She was not pleased when I said, “gramma, really, I need to sleep a couple of hours.  She relented, very begrudgingly.  We made it to the hospital where she said HI to Kelli, made sure all was well and headed immediately to the cafeteria.  All that food didn’t stop her from grinning from ear to ear when that little pink girl showed up around dinner time.  She was so pleased to finally have a great grand daughter to spoil.             

One thing I will always remember, love and take joy in is Gramma’s great depth of love and compassion.  She just loved to surprise people with some bit of sunshine.  I can remember getting surprised with Duran Duran albums, candy bars, surprise parties ( which I knew about but would never ruin HER joy at doing it for me), jewelry, you name it. She loved cooking your favorite meal.  I can remember even two years ago when she was still in her better health saying, “okay, I am gonna have a surprise for you for dinner tonight!” she would be so excited about it!   She truly LOVED to give to others.  She was always generous and giving.  If she had 20 dollars and 99 cents and you needed it, it was yours.  There were times when Annie was coming over and she’d say, “oh, well, we’ll eat later because my annie will be here and she loves my friend chicken.“  Or Claire might be coming over and she’d send me to the grocery store to make sure we had ice cream and chocolate milk “because baby Claire loves those”.  She took in friends who needed places to stay.  She fed every boy or girl I ever drug home from college.  It would not be shocking for her to wake up and see three guys sleeping on her living room  floor because they came to town and needed a place to stay.  She’d just wake them up and ask how they liked their eggs.  She knows everyone’s favorites.  She knew Nikki loved St. Peter’s Cookies and zucchini casserole.  She knew West and Tammy loved blue cheese biscuits.  Of course, her Amy Jo was her biggest fried chicken and mashed potato fan.  Debbie loves the fudge. 

She took great joy in the holidays. She planned for months what she was going to buy people for Christmas.  We all had to have our lists in by September.             

I really used to think I wouldn’t be able to survive when my gramma died.  I just felt like I would be so grief-stricken that I would be brought to my knees, debilitated, unable to do even the most mundane things.  Over the 38 years and some odd months that my gramma spent teaching me how to be a grown up, I learned a few things though.  I learned that I always need a good screwdriver and hammer.  I learned that red is my best color, which is why I am wearing it today.  I found out that no matter what, I still can’t touch raw chicken.  I found out that yes I CAN cook.  This was a big shock in college!  I remember calling THE HOBB and telling her, in a most amazed tone, “Gramma, I made a big pot of vegetable soup.  And it was good!” 

Always full of faith in me and my abilities, she said, “Well of course it was.” 

I learned that you always need to wear clean underwear because you never know when you might get in a car wreck. There is also, apparently an inordinate amount of carjacking going on in Columbia and they are all looking for a little old lady in a Subaru station wagon.  I always told her they’d get a block and bring her back.  I learned that I will not tolerate disrespect.  I learned that the lettuce will sit there and rot before I will pay that price for it.  I learned that no matter how angry I might get, my capacity for love and forgiveness is endless.  I learned that I should always be tolerant and respectful of others  regardless of who they are or what they think.  I learned that I am complete whether I am married or not.  I learned how to cook fried green tomatoes.  I learned that Gettysburg really is pretty great.  I know that there is nothing better than a party with good friends, because THE HOBB LOVED a good party!  I realized that I can give second chances and forgive.  I learned that my gramma made me into this self-sufficient, successful, loving, compassionate, hard-nosed, stubborn woman standing here today.  I learned that when you love someone it is a lot easier to do the one thing others think impossible.  I learned to love unconditionally. I learned that a little exaggeration of the facts is okay, but only sometimes.  I learned that ringing in the new year with your gramma at Art Bar is pretty fun.  I learned that there is nothing wrong with a little honest hard work.  I learned that I am all these things because as so many are so fond of saying, “You are just like your gramma”.  I say amen and thank God.  All of her good and “underappreciated qualities” are inside of me because of her endless efforts to make me the best me possible.  I know that though I will miss Gramma until the very last second I breathe, I can survive and I can move forward because she spent the last 38 plus years making sure that I could do just that. 

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