K. D. McCrite

K.D. McCrite grew up on an Ozark Mountain farm along an old dirt road, just like April Grace Reilly in In Front of God and Everybody. She loves writing stories that make people laugh and think. For a while, she worked as a librarian, but these days she sits at her desk and makes up stories. Her second book to this series will release in December 2011. Visit her at http://kdmccrite.com/

K. D. McCrite

My Grandma

My grandmother was an old lady when I was born. I’m sure we all believe our grandmothers are ancient and always have been. Mine was in her seventies by the time I entered the world.

Like the grandmother in Confessions of April Grace, Grandma wore handmade, floral-print, cotton dresses. Every morning after she was dressed, she put on an overall apron, a soft cardigan, and she never failed to tuck a colorful, cotton hankie into the sleeve. She kept her thick, flesh-colored cotton stockings rolled just above her knees with garters that looked like big rubber bands. Her shoes were the ugliest things ever. Square-toed, black and clunky, with heavy square heels, they laced up the front nearly to her ankles.

My grandma never cut her hair, and she wore it in a tight, neat bun on the back of her head. Unbound, it reached far below her hips. Around her head the hair was gray, but as she unwound that bun, her dark hair became visible. The more she allowed it to fall, the darker it got until, at the very ends, it was nearly black. As I watched her groom her hair, I was looking at the dark hair she wore as a young mother, and I could observe the passing marks of the years as it gradually faded into gray. She sat in her rocker and brushed hair. Then, without aid of a mirror, she twisted it up in that bun, precisely in the center of the back of her head, fastened it deftly with a few hairpins, and she was ready, neat and fresh for the day.

Grandma could read shape-notes. Each shape represented a different note of the music scale, and by knowing what shape stood for which note, she could sing anything written with shape-notes. She had a stack of soft-covered, battered old songbooks that she kept on a table beside her rocking chair. She’d pick up Heavenly Highways or some other songbook, open to any song, sing a do-re-mi to find the right key, then begin to sing. I loved to sit on a little footstool next to her chair and listen to her sweet, high voice pour out those lovely old gospel tunes.

Grandma couldn’t hear very well. In fact, if you wanted to talk with her, you had to yell into her hearing aid. Unlike the tiny little nubs used today, her hearing aid was an unwieldy gadget about the size of a deck of cards. It had a long cord attached to a large hearing piece that she wore in one ear. The hearing aid itself fit into a chest pocket sewn inside every petticoat she had. If she didn’t hear you, or understand what you said after you repeated yourself once, she’d just smile and nod, not wanting to be an annoyance by making you say the same thing three or four times.

Grandma also wore thin, gold, wire-framed glasses. More than once she’d settle those glasses on her nose and off she’d go, searching for something, looking under doilies, behind cushions, on top of books, on the sink in the bathroom, on her dresser top.

“Grandma,” I’d say, finally, “what is it you’re looking for?”

“Why, my glasses! I plumb forgot where I laid them.”

I always kept a straight face when I’d say, “Grandma, you’re wearing your glasses.”

She put her hands to her face, feel the frames, sort of cross her eyes to see them. She’d wear the most astonished expression for a moment, then burst out laughing.

“Well, law! I shore am,” she’d say, still chuckling.

From my grandmother I learned the proper way to make a bed, how to raise African violets so they bloom all year. She taught me that cats love cream gravy as much as people do, that it’s good to stay busy, and that there is always something funny to be found in almost every situation.

Grandma died in 1973, at the age of ninety-two. To this day, I can never hear the song “Unclouded Day” without the echo of her voice joining in.


In Front Of God And Everybody