Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 9, 2013

Tidbits: Treasure your grandparents

By Heather Mullinix
Assistant editor

CROSSVILLE — This past weekend offered a moment for everyone to stop and recognize those most special of adults, our grandparents.

National Grandparents Day was Sept. 8 and has been proclaimed a national day of recognition on the first Sunday after Labor Day each year since 1978.

I confess, I did not spend grandparents day with my grandparents. I was thankful to get to spend time visiting with my Granny and Poppa the weekend before, however. They are my only grandparents left, though I was fortunate to have many years with both sets of grandparents and even have many wonderful memories of two great-grandmothers.

There's something incredibly special about grandparents. Mine were never excessively lenient. They all wanted their grandchildren to mind their manners and be good kids. But they certainly let us kids get by with a bit more hijinks than those tough disciplinarians I spent most of my days with.

My childhood was filled with memories of staying over with Grandma and Grandpa or Granny and Poppa.

Sometimes, I'd join Poppa at the Druthers on a Saturday morning when he went to the weekly liars club and the members solved all the world's problems over coffee and gravy and biscuits. Then we were off to the stockbarn for a cattle auction or to the Co-Op to pick up feed for his horses. Or, we'd return to the barn and I'd run around playing with the horses, cats and dogs until time to walk across the field and get some lunch at the house from Granny.

Granny would often chauffeur my sister and me about town while Mom and Dad were at work in those younger years. Poor Granny was given the task of taking me for my pre-kindergarten immunizations. I have a long-standing hatred of needles and I wonder if maybe she drew the short straw because no one else wanted to deal with a screaming four-year-old. She knew what was in store for her. She promised me a new toy at the store where she worked if I would be a good girl and get my shot. I took the shot, but I'm pretty sure she was still left dealing with a tantrum, yet I don't believe she punished me. I guess she figured I'd had enough with the shot and finger-prick.

Grandpa Mullinix loved his Braves, even during the rotten years. We'd visit and he'd be watching them lose, but still he stayed loyal to his team. He and Grandma loved having the grandkids around, and staying over with them was always a lot of fun, with Grandma fixing a special breakfast treat in the morning, chocolate gravy and biscuits.

Over at Ma's house, you were always guaranteed to find something good to eat, whether it was green beans with fatback, delicious chicken and dumplings or Ma's fried pies. You couldn't go to see her without being offered something to eat. She wanted you to leave full! My sister and I would spend many afternoons playing at Ma's house, running through the bedrooms, climbing trees in the yard, grabbing a treat from the kitchen, sliding down the stairs or, later, playing a game of Rook. When a bout of stomach flu or a cold kept me out of school, I'd spend the day at her house, propped up on a couch, covered with afghans and a bowl of soup nearby. On these days I got to watch "daytime" television, including my great-grandmother's favorite soap opera, "The Young and The Restless." I watched that show up until I entered "the real world" and couldn't plan my schedule around daytime TV. This was also before the advent of DVR, and I never could program a VCR.

I notice a lot of my memories of my grandparents are connected to food. All the best memories involve a special food, in my opinion, and Granny has tried to pass a few of the secret family recipes along to me. She's taught me how to make her homemade pie crust and her chicken and dumplings, two of my favorite dishes from her kitchen. But try as I might, I just can't get it right. My cousin, the self-appointed quality control inspector on such things, confirmed that something just isn't quite right. I suppose it's Granny's love that's the secret ingredient I'm missing. Thankfully, she's still up for making me a pot of dumplings on occasion.

I'm so thankful for all the time my grandparents made to spend with me growing up and into my adult years, even if it was just watching a baseball game on TV or taking me around the stockbarn circuit. As I've gotten older, new responsibilities and pursuits have taken up more of my time, and I no  longer live right down the road from my grandparents. But I love them so much and I treasure all the times I get to spend with them.

If you're fortunate enough to still have your grandparents with you, don't waste the opportunity to let them know how important they are to you. Give them a call and catch up or, if they're close by, make time to visit with them. You'll be glad you did.

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at