Her full name is Great Grandma Combs. First name - Great... middle name- Grandma... last name- Combs. She must be one of those who goes by her middle name,though, b/c that's what she's always been to me... Grandma (except for my first few months of talking when she was Nama). Some call her Elizabeth, but as for me and my family... we know her and love her as Grandma. For three whole years I got to walk down to her house with Mommy, singing "over the river and through the woods"... though it looked more like a creek to me... and most of the time we actually took the road so we could walk in the sunshine instead of the dark woods... but those are minor details b/c the most important part is that my Grandma really was over the creek and through the woods and not many can say that nowadays. I am blessed. I ate so many chocolate chip cookies, listened to so many stories, watched so many soap operas, and was almost always the first to know who was getting the next afgan! Here are some things I learned during the first three years of my life thanks to her:
1. I should be thankful medical technology has improved b/c Grandma's first 5 children were delivered in her home, in her bed... on sheets that had to have been slept on by someone else first?! Then... she wasn't allowed to get out of bed for ten days... and for some reason on the ninth day she had to lie perfectly still. It's a good thing her house caught on fire on the twelfth day after one of her deliveries, though... so she could gather up the kids and head down the road as my great grandpa salvaged just a very few of their belongings! By the time my daddy's daddy was born, she did get to go to the hospital, though... only to have her arms and legs strapped down flat through the delivery... and she, herself, was knocked out flat too! The doctors themselves didn't instill much confidence either. When my great Aunt Dorothy was born, they whisked her off to the kitchen without giving Grandma a second glance and told her she most likely wasn't going to survive... no explanations given. Thankfully Aunt Dorothy's a tough one, even today (guess she had to be, growing up around all those boys!).
2. People like my Grandma. They just do. Some of her gentlemen admirers included her oxygen supplier who brought her roses on her birthdays and the kind neighbor whose traditional values kept him from ever visiting empty handed. He felt he always needed to bring a gift, which on one particular occassion was a half rotten potato he admitted his dog had just dug up... but it still had a good meal left in it, he claimed.
3.You don't have to start early to be a good cook. In fact, Grandma's known for her chocolate chip cookies, pound cakes, freezer jam, corn bread, biscuits... and just about anything else you'd find at a lazy Sunday afternoon meal... but growing up she wasn't even given the chance to cook. Her own Grandmother lived with them since her Grandfather had propped his gun against the tree not so very well and didn't survive the unfortunately accurate shot triggered from the gun's fall. Her grandmother was a bit controlling, though, and didn't let Grandma do a thing around the house. She finally taught Grandma how to make biscuits when she was twelve... and from there Grandma must have run with it, since in just a few short years she was cooking for her own growing family.
4. Don't ask Grandma for help planning your shopping trip. My mommy was a late bloomer in the cooking and meal planning department, but when she asked Grandma about how she learned to feed a large family on a tight budget... her answer was simple. All they bought was sugar, salt, and coffee! No triple coupons needed. They canned the garden goods, milked the cows, salted and strung up a hog by the cool creek, and buried enough potatoes to last through the winter. The sugar on her list was even optional since they often made their own molasses.
Proverbs 31:15- "She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family"
5. Who knew that horse feed bags were designed with colorful patterns specifically so they could be recycled into clothing? Grandma did! Proverbs 31:13- "She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. " Proverbs 31:21-"When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet."
6. Grandma had the very first baby monitor... her dog- more reliable than today's Consumer Reports top pick.When I was first born my mommy was running around in circles trying to figure out how to get anything accomplished (not much has changed!) Talking to Grandma, though, always helped put things into perspective. Grandma would pop out a baby and be back in the garden in no time. She'd simply tuck the babe in the crib for a nap and head off to work. At the babe's first peep, her old faithful dog would come barking to let her know that she was needed. This continued to work only until my Grandpa's older brothers taught him to climb out of the playpen! She just didn't have time to worry about not having time to get stuff done. Grandma even made sure to milk the cow just before she headed to the hospital to deliver my Grandpa! Proverbs 31:17 -"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." Proverbs 31:27- "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."
7. Proverbs 16:9- "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps"(a verse my wise daddy often quotes). Grandma wanted to go to college... the early teaching college Appalachian. I mean really wanted to. Her teacher even recommended her. But her parents said no. So she said at that point her only options were to clean other peoples houses or her own... so luckily it was at about the same time that my great grandpa came along and swept her off her feet, and gave her a home to keep of her own. And what a home it was!!... not the building itself b/c they went through a few of those, but I'm talking about the home she built... the husband she cared for, the children she poured into with a giving, humble, servant's heart. God had greater plans for her life than she ever new...20 great grandchildren later!
It seems everyone in our family has their own favorite stories about her that I know will be told for years to come. Ask Daddy about the racoon she killed, the refrigerater door handle, the tree in her front yard, or sliced tomatoes w/ salt and pepper!
We love her so much and praise God that we'll get to see her again in heaven!!
Proverbs 31: 28- "Her children arise and call her blessed"