Saturday, October 8, 2011


Granny actually out of the kitchen and me in need of some color coordination assistance.

My Granny – Myrtle Copus Shaw – raised nine children (including my father) with my Grandpa Ben. I hear stories about Grandpa Ben being a harsh man. I was not yet two when he passed on and I’ve only seen one photo of him – he was smiling – so I have to take everyone else’s word for it. He and Granny made what life they could out of being tenant farmers, surviving the Great Depression, living in a three-sided barn, and moving from one end of Texas to the other, if all the stories are to be believed. Granny never seemed sad or bitter, so all that hard living must have settled well enough inside of her.

I've always wondered if Granny had been taller when she was younger. I only remember her short and somewhat stooped over. I've been trying to summon other memories of her, but all I can recall is a short, white-haired woman bustling around in the kitchen. Surely she left that room often, but other than the parks we visited for family reunions, the only setting I remember her in was the kitchen.

I think by the time I appeared in Granny’s life, the awe of being a grandmother had worn off. I am the third-to-last of her thirty-four grandchildren and I believe even great-grandchildren had started showing up before my birth. I believe she loved me. I just wasn’t fascinating to her the way a first grandchild can be.

Uncle Shorty lived with Granny for all the years that I can remember until his death. Neither one of them ever had much to say to my siblings and me when we were around. I figured they were just quiet. I would hug them hello and goodbye and find ways to amuse myself in the time between those embraces.

After my uncle’s death, with Granny getting older and needing more help, my Aunt Wanda became her caretaker. Wanda was a widow at that time, but I don’t remember if that figured into the decision for her to stay with Granny or not.

In 1986 Granny came to stay with us for a month so that Wanda could have some respite. It was just a few weeks before the start of my senior year in high school. My recollection of that time mostly exists of Granny sitting in the overstuffed armchair watching TV and spitting her dip into a Styrofoam cup. I don’t remember if she used Skoal or Copenhagen – she just called it her “pick me up”.

One day during her stay with us, I walked into the house around suppertime. I had just had my hair colored for the first time in my life. Granny was already sitting at the table and as I moved to sit next to her, she looked to my Mama and said, “Claris, doesn’t that hair color go perfect with Carolyn’s complexion?” That is actually the only positive comment I ever remember Granny ever making to or about me.

My new hair color that day? Neon purple.

Today I am linking up with the Word Portraits project that Jennifer is hosting over at Getting Down With Jesus. Please go visit and follow the links to read some awesome word portraits! If you want to write a word portrait of your own, the instructions for the project are at the end of Jennifer's post.

There is a possibility of some of the word portraits being shared on The High Calling. It would be great if you would take a few moments to go join The High Calling. Registration is easy (click here) and it is a wonderful community to belong to.


  1. Carolyn ...

    What a vivid reflection. I'm seeing your neon hair, right here, right now! :)

    I wonder how it felt to be one of 34 grandchildren. I wonder if you felt that purple hairdo might somehow help you stand out from the crowd? Or perhaps not. Maybe it was just the crazy sort of thing that I child did -- the crazy sort of thing that I would do.

    But Grandma noticed, and despite how silly it seemed, she wanted you to know how beautiful you are.

    And you. are. beautiful...

    I am so very glad you participated in this. You are such a blessing, my new and very DEAR friend. :)

  2. Jennifer, I wasn't trying to stand out to Granny. I was giving in to a persistent hairdresser who wanted to see how the new colors would look on blonde hair (he had only been able to use it on black hair until then and my hair was much lighter in high school). It was funny that Granny chose to remark on it. Thank you for the love and support!

  3. Thank for the clarification, Carolyn. I was reading too much into the post. :) ... Go figure. :)

  4. Ok. This is so freakin' fabulous that I just had to follow your blog on the spot. Then I had to read your granny to my husband.

    We are both in love with your post.

    You really made your granny--in all her indifference and dipping--come alive. But my favorite line? "All that hard living must have settled well enough inside of her."

    And may the same be said of me, Friend.

    I hope your post is chosen for the spotlight. You deserve it, for sure.

  5. Brandee, Wow! What amazing praise. I hope I can live up to that. Thank you so much for coming by to read my story. And may all your hard living settle well.

  6. The neon purple hair and the Skoal? Unforgettable! Details like that certainly bring this to life. :)

  7. @Ann Kroeker Thanks, Ann! I always thought it was a hoot that the only compliment I remember from Granny was about my purple hair. I wish I remembered more about her. That whole family is a bunch of characters, so it would have been good if we had recorded more of it in writing.


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