Connie A Thompson

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Sunday Dinner: Naomi’s Legacy

Mary "Naomi" Goudelock 1886 - 1958

Mary “Naomi” Goudelock
1886 – 1958

Every year my grandmother and mother would plant gardens. They were usually small. Grandmother’s fit in a bricked off area that had once been the foundation for a coal house. What is a coal house? Many years ago their house was heated by coal. There were small grates in every room that looked like small fireplaces.

My grandparents eventually upgraded to a gas furnace, and there was no longer a need for coal. The building, which was about 6′ x 6′ was torn down, but the foundation remained. The floor had been dirt. During the fall and winter months, grandmother would put all the leftover food scraps in the dirt creating a compost pile. Come spring she would plant tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, green beans, and anything that suited her.

I loved to go pick the tomatoes. Grandmother would often slice a tomato, put a thin layer of Duke’s mayonnaise on white bread and a little salt and pepper. She said as a girl, lunch in the summer was often a fresh vegetable from the garden and a leftover biscuit from lunch.
My grandmother, Laura was born in 1918 and grew up on the mill hill. Her parents had a cow, chickens, and a garden. She claimed her mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she was an excellent gardener.

Her mother, Naomi was stern, but kind. If someone was passing through and asked for food, she always gave them what she could. Young Laura watched these travelers pass by other houses before stopping at theirs. She wondered how they knew. Her mother claimed that the travelers left a sign indicating that their house would offer food. Young Laura combed the yard in search of the mysterious welcome sign, but never found one.

When I was ten, I sat on the porch one day with my grandmother. A young woman toting a baby on her hip lumbered off the bus and walked up the street. The baby whined; they were both drenched in sweat. Grandmother called out to her inviting her up to the shade of the front porch. The young woman not much more than a girl looked around trying to decide if she should stop. The baby cried out, and she trudged up the steps. She took a seat on the metal glider, the baby perched on her knees. The baby became mesmerized by her own toes painted with pink nail polish. She babbled. I continued reading my book as I if I wasn’t paying attention to them. I had long before mastered the art of having my nose in a book and seeming oblivious while watching everything.

Grandmother returned with juice and shortbread cookies for the baby. She handed the woman a tall glass of iced tea. They talked about her baby, and my grandmother talked about when her children were babies. When their tea glasses were empty, they sat for a little longer and then the mother tucked her sleeping child on her hip and picked up her bag. Her steps were a little lighter than when she first trudged up the street.

I saw my great grandmother, Naomi’s legacy living on through her daughter. Kindness to others.

Today will be the first Sunday dinner without my son and daughter in law living nearby. Some family members are away at the beach. We’ll have a small group today rather than the usual crowd. Both my grandsons will be here. I know this is a day they won’t specifically remember, but I know that Sunday dinners will be something they will always carry in their heart.