faye | 1935-2014

7.17.2014

faye.


i loved her so, so very much.


stubborn, hard-headed to a fault, and blissfully ignorant to what the outside world thought or cared about, my paternal grandmother was the first person to teach me how nurturing your kids through the food that you labored over and placed in front of them was not only one of the easiest ways to turn people into a family, but it was also one of the fastest ways into their hearts.


naturally, faye was the first person to teach me the utter importance of eggs, butter, bacon, and mayonnaise in one's diet.


faye showed me that something as simple as slices of ripe tomatoes between two pieces of cheap white bread could be turned into a sinfully addicting meal just by the power of Duke's Mayonnaise.  worth noting: using miracle whip on a sandwich was equivalent to cursing the virgin Mary on sacred ground. it's one of those things that you just didn't do it. unless you wanted to visit the gates of hell, of course. however, why have a dinky tomato sandwich when you can have a tomato and bacon sandwich on butter-toasted white bread. and, hell, why we're at it, why don't we throw on a fried egg?  i'm thankful for a lot, but conditioning my taste buds to distinguish the difference between mayonnaise brands and to appreciate the perfect amount of crisp on bacon is something that i'll be forever grateful for.


faye also loved the soaps. her stories. from twelve to two, monday through friday, we sat through young & the restless, the bold and the beautiful, guiding light, and as the world turns. once, i asked her why she loved the stories as much as she did and she told me that "just because i'm old as sin doesn't mean that an old woman doesn't need some romance..." touché, faye. touché.


most days she stayed in her house coat until returning into her pajamas before bed which, looking back, i find comforting. faye was always comfortable and not the least bit fussy. i'm very much the same way and i never correlated it until now. i don't own a house coat but i'm the opposite of the fussy, high-maintenance girl. 


she loved my grandfather a tremendous amount. she also loved her kids, maybe even to a fault. she refused to see the bad in anyone even if the truth was blinding to all that could see it.


that right there might be the part that hurts the worst, the wound that is still the most open and raw.


when i made the decision- or, rather, which it was made for me- to not be in my father' life, that decision made the truth real. our estrangement made what she had avoided accepting for so long tangible. because of one reason or another, there were now visible shadows cast by his disease and our complicated relationship... our distance... was the darkest, deepest one.


i felt a lot of guilt about that for an incredibly long time. i wondered if she would ever forgive me for needing space, for needing to distance myself from the constant reminders of the relationship i didn't have with her son. i was no fan of his but i loved her. and i really loved his siblings.


after marlo was born, i was able to reconnect with my family. (minus my father. he passed away may 9th, 2010.) there were a lot of tears, a lot of laughs, and a lot of tomato and bacon sandwiches. a lot would remain unspoken because we all knew that it wasn't worth it nor would it change it. we were okay with it because we all loved each other and a barrier between my father and me never changed that and it never would.



faye met and held my baby girl. as marlo started rooting, like the southern lady that she is, announced "gahhhh leee, she keeps lookin' for titty! child, you ain't gonna find that in these old sand bags..." some... okay, most... may cringe at the thought of hearing their grandmother utter the word tittes in any context, out loud, ever, particularly when referring to their own set, but, it was just so endearingly faye. i may have inherited a significant aspect of crudeness from that old bird. in any case, she definitely forced my appreciation for it.  


when i was in the fifth grade and my grandfather was hospitalized, i wrote him a letter and left it by his bed. unknowingly to me, a kind nurse put that letter in his left hand after he passed away and i was later told that he was buried with it inside his jacket pocket. in the letter, i told him how much i loved him and how much he meant to our family. and it's true, our family was never the same after he passed. so much has happened to our family since then. but if i were to leave a letter with faye, it would say the same thing.


which is what this letter is saying for me.


i hope she forgave me for my part in what happened. i hope that she was proud of the mother i became and the food that i lovingly cook for my family. i hope that she's proud that i still only eat duke's mayonnaise and think of bacon as a separate food group. i hope that she knows that i laugh loudly like her. i wonder if she's finally convinced that it was indeed her who gave her three children that infamous yarbrough stubbornness. i hope that she's in her favorite housecoat in a plush recliner and watching her favorite stories while my grandfather sits beside her reading an old tom clancy war novel.


so, faye,

my nana,


thank you for the love you spread around your kitchen table. thank you for stressing the importance of romance in one's life. thank you for always saying exactly what was on your mind even if it was the one thing that probably shouldn't have been said. thank you for seeing the good in people, even if it was at your own expense. most importantly, thank you (and neesy!) for preparing marlo her very first bacon, tomato, and fried egg sandwich when we came to see you last year.


ps. oh, and faye, just a small piece of advice: you probably shouldn't say titties in front of god or his son. i imagine their senses of humor aren't nearly as progressive as our own. love you, mean it. 

4 comments:

The Yaegerpack said...

This is beautiful, Christine. xx

Team Starnes said...

I'm crying. That was so awesome. I love you! xx

the communal closet said...

sounds like you've inherited a lot of your spunk from her!

Anna Puryear said...

Thank you, made me cry with joy!! She loved you and so do I!! You did inherit her spunk...lol
Denise
(sorry had to use someone else's email address)

 

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