Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hattie

Hattie. Oh boy, what I can say about Hattie? I could probably write a whole book on her, because there is a lot I remember. If you asked which set of grandparents I was closer to, I would have to say that I was closer to my mom’s side of the family, but in all reality, I think I saw more of my Dad’s family, in particularly my grandma Hattie.

She was my father’s mother. She, like my other grandma was quite attractive. It seemed she dressed very nice and always smelled good. She was a tall woman as I recollect and if I had to describe her in a word it would be cantankerous. The dictionary definition of cantankerous is “difficult or irritating to deal with.” Next to that definition should be the word Hattie.

In her earlier years, Hattie lived in an apartment at 24th and Main. In her later years, and before being moved to a nursing home, she lived in an apartment at 29th and Portland.

The main street apartment was small and I can still see the layout of the place. For some strange reason, I always wanted to live there. There was a much bigger apartment (house) in the back that was attached to the part that she lived in. Eventually my sister Dorothy Ann bought that house and lived in the back part with her husband and kids. I think when Dorothy Ann sold the house, grandma was forced to move. That move took her to the Portland Avenue address.

I loved to go visit grandma on Main Street, because she always had the Welch’s grape juice and lots of good snacks – mostly chocolate. It seemed there were always a lot of people there. I would love to run into my uncles at her house.

I can remember visiting there a lot and found it enjoyable because of the snack factor, but mostly because my sister lived in the back part of the house.

Dorothy Ann and Hattie did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of matters. (I also believe that this statement is putting it mildly.) My grandmother was mean to Dorothy’s kids. They could probably address that better than me. On more than one occasion, I can remember Dorothy Ann referring to grandma as a witch or something. I would have hated to be there when Dorothy Ann and Hattie had those heated discussions. I can remember it troubling me a lot because I loved both Dorothy Ann and my grandmother. Although, I wasn’t, I felt in the middle.

Often times, when visiting Dorothy Ann, Grandma would be home and would sometimes not answer her door, or the apartment would be locked up tight as to give the appearance that no one was home. This would, in some sort of strange way, hurt my feelings.

My grandmother raised my cousin Kevin. Kevin was a very strange character as a kid (and as an adult). He was highly intelligent, and would often quote my grandmother as a child. I can remember at the age of 3 he would go around saying “a sweeper sweeps, a washer washes, a buffer buffs and an agitator agitates.” He would also state many times “I am a sick woman.” Being a teenager I would often find that funny, and NEVER once attributed his weird characteristics as a direct result of being raised by grandma. I didn’t want to make that connection. Kevin is another chapter for another day, but deserved honorable mention in Hattie’s chapter.

The reason I call her cantankerous is because she was. My grandmother fought with a lot of people. I remember she would take me and my cousin Vicky shopping and out to lunch. The only shopping in those days was downtown. Of course we went downtown on the bus. She took Vicky shopping much more than she took me. I always felt Vicky was her favorite and I got to go along sometimes as an afterthought. When we would stop for lunch, Grandma was always so rude to the waitresses and would send back food. She was grumpy to bus drivers and other passengers. I would sometimes be very embarrassed in her behavior.

Many times family and friends would be gathered at our house to play cards. Someone would always agree to drive Grandma home (about 2 blocks) and it seemed she always had trouble finding her key. One night it was Frankie (a neighbor’s husband) who made the two block trip to take Hattie home. As they drove down Main Street, she started fumbling in her purse for her key. Frankie assumed Hattie was getting money out of her purse and was going to give him that money for taking her home. Frankie said “that’s ok Mrs. Miller, you don’t have to give me anything.” Hattie said (very rudely), “Don’t worry, I’m not giving you anything, I’m just looking for my key.” So much for gratitude – but that was Hattie.

After she moved to 29th and Portland, Grandma’s health seemed to falter. She suffered from facial myalgia. That disorder would send shooting pains in her face and suddenly, with no warning, she would scream in pain. I mean it was a loud scream that would often scare the living daylights out of me. Out of nowhere - SCREAM!!!!!!

Grandma did have some tragedies in her life. When she was on Portland Avenue, Hattie was once robbed by a bunch of thugs. They broke into her apartment, held a rifle to her head while they made away with her purse, money and some other things. This scared her, and it truly broke my heart. She was old and no matter how mean she appeared, I felt she did not deserve this. That is the first time I ever saw my grandmother as frail.

She was still living when my father died. He was 61 at the time of his death. I can remember her being devastated at his passing. She said to me (speaking of my father) “no matter how old they are, they are still your babies.” I will carry those words with me forever, because I feel the same way about my own grown children.

This brings me to grandma’s upstairs neighbor on Portland Avenue, Loodie. I’m not sure if that is how it is spelled or not, but that was her name. I never met or laid eyes on Loodie. Loodie was a drunk and would often times come home in the middle of the night inebriated out of her mind and making a lot of noise, as she fell over chairs and things. Grandma would call her up and scream at her for being so loud, and sometimes threatened to call the police. Grandma and Loodie went at it tooth and nail, all the time. Grandma and Loodie probably had more feuds than grandma and Dorothy Ann did. And believe me, that was a lot.

Grandma didn’t seem the same after the thugs broke in on her. Her health continued to deteriorate at a rapid pace. She was eventually put into a nursing facility on east Jefferson Street. As I often do, I had a sudden urge to visit her. I went into the nursing home to visit her but she did not know who I was. She was half naked. There was a bed sheet that did not cover her. I covered her up because I wanted to protect what little dignity she had left. The place smelled badly of urine. It took several days to get that smell out of my nose and even longer to get it out of my heart. I was crushed when I left the nursing home that day. How could a woman with so much spunk end up like this? It just didn’t seem fitting. She had made a mark on society, several waiters, bus drivers, bus passengers, Dorothy Ann, Dorothy Ann’s kids and Loodie. Now she was reduced to this. Several hours after that nursing home visit, Hattie passed from this world. I can honestly say that her death affected me greatly.

My niece Karen’s high school graduation was around the time of my grandmother’s funeral. I sobbed like a baby at Karen’s graduation for many reasons. Karen was growing up, and my grandmother was gone. I really, honestly did miss her. Despite her meanness, ingratitude and her great lack of tact - I missed her.


Maybe my feelings were not unique and can be explained, or can best be described through the actions of the lady at my grandmother’s funeral. I had not seen this lady before. The mysterious lady came into the funeral home and was at the casket crying like her heart was broken. I mean, this lady was sobbing immensely. I asked one of my uncles who that lady was and they told me it was Loodie.

12 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

I only have a few memories of her. I was so young. I CAN remember her living in front of us, we would bounce balls off of the house and then run and hide when she would come to the window. I personally was not awary of friction between her and mom. Geez, I hope I didn't cause any of that. My favorite memory of her is a conversation I had with her. She was telling me she was my GREAT Grandmother. From that day forward I called her "Grandma the Great"

3:01 PM  
Blogger The Curl said...

I remember Hattie much like you glo, but I do remember her being vengeful. I remember one time, I did not speak to her, and she was suppose to take Me, you and Vicky to the movies, and she cut me out. As you know, we didn't get to go many places and I was devestated. I did go on a trip with her and was thankful she agreed to take me to Detroit to see Aunt Mary and Uncle Elmer. We took a greyhound bus and I soon learned the meaning of the word patience. But it was very enjoyable and I was so grateful to get to go somewhere.

I did love to walk down to her house on Saturday mornings with Daddy. She did love her children and she was always so nice when "clay" came. I always got Club Crackers and colby cheese yum.. Remember all her fights with the burkhart family and how their house burned down and we thought Grandma put a curse on them somehow b/c she disliked them so.

But she did love daddy and just glowed when he came around and of course when I went with him, I got to reap the benefits. I also remember her acting strange almost Jealous of Dorothy Ann. Dorothy didn't take any stuff-especially when it came to her kids.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Michael, I remember Grandma the Great. I always thought that I had forgotten. I wouldn't worry about the ball incident. I think grandma was just grumpy.

Curl, I also remember Grandma not getting along so well with the Burkharts - Again, I had forgotten.

Like I said, I could write a book on Hattie.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Lisa_g said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa_g said...

I never knew her and Mom didn't get along. I guess I'm alot like Mom in the fact that - you can mess with me, but you better not mess with my kids.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Jeanette said...

I too remember the "Grandma The Great"......I also remember many Saturdays when Papaw would be visiting with her and how she hated it when we would intrude on her visit. We knew that he would be coming and we were always excited about getting to see him, so alot of the time we would be waiting for him. We would sit on our porch and wait for him to come out of her apartment. If they were in the kitchen we could see them and if the window was up we could hear them ,but not for long....she would close the window and pull the shade.

I do remember a few occasions when Mom and her would have words. I think she thought we were too noisy. And of course, Mom would take up for us.

I also remember her coming to get me a few times when Kevin was there. For some reason Kevin always wanted to play with me. I was sort of afraid of him, but if I went I knew I'd at least get some kind of snack. Usually orange sherbert ice cream.

I don't remember seeing her much after we moved from Louisville, but I do remember how she cried when Papaw died and that she said a parent is not supposed to out live their children.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Comment on my comments. I actually did write. MIchael I always tought that was cute when you all called her Grandma the Great.

Lisa - I would take up for my kids too. Kids are noisy - period. There IS no keeping them quiet.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Linney Bell said...

That is such a great story. Glo, you are a great writer! Keep it up. I love this!

7:05 AM  
Blogger smae said...

What can I say about grandma Miller. I loved her and always felt so sorry for her. She really had a hard life...her husband drank, she was widowed when she was in her 50's and she had to move to Louisville. For a long time after she moved to Louisville, she worked at the Blue Boar restaurant. There was a place where she lived before Main St. Mary leaf would probably know more. There was an Aunt Minnie there and some young girl. The girl was around my age and when she had a coke, Aunt Minnie would put water in it. Grandma also had an unhappy childhood. There might have been a stepmother involved. I remember she and mother never got along but at the end when we went to the nursing home to visit, mother was the only person she recognized or asked for.
After Dorothy moved out of main street Daddy was going to buy that house. I spoiled that plan by running into a tree and costing the family a bit of money by being in the hospital for a month.
I always got along with grandma Miller. I remember she came with emery and pat on Christmas eve. Once she bought me a gray dress that was so pretty and so soft.
When she was robbed she came to stay with us for awhile. She had just returned from Florida and had not unpacked. The robbers stole her suitcases too. She didn't even have any underwear and was so very upset. Shortly after she died I had rather a "ghostly" experience. She always called me "Sandra" not Sandy. I was asleep in bed one night and I woke up to the sound of someone saying
"Sandra, help me please." It sounded like grandma Miller's voice. The very next day I had a Mass said for her. Shortly afterwards I was once again asleep and was awakened by someone kissing me on the forehead. As I woke up more I thought it was Jerry, but I looked over and he was asleep on his side, snoring like crazy. Of course I woke him up and asked him if he had kissed me on the forehead and he told me I must have been dreaming. My two grandmas were so different...one was sweet and cuddly and the other was "cantankerous", but I loved them both and miss them. Glo you have brought back lots of memories and it is great reading your posts and everyone's comments.

9:18 AM  
Blogger A Flowered Purse said...

Aw what a great post momma!!! I love learning all this stuff about my relatives!!

8:57 PM  
Blogger david said...

What can i say about Mamaw miller? (aint it funny that i called all my grandmothers and great grandmothers Mamaw?)being the oldest of moms kids, i remember her better than the others, and as i think about the years on main street, i beleave i was the cause of most of thr friction between her and mom. As my wife will attest to i have a habit of disagreeing with people. I guess i did this at an early age with Hattie. As every one said momma would go toe to toe against anyone messing with her kids. And upon reflection i instagated some of the problems between them. As someone said she would become very upset with us wanting Papaw Miller (there i go again, all grandpa's are Papaw.) to come back to our house. I really think we were waiting for him mostly because he would give us each a quarter, which i see now as a selfish reason to interrupt her time with him. I never got any candy or stuff from her, because of the trouble i caused between her and mom. i also didn't get along with Kevin which didn't make me fare well with her either. Although as i said i liked to argue with her, she would have to admit, i probley got it partly from her own son. He and my dad would sit arround the card table and argue just to be argueing. So i guess it came to me naturally. I never hated her and now i'm sorry that i caused a lot of the trouble between her and mom.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

David, I think it was just grandma's nature to be cranky. You were just a kid and did kid things. I think Hattie didn't get alaong with too many people. Interesting input.

7:48 AM  

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