The past beats inside of me like a second heart….
There aren’t many days that go by that I don’t remember my grandma’s farm in the rural part of south-central Oklahoma. My maternal great-grandparents came to Indian Territory to homestead in the early 1900s and had a 160-acre parcel suitable for dryland farming, mostly wheat and alfalfa hay. Like every rural farm, they had a variety of livestock and poultry, as well as a huge garden. Self-sufficiency was the only way to survive the hot summers and cold winters as well as the muddy drive by wagon into small-town America on red clay sticky roads.
Memories tell us who we are and how we got there…
Grandad was born in 1881, and Grandma in 1884, near Lookout Mountain, Georgia. They came to homestead in Oklahoma when they were newly married, bringing their livestock and wagons by train to Indian Territory, where they could claim a 160-acre parcel to farm.
Years went by and I was well into my young adulthood when I realized that they were still farming full-time when I was born, with them in their 70s by then. Retirement wasn’t even an option at that time, and the only factor that interrupted their farming was a sudden illness of pneumonia that took my grandad when I was about 10. Grandma didn’t stay on the farm long after that but rather opted to move into town and live with her granddaughter, my mother, for the next decade or so.
My childhood on that small struggling farm was my best childhood memory. When we arrived there, we would go into the old farmhouse and greet my grandma then sneak by her secret stash of corn cakes with sugar frosting. We would each carefully pull one from the pile supposing that she would never know as we headed out the back door to freedom and unimaginable adventures of playtime.
We could head to the old combines stored in high weeds behind the chicken house and pretend they were our sailing pirate ships. We could collect eggs from the hen house, and we were certain to find a blacksnake in there after the eggs which added to the excitement and adventure. We could climb the huge old Mulberry tree which allowed us to drop over into grandma’s garden and steal a strawberry or two, always sweet from the warm summer sun. We could go and play in the hayloft of the big old barn and swing on ropes and drop…