Thanks For The Memories, Loisie
Some of my earliest childhood memories include her. She always had a smile on her face, she always had perfectly dyed strawberry blonde hair and perfectly manicured nails, and she always called me “Janie”. She always made me feel special. Her name was “Loisie” and she was my grandmother.
My granddaddy died when I was only three years old so I don`t remember her life with him. But I do remember my mother telling me about him and how much he loved my Loisie. They shared such a sweet love story that lasted her entire life, and she never remarried after he passed away.
Loisie’s mother (my great grandmother Ezar) lived with her for as long as I can remember, even before Papa died. They played bridge with a foursome once a week, and at night, they played solitaire together. When they dressed up they wore hats, pearls, and white gloves.
Ezar and Loisie kept busy with their hands. They crocheted pot holders and knitted many beautiful afghans to give us at Christmas. Ezar made intricate lace and hand sewed it to pillowcases, towels, and tablecloths, and they used those freshly starched tablecloths and cloth napkins on their dinner table (Loisie would judge a restaurant by their tablecloths). They made gingham aprons and trimmed them with zigzag. Loving to give their homemade treasures away, they made sure each of us had our own collection.
It was a special treat to spend the night with my grandmother and her mother. Loisie kept little glass coke bottles in the refrigerator for tea parties. On special occasions, she would make a coke “highboy” complete with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. She made sugar cookies to freeze and would pull them out when any of us kids visited. Her old brown sofa would open and serve as my bed when I stayed over.
For Christmas Eve dinner we would spend time with them at their apartment. Loisie had the most beautiful dishes trimmed in a thick gold border with glasses to match. We only got to use them on Christmas Eve, but it was so special to see them on the table that one night each year. She made delicious yeast rolls served with REAL butter, not margarine like we were used to having at home! She made my Daddy sugared grapefruit rinds each year for Christmas. No one else liked them, but she faithfully made them for him. She made ambrosia for dessert with pound cake.
Ezar and I had a combo birthday dinner every year where we celebrated together since her birthday was the day after mine. My grandmother would ask me what I wanted for my birthday dinner and I always requested the same thing: chicken pot pie with frozen fruit salad. Loisie made the best crust to go under that chicken pot pie, then she’d lace the top with more crust strips. If there was any crust leftover—I think she always made extra—she would roll it out on a floured surface to make us some “curlies”. She would pat that rolled dough with butter, then sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar over the top, roll it up tightly, and slice it. I can still remember how good those curlies tasted, warm, right out of the oven. When I make pie crusts, I do the same thing with extra dough and I smile thinking of her.
In the summer, she would wait until the clear seed peaches were in season and make her famous peach meringue pie. It was a family affair. She would make the crust and Ezar would make the filling. And you wouldn’t believe the meringue that Mother would whip up…it stood 3-4 inches tall! That was my favorite summer treat. Now, I’m determined to make a peach pie every summer using Loisie's hand written recipe.
As much as she loved each of her grandchildren, there was a special bond between my grandmother and mother. They were best friends and they talked daily. Loisie passed along so many gifts to Mother: her gift of entertaining, her gift of making things with her hands, her gift of cooking, her gift of putting family first, and her heart of compassion. They shared a mutual respect and love for each other.
Life happened and in 1974 Ezar died at 96 years old. At the time, she was still living in the apartment with Loisie. Then more life happened and when Loisie was in her 90s, she moved in with Mother. Neither of them ever complained about the situation, Mother was glad to take care of her. We think Loisie held on as long as she did because she didn't want to leave my mother. One day toward the end, I leaned over her bed and promised her that we would take care of Mother now. It was okay for her to go to heaven. Our family gathered around her bed and softly sang hymns to her in those final hours. Shortly after that, she entered into God’s presence.
Life has continued to happen and now, I am a grandmother. I think of my Loisie often on special occasions when I get her cloths out. I think of her when I pull my apron drawer open. I wish I had saved more of those gingham aprons with ric rac on the bottom. I still have a few of her pillow cases that she stitched together with that hand sewn lace, but I only use them on special occasions, and I proudly display those special gold dishes that we used on Christmas Eve.
As I get older and think back to my early years, I wish I had listened better when she told stories of her life. I wish I had written them down. I wish I had journaled about our family's history. Although I no longer remember all of the details, I do remember how loved I always felt around her.
I cherish the legacy she left with us. I want to be just like her, sharing things that matter most with those I love.
Thanks for the memories, sweet Loisie!
Jane Lazenby is a writer and an artist who loves to create paintings and stories of God's grace for others to enjoy. She is a wife, a mother of three, and a grandmother of two. Her first book Expressions comes out in September. Join Jane for her book launch in Birmingham, AL and see more at www.janelazenbyart.com.