Tired of Today’s Crazy Daze? — “Olden days” Answers from Granny’s Abundant Life

IMG_0682I wish I could chat on the back porch or pick vegetables in the garden again with this beautiful lady.  She was 70 when I was born. Until the last couple years of her life (she lived to be 107.5), I never thought of her as  old — she was simply Granny, and I loved her with all my heart. Everyone who knew her did.

One of the last times I saw Granny, she asked if I had rose bushes — she thought I should. Sadly, I couldn’t say yes.  At the time, I thought I was too busy  to spend much time in the yard. My gardening wasn’t in the same league as hers — or my beautiful mother’s.

Now I’m an empty nester, and I know there’s much to learn from Granny — her life, her  dinner table, garden and her roses — and that just maybe, I should have made time to apply the values, priorities and principles I so admired– even way back when I had young children. It’s never too late to learn worthy things from a life well lived.

Granny hadn’t been  widowed very long when I was born. I’m sure she was lonely sometimes, but it wasn’t apparent to me. People were always at her house; she was vibrant, interesting and overflowing with love and caring. She didn’t let her struggles define her.  I never heard many complaints about her own circumstances or the actions of others. To the contrary, there was a contentment about her that was very appealing. Even in the challenges of her later years, there was a graciousness about Granny that allowed her to accept her limitations with humor and peace.

still in school at 102
still in school at 102

A teacher at heart, she was well into her 90s when she volunteered to read at the elementary school.  I’m sure she never thought of herself as “old on the inside.” Certainly not as obsolete or without value and purpose. Kid’s from all over town called her Granny — and loved her. I think they knew she sincerely cared for and enjoyed each one of them.

I always felt that way too. She wrote me regular letters in college, and when I moved nearby as an adult, she lovingly gave love and garden memories to my children and all their generation. She valued the simple things and lived a full  life, much of it doing what others might consider mundane tasks. Her attitude and the joy she brought to her chores made them the heart of a beautiful life.

She cooked a big “dinner” (the noon meal) almost everyday and always had a table full of lively guests to enjoy fresh vegetables from her garden, cornbread, sweet tea… Everything was full of flavor — never lacking in protein, carbs or fat. Granny was back and forth to the kitchen — one of the most serving people I’ve ever known, but not in a “Martha” kind of way. Granny was a deliberate and attentive “Mary,” and time with her never felt rushed or stressful.

Granny's dining room and roses
Granny’s dining room and roses

Whether on the back porch with it’s chearful oil cloth and box fans or in the dining room with sterling silver and her best china and linens, dinner was about being together — often visiting for an hour or so after dessert. We were in south Georgia without air conditioning, but it’s  funny, I’ve never associated being hot with Granny’s house. I’m sure I was hot, it just wasn’t significant enough to remember.

Her house was big and rambling on small town Broad Street. When I would visit, I would let myself in the front door (which had no lock) and call out as I walked toward the kitchen. If she wasn’t there, I went right out the squeaky back door and into Granny’s garden.  As a little girl, I thought her whole house and especially the back yard was a magical place… and I never grew out of that feeling.

I can see her now — doubled over working in a sleeveless, cotton dress (she never owned a pair of pants), yard shoes, and a baseball cap to shield the sun. She’d look up and push away wisps of curly hair that spilled from her bun (she never cut her hair either). She would smile like I had made her whole day by visiting.  I was never an interruption, despite her earnest work. She made me feel special, loved and wanted — and she always encouraged me in all my activities.

IMG_0673There were all sorts of  vegetables in her garden, but  her roses… they were her pride and joy.

In the days when weddings were in churches and receptions in the fellowship hall, Granny provided buckets of roses for many a bride.

Toward the end of her life, Florida State asked her to ride in the homecoming parade, as the oldest living graduate of FSU (FSCW in her day). Always humble, she declined, and they sent her a beautiful arrangement — roses, of course. During one of our last visits, she tenderly reminisced about how much TLC roses need and the privilege and rewards of tending them. Another curious thing — I don’t remember there being a lot of roses in her house; I think she gave most of them away.

IMG_0677She was a smartsimple, humble, beautiful woman. She loved Jesus and read her Bible — but didn’t preach or wear her religion on her sleeve; it was a natural part of all she was.  She lived her faith and shared His love. She loved His creation and walked and talked with God in their garden.

She read books, kept up with the news, had hobbies and loved her family. But the purpose of everything she was, learned and did seemed to be to give it away. She was active in civic clubs and the church, but much of her philanthropy was unofficial and without a tax deduction — simply loving and serving whoever God entrusted to her by putting them in her life.

IMG_0684Granny never flew on a plane or saw anything outside of driving distance. She worked hard, but never “worked out” or “counted calories and carbs.” She drank a touch of wine when it was offered but didn’t take vitamins or drink green shakes. She ate small meals throughout the day and stayed actively engaged in life right up to the end.

She never dyed her hair or had a professional mani-pedi. In my memory, she didn’t wear a stitch of makeup, and her dresses were not the latest fashions. She was ahead of her time in not liking stockings. Her legs usually had scratches from the garden and her face was wrinkled with laugh lines. Yet — without any qualifiers — I think all who knew her would call Granny beautiful and her life abundant.

Remembering Granny, I think maybe we spend too much time today searching for ways to reduce our wrinkles, waistlines,  gray hairs, and discomfort. And trying to increase our lifespans, our “friend” lists, leisure, and wardrobes. Maybe the good life is simpler and a whole lot more than what the world says we should go after. Granny certainly proves the most beautiful part of any woman is found in seeing her heart and soul.

IMG_0686The olden days are attractive to a lot of us — hence the popularity of magazines like Real Simple and the trend toward minimizing. But the reality is that times are different. I’m not suggesting we garden in skirts, avoid airplanes and throw out all our makeup!  It’s worth noting that adapting to changing times is an important indicator for happiness and longevity. Granny’s life span included a lot of acclimating and re-acclimating. Nor should we start saving bacon grease to season our veggies or shun modern medical advancements. I bet Granny would use olive oil today, too.

But could it be that we give the common idols of today’s popular culture way too much time and attention? Are we running so hard and trying to do and be so much in our crazy busy world that we have no time for other people?

IMG_0680What can we learn from all the beautiful people (past and present, of all ages) who model abundant life? I think they share many traits (in bold above) with my Granny — traits we can emulate and intentionally develop when we slow down — resist following the culture of the day —  and seek real relationships, beauty and abundant life.

 The hymn to sing at Granny’s funeral was easy — In the Garden by Charles A Miles

  1. I come to the garden alone,
    While the dew is still on the roses,
    And the voice I hear falling on my ear
    The Son of God discloses.

    • Refrain:
      And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
      And He tells me I am His own;
      And the joy we share as we tarry there,
      None other has ever known.
  2. He speaks, and the sound of His voice
    Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
    And the melody that He gave to me
    Within my heart is ringing.
  3. I’d stay in the garden with Him,
    Though the night around me be falling,
    But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
    His voice to me is calling.


 If you would like to receive future posts by email, comment below and check the appropriate boxes. You can unsubscribe at any time.

20 thoughts on “Tired of Today’s Crazy Daze? — “Olden days” Answers from Granny’s Abundant Life

  1. Yes..it is all so true …. although I knew her for such a short time, I was immediately fond of her and your story is so sweet and touching. Granny was like an angel to all she met. She could make you feel so comfortable just with her smile….like a rose bloom.
    Louise , you did a good job of her story.

  2. What a dear, loving tribute to Granny Mabel!! She certainly left an amazing legacy! Thanks for the reminder of simpler times where faith & relationships were most important. ❤️

    1. Becca — I know you were blessed some “Grannys” in your life too! Remember getting off on Mt. Paran for a lovely spaghetti dinner in the middle of our 8 hour drives? What beautiful memories! And I have no doubt you are the modern day Granny to a lot of young people! Love you!!

  3. Louise, I loved this blog, the memories, and the pictures. Granny was the definition of love in so many ways. I am sure she touched more lives than we can possibly imagine.
    Thanks for reminding us of the beautful simplicity of the “old days” and of our Grandmother who graced them.
    Love, Mames

    1. Mames — reading your words made me tear up. We were so fortunate to have both Grannys right there with us growing up. Granny Mabel was the epitome of love and caring and More Granny of spunk! The older I get the more I love and appreciate them! It was fun remembering… my post got too long so I had to cut out the blocks in the living room — starting her car without a key — Christmas night at her house — the farm — eating strawberries off the bushes — eating oranges with a straw in the top driving to Furman bc they quenched hunger and thirst… and so many more wonderful memories. Love you!

  4. Louise, you did a BEAUTIFUL job sharing the life of Granny. She was always Teaching, Loving and Sharing.
    I was ask to join her Circle (Ladies Bible Study)after moving back. I was my early 20’s and she just as young as we were and with so much wisdom to share.
    Thank you for a reminder of a Special Lady.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories, Bett! She really was young at heart and so special! I hope you’re feeling better and healing well!

    1. Thank you, Ed. I would love to resemble Granny in any way! She was such a love — and I was blessed to have her and my other grandmother (one of the spunkiest women you’d meet) both in my hometown!

  5. We have been in the mountains and the computer reception up there is not good, so I just got to read your tribute to Granny. So beautiful. She taught me so many things from gardening, to cooking, to studying my Bible. You referenced how young at heart she was and I remember her telling me once that she might be an old looking woman on the outside, but she still felt like a young woman on the inside. And I find that to be so true in my life as well. BTW: that was some wild hair in that dining room pic! 😉

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories, Teresa! She was such a wonderful role model! I miss her still. And the hair… oh my! Maybe I needed a bun like Granny too!

  6. Louise — Loved your post about “Miss” Mabel! She truly was an amazing woman & Christian! She was like a grandmother to me, and I have so many wonderful memories of days & nights spent at her warm & loving home on Broad Street. She was so dear to all of our family. Your mother was always good about bringing her over to visit, and Daddy loved visiting her at her house after he retired. They spent alot of quality time together which I know they both enjoyed. So thanks for capturing a beautiful, loving woman so beautifully. She was a blessing to all who knew her. Love, Jane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *