The saying goes “you can pick your friends, but not your relatives”.  Well, let me tell you, I’m so proud of my relatives and you are about to hear about some of them. We recently had our annual “Cook Reunion”. Now, take my word for it. That is a bunch of great kinfolk.

My Granny and Granddaddy Cook (Carl and Ruth) were and still are the most special people in my life.  My mom (Martha) gave physical birth to me — but Granny and Granddaddy gave life to me.  That is probably hard for most people to understand and I can’t fully explain it here.  I’ll just say I was the first grandchild and I admit I was ‘spoiled rotten’.

They have both gone on to their heavenly rest but I still have tears of so much joy and tears of sadness over not having them with me now.  But I will always have their memories.  I grew up with Mom’s brothers and sisters in a way that makes them very special to me.  I don’t consider them my uncles and aunts, but my older brothers and sisters.  And they tell me that they feel the same way.  And I believe they really do.

I was about nine years old when Granddaddy went to heaven, but I remember some special times with him.  As a young girl he would sit me on his knee and sing.  Or he would sit me on a horse and lead us around in the field.  After he had a stroke he couldn’t do any of those things, but I still loved him so very much.  I remember him being in the bed and I would sit beside him just basking in his love. 

Then came the time for him to go ‘home’ to be with Jesus.  That is the first real experience I had with death.  Back then, they brought the bodies home for the ‘wake’.  I remember sitting beside the casket all night because I couldn’t leave my Granddaddy.  I guess that’s when I realized he wouldn’t be singing to me anymore.  Or holding my hand as we walked to church.  But I’m okay with that now because I know that someday we will sing together again when “all of God’s singers get home’.

And right beside us will be Granny Cook.  Granny could sing just as good as Granddaddy, but she didn’t do it as often.  As I said before, Granddaddy went to heaven when I was a child, but I was very fortunate to have Granny until I was an adult.  And I’m so very happy that she was here for my daughters to know a little bit about.

Granny would sit in the kitchen breaking beans or washing clothes on that ole-timey ringer washing machine.  Granddaddy worked out in the fields and Granny worked in the house cooking and cleaning and of course ‘spoiling’ her granddaughter.  Some people say you don’t really appreciate someone until they’re gone.  Well, believe me, that was not true for me.  I always knew how very special Granny and Granddaddy were.  And I told them often how much I loved them.

I would help Granny “gather the eggs”.  And back then the chicken dinners we had didn’t come from a resturant.  They came from the backyard.  And they were much better than the ones we have today.  And the sausage and bacon came from the backyard also.  We had greasy hands from helping with ‘canning’ the sausage.  And the milk came straight from the cow.  (My granddaughter Olivia just turns up her nose and makes a weird face when I tell her about those ‘good ole days’).

Granny always wore an apron and I have one of them that I proudly have displayed in my kitchen.  I also have a quilt that she made.  These are precious items that I cherish so very much.  And when someone visits my home I always have to show them my Granny’s apron and quilt.

Granny always had health problems and wasn’t able to attend church like others, but she lived her life in a way that she showed Jesus everyday.  I can still hear her singing “Amazing Grace” and  her life let others know that she had that grace. I’ll never be able to accomplish it, but I’ve always wanted to be just like my Granny.

Even after I grew up and had a family of my own, I spent a lot of time with Granny.  I knew if I had a problem I could always talk to her about it.  She never critized anyone.  She always said “if you can’t say something good about someone, then just don’t say anything”.  And that’s how she lived her life.

I recall the day Granny went to join Granddaddy.  She had been very ill and I had gone back to my house in Damascus for something.  My aunt (sis) Eleanor called and said that I needed to get back to Granny.  All the way there I prayed for God to let me say ‘goodbye’ to her.  And He did.  I walked into her room and took her hand.  I told her how much I loved her and she smiled and slowly took her last breath on this side of heaven.   Letting go of her hand was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  But as I said before.  I’ll sing and hold Granny and Granddaddy’s hands again.

Well, I said I’d tell you about my ‘kinfolk’ – and I did – the two most important people in my life.  Next time I’ll tell you about some more of them.  Until then I’ll just keep recalling memories and singing along the way.  I hope you have some memories about the special people in your lives also.  And don’t forget to tell them how much you love them.