a letter to my grandparents

Dear Ma and Pa,

It is Sunday afternoon in the first week of autumn in South Carolina, and I am thinking of you and the visits we used to have on Sundays. I can see you both standing on the tiny concrete block that was your back door stoop while you waved goodbye to me as I honked my car horn and drove up the little hill away from the small dingy house that badly needed a fresh coat of white paint. Why can I see the paint peeling now but never noticed it when you lived there? I guess it wasn’t important to any of us then.

When I think of you, I always picture the moment I am leaving rather than the hours I spent talking and laughing and eating and drinking the sweet iced tea you made yourself, Ma. You actually boiled the tea bags and made a dark strong tea which I probably wouldn’t have liked as much if you hadn’t sweetened it with several cups of Dixie’s Pure Cane Sugar.  I wish I had known then to tell you how good it was, but that kind of tea was all I knew. We never bought sweet tea anywhere else, thanks to yours. I’m telling you now it was delicious. I miss it as I miss you this sleepy Sunday afternoon.

We have two dogs, Pa. Spike and Charly. Charly is a little brindle colored dog with white trim that reminds me of your old bird dog Scooter. I remember you used to try to make Scooter talk to you so he would howl and howl when you told him to speak, and then you would laugh and laugh and interpret for me.  Scooter had the same thing to say every time. Howww are youuuuu…and then shake his big old head like he was laughing with us. Charly is equally talkative – but without any prompting from me and with an annoying sharp bark which I have now learned to translate as get up and go get me my food, lazy woman. You would get a kick out of this little dog, Pa, but you wouldn’t, Ma.  You were the only person on either side of my family that never loved a dog. I knew it. We all knew it, but I didn’t have the good common sense to ask why. I wish I had asked.

I got married this year in April on the 24th., three days after my seventieth birthday. I know you always wanted me to get married and had almost given up hope. The one tiny little hiccup, Ma, was that I married a woman rather than a man. Now I’m sure that doesn’t shock you…not really if you stop to think about it. Just think of the fun we could have talking about my wife who reminds me so much of you. I skipped a generation backwards and married a woman who has an awesome sense of fun and humor just like you had, Ma. And she’s beautiful and smart but the best part is she loves me back. Imagine the gossip you would have to tell Vivian McCune. Don’t worry – she won’t be surprised, either.

I’m thinking of both of you this afternoon, and I just wanted to tell you how much I love you. I’m sorry I hurt you by moving so far away from my Texas roots. I never meant to stay gone, truly I didn’t. Talking to you every Sunday afternoon on the phone just wasn’t the same as being together and sharing family stories, was it? I missed too much time with you in my adult life, but I owe you for much of my happiness in my childhood. You both were a gift of love that I try to pass on to my family and friends today.

A Sunday afternoon letter isn’t even as good as a phone call, but how I wish I’d saved the ones you wrote me faithfully every Monday, Ma. It’s old blue Monday, you’d say every week…

Just remember I still love you both with all my heart and think of you more and more as the years go by and the times change more than the seasons. I will write more later.

Your granddaughter,

Sheila Rae


About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
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13 Responses to a letter to my grandparents

  1. boblamb says:

    Another grand slam, Sheila. That’s two in a row, I think, or maybe two out of 3. I’m so tired of politics, I sometimes just skip articles on the subject, even yours. But keep on doing what you’re doing to turn out such good essays so often.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Bob…sometimes I think I post too often, but last night a friend asked me why I wasn’t writing as much so I thought damn, maybe I’ve gotten complacent.
      I got a good laugh out of your telling me you skipped my political articles – I really can’t blame you.
      I always care what you think – let me know if I’ve gotten off track.


  2. hulanne@earthlink.net says:

    That is beautiful, Sheila.  I hope my grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren remember me in such an awesome way.  Actually, I hope they have a way with words the way you do too !  You are perfect at putting things the way I wish I could.  You are a special lady.             Love,                  Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heather Hartt says:

    I was thinking of my Grandpa CH today and my Granny Baxley. What I wouldn’t give for one more visit with both of them. You know how much Grandpa loved to travel and at this moment in our lives Bill and I are being blessed with opportunities to travel. I am actually writing this from Nashville, Tennessee and San Felipe, Texas. So many things I wish I could share with both of them. Thank you for writing this and sharing with us. Hugs and love to you cousin!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are your grandfather’s granddaughter for sure – he did so love to travel…and he would be so tickled that you and Bill are having wonderful opportunities…hugs and love to you and all of your family, Heather – I’m always glad to hear from you!


  4. Bob Slatten says:

    That was just lovely, and I’m sure your grandparents heard every word.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. rockyden says:

    THIS is so fantastic and , Yes, here we go again, me and you cousin, so many things seem to happen at the same time for us, yesterday afternoon i thought so much of both grandma’s, boring and piepenbrok. Inspired me to write a short story. Look in your email within the next few days. take care, church organist………….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thom Hickey says:

    Very touching. Thom

    Liked by 1 person

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