I got a new tattoo on Valentine's Day done by my dear friend, Watson Atkinson. He was traveling from Maine to Georgia on his Twine Street Rambler Tour.
It is in memory of my Grandma Rabun who unknowingly set me on my path for this lifetime and this post is very hard to write because I miss her so much.
When I was very young I would spend my summers with this awesome woman. She is my hero. She gave birth to 9 children. Only 7 lived to adulthood and the lessons they learned from her are endless and the lessons I learned from her are many of the most important lessons I have ever learned.
On Saturdays, my whole family, grandchildren, great grands, friends of grands, aunts, uncles, everyone would gather at her house for the family dinner. We only went once a month because we lived too far away, but it was my favorite weekend of the month. The family was so exciting and there was nothing like a hug from my beloved grandmother Rabun.
We would get up early on Saturday morning (REALLY early) and make the 2 1/2 hour drive. I would sleep most of the way and then when we would reach a little lake off of I20 on the right hand side of the road my parents would wake me to change out of my pajamas to put on my clothes. (You know, this is back when we didn't have to wear seat belts.)
We would arrive at her house to fresh buttermilk biscuits and all the best breakfast yummies. (Secretly, I think she loved this time and got excited for us to come and her have this small window with just us - well with me - or at least that is how I like to think of it. I am the youngest grand child and I lived the furtherest away from her.) She always kept a jar of sorghum syrup for me and would lather my biscuits in butter and syrup - it still makes my mouth water to think of them and there are no biscuits that will ever compare to hers.
We would enjoy our biscuits, I would hug her like crazy, then the cousins would begin to arrive. Her smile would only get bigger throughout the day. She spent the whole day cooking and she loved every moment of it and when the whole family would gather for the prayer to bless the food, I felt like I was home.
There are really no words to express the immense love my Grandma Rabun had for everyone in her life.
In the summer, my parents would drive me up to stay with her for a few weeks. It was ALWAYS the highlight of my summer - even over trips to the beach or anywhere else. She would make me those yummy biscuits every morning and lunch would be left overs and often dinner would be too until they ran out, but I never minded. While we ate she would tell me about her life as a little girl and I would tell her about mine. I was always completely free to be me and I always felt like that was who she loved the most. The me without any walls. The true me.
She would take me fishing in the lake behind her house and she let me gather my first tadpoles. We would shuck the corn she picked at night while watching Dallas (one of her favorite soap opera's, but certainly not over Days of Our Lives.). Our days would be filled with me running in and out of her screen door and it slamming and her just happy to have me around while she busied herself with her projects and her cooking and her gardening. She was always willing to stop what she was doing for anything I needed or just for a hug or to answer a question. She was never cross with me and she never made me feel like I was annoying her.
Then, would come my favorite time of the day. BEDTIME. She lived in a very small house with no air conditioning and she was a FAT woman. We would sleep in the same bed and she would still snuggle me close. I can remember sticking to her skin and not caring because the way she loved was worth it. The rains would come with the thunder and lightening and the tree frogs singing over the lake and she would tell me stories of raising my aunts and uncle, or stories from her childhood, or stories of my grandfather who I don't really remember. This was my favorite because it made her so happy. She really loved him in spite of his problems and the fact they had so many children to raise up.
She died when I was 17 of breast cancer. It was terrible for her. She suffered and it still makes me so sad. Her funeral was by far the hardest I have ever been to. I still cry over losing this beloved woman (I'm crying while I type this). This woman who taught me how to love no matter what. This woman who taught me love is the greatest gift we have to offer.
So, why the iris? When I was young she gave me some iris bulbs. They were one of her favorite flowers and I have many memories of pulling into her yard and it being covered in iris blooms. I still have these same bulbs and I have her irises all over my yard. Every spring when they bloom, I feel my grandma Rabun with me, watching over me. So, now, I have the joy of carrying her with me every where I go as a constant reminder of her love and the love she taught me to give.