Wondering who the "Lillian" is behind "For the Love of Lillian"? That would be my grandmother, Lillian Smith Mulkey.
I was blessed as a child to have one of the most amazing grandmothers around. Though not wealthy by any financial measure and a woman of simple means, she created an oasis rich in experiences for my brothers, sister, cousins and I. She was a safe haven, a place where we could be ourselves without fear of rejection. Saturday afternoons she would take us fishing or run us around the yard in her old wheelbarrow. Sunday evenings would find us in front of her old television, TV trays filled with big dishes of vanilla ice cream and boysenberry filled oatmeal cookies. We would watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom followed by The Wonderful World of Disney. We were spoiled rotten and I don't really recall a time that she ever said "No".
My grandmother’s porch was a place of magic. I suppose if you were to come along and look at it with a critical eye, you wouldn’t have seen much but a collection of old furniture was too worn out to be in the house but was still too good to throw out. Great old rockers and chairs covered with chenille bedspreads. There were piles of magazines and newspapers. The old porch was a bit saggy and worn but the screens kept the bugs out and allowed the air to circulate so that while you sat there under cover and out of the hot sun you could still smell the sweet fragrance of her lilacs and the beautiful flowers that she had planted. We would sit out there with her, sipping sweet tea, reading the Readers Digest or just chatting about life and laughing at silly things. Neighbors would drive by and honk and we would wave. If someone walked past on the sidewalk in front of the house we would holler a hello and often they would come sit for a bit on the porch.
The art of porch sitting was, sadly, lost to me for several years as I struggled to complete high school, get married, have babies, work and build a business. It seemed that there just wasn’t time to ‘waste’ sitting around when there was so much that needed to be done. I was forever feeling like I just didn't have time for the things that I wanted to do because I was too busy doing the things I thought I had to do. I finally came to the realization that, at 48 years of age, I had gotten so wrapped up in my business that I was missing the real things in life. Like sitting on the porch or enjoying my gardens. Or being a grandmother to my grandchildren like my grandmother was to me. Turns out that porch sitting wasn't a waste of time at all. It was a reward for an honest days work and a way to re-wind and gear up for another day.
My grandmother passed away in the spring of 2008 at the age of 92. I wish she could see what I’ve built and the things that I’ve done. I like to think that she would be very proud. Her life was a hard one, though to look at her you would never know it. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned of her mother's death, the tragedy that followed and the years spent traveling as migrant workers with her father and brothers. Yet, she always had a sparkle in her eye and was quick to giggle at the things we would say. I loved her dearly and miss her very much. I would give just about anything to have one more day sitting on the porch with her and hearing her laugh. She used to ask me if I was rich when I would go to visit her and I would always tell her that yes I was. Rich in Love. And Blessed. So incredibly blessed.
This blog is dedicated to her and all the things that she taught me growing up. So much of what I am today was due to her influence in my life. I'm looking forward to sharing the journey back to my roots with you and hope that through my posts, you can get to know a bit about her as well.