Feature Story: She was my secret keeper

Eleventh in a series of stories (hopefully) about women who have influenced us as part of Women’s History Month.

Grandma Madison and her great-grandson, Joel, in the early 1990s.

COCHRAN, GEORGIA: When I was around 12 years old, I played hooky from school. My dad was going to work, and my mom had things to do away from the house. I complained I had a belly ache.

Who was going to watch me?

My mom’s mom and dad had just moved to town to a house across the street from us. It was their first day in Georgia.

Frances Mildred Poplin Madison, my maternal grandmother, took one look at me when my parents tried to decide what to do.

It was like she knew. “Oh, we will keep an eye on her.” I looked down at my feet, and cut my eyes back toward my grandma. She winked at me, and took my hand, leading me upstairs to get dressed.

That wasn’t the first secret of mine that Grandma and I would share. She was just that type of grandmother – beyond the apron and the delicious home-baked cookies and the enveloping hugs – she was my friend.

As a preacher’s wife, a mother of three, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of …. I can’t count that high but it is more than 10, Grandma Madison had many roles.

And she tackled them with determination, ethics and a lot of unconditional love.

Her passions included her family, cooking, working in the yards as they got older – they being my grandpa and grandma, and endless games of Scrabble®. Grandma loved the Lord, and her Bible. She enjoyed reading other things too.

When I was in middle school, I had the opportunity to get one of my cousins’ dog’s puppies. Grandma was worried that my dog would be lonely, and though she was not a ‘dog’ person, she had them bring one of the dogs home for her too.

Grandma freely admitted to her own flaws, and used them as examples in teachable moments. She was a fine example of a woman of distinction and influence.

Losing Grandma Madison was like losing a vital piece of my being. But then, I was blessed enough to be able to say that about both of my grandfathers and my paternal grandma. I was there the day she died, and watched them wheel her out of the house on a stretcher. I drove Grandpa to the hospital, and Mom came behind us.

We were waiting in the waiting room in the hospital emergency area when I had to get up and walk. I walked back toward the emergency room … into the room where my grandma lay on the bed. Nurses were around her, and machines were beeping. It was obvious that Grandma had already passed, but the staff was doing what they were expected to do.

I walked toward the bed, and I heard one of the nurses say, “Oh. That is her granddaughter.” They let me through, and I took her hand in mine. There was no coldness as one feels on someone who is no longer there. In fact, the room, which had been dimly lit before, seemed a little brighter, and the chill wasn’t eerie, but offered a peacefulness.

And I couldn’t expect any less as God took Grandma home.

It has been a while since she has left us, and memories and sounds of her voice has faded a little.

There is an afghan in my closet that I get out occasionally that my grandma knitted. There are days that I just wrap myself in Grandma’s afghan, and I remember- I remember Grandma’s touch, her infectious smile and her willingness to make sure each one of us was happy.

Grandma Madison with her infectious smile

And that is why, she is one of the most influential women in my life.

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Author: rlhwrites

Curator of prose and such.

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