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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home (01/09/06)

TITLE: If the Green Beans Don’t Kill You… ( The Gospel Quartet Will)
By Kenny Blade


Having never been asked to leave a funeral, I must admit the request took us by surprise.

The young lady who made this appeal to my brother and I meant well. One of my grandmother’s stepchildren from her 4th or 5th marriage, I forget which. Objectively speaking, I really couldn’t fault her for suggesting we avoid the funeral procession rush and break away early to make the buffet at “Senor Jim-Bob Wong’s” Ameri-Mexanese restaurant. We were being awfully jovial given this somber occasion.

Only it wasn’t somber occasion if you really knew my grandmother. Lying in state before an audience as diverse as a U.N. luncheon (provided of course that there is a country off the coast of lower Alabama called Hill-Billivia) was a woman two-thirds Mother Teresa and one-third Mae West. Multiple Sclerosis was supposed to have punched her time ticket by age 16. She survived cancer, heart trouble, the aforementioned MS and a virtual smorgasbord of other ailments. She lived to the age of 69 and along the way had one beautiful daughter (our mom) and attended the funerals of at least five husbands.

It’s true she collected husbands like many people collect stamps, with the only possible difference being that the husbands apparently didn’t stick. That however is a subject for another day. The reason my brother and I were being admonished is that our recollection of our grandmother had brought us to tears – of laughter.

Finding humor on this day was something many there found appalling. To us, it was the only way to truly honor her memory. Aside from my Creator’s gift of salvation, I believe that my grandmother bestowed upon me my greatest gift: An unusual sense of humor.

Consider the following:

The only Caucasian my grandmother ever trusted was Oral Roberts. She lived in an African-American neighborhood and told us repeatedly never to trust white people.
My grandmother was of American Indian and Irish descent, the same as us.

Her punishment when we acted up consisted of filling a squirt gun with warm soapy water and shooting us with it when we least expected. MS made it difficult for her to walk, but that squirt gun was the long arm of the law in her house.

She smoked unfiltered cigarettes from a Gloria Swanson style holder and kept them in a plastic carry case that had a hula dancer on it. When you turned the case upside-down, the grass skirt fell to the ground. When you’re a little boy, there isn’t much cooler than that.

She loved watching Southern gospel groups on Sunday morning. My brother and I hated it worse than eating spinach and chasing it with prune juice. Understanding our distaste for these Kingdom crooners, she would place a foot in the small of each of our backs and require us to lie in the floor and listen to these
Gold-jacketed troubadours dream of touring that city for hours on end.

Her goal in life, I think, was to disguise green beans so that her 5th husband (the only grandfather we ever knew) couldn’t detect them. He had this theory that he was allergic to green beans and they would cause his demise. She sought to prove him wrong by slipping them into every dish from spaghetti to rice pudding, then snickering as he unknowingly consumed the venomous vegetable.

A little strange? No. A LOT strange. And we loved every minute we spent with her. She was what writers call a character. She was what we called grandmother. An incredible concoction of maddening delightfulness. She taught us what it meant to beat the odds. To trust God when nothing around you seems trustworthy. Mostly, she taught us that laughter will erase the deepest hurt. Sure she had her flaws. So did that beat up old quilt we slept under when we stayed at her house. Both of them made us feel the same:
Warm, comfortable and safe.

She once told me she didn’t belong here. She said this wasn’t her real home. As the preacher spoke that day about how she had lived her life, I realized she was right. Because of her health, she was never able to run though a field of flowers on a summer’s day. As the preacher spoke, I closed my eyes and there she was - Running through a field of perfect yellow daisies, leaping into the waiting arms of her Savior.

And she laughed.

For now… now she was finally home.

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This article has been read 873 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Christl Boyd01/16/05
Quite a tribute! I feel like if I passed the Grandmother on the streets in heaven, I could point her out! Thanks for sharing.
Julianne Jones01/16/05
The title enticed me in and I ended up smiling throughout this humorous story. Loved the grandmother's quirkiness: everyone needs a grandmother like that! Well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/16/06
Hehe, I've gotten in trouble for laughing in moments like that, too. I enjoyed the glimpse of your grandmother!
Genstacia Bull01/16/06
I needed to smile and this article did just that. Well done, very well written.Catchy title too!
Birdie Courtright01/16/06
I want to be like your grandmother when I grow up! Where do you suppose she got that hula-dancer? On second thought, when I grow up...I want to write like you!!! This is great! Hurry up! Write some more!
Kris St. James01/17/06
I loved this from start to finish! Hope you win!
Leslie Lamb01/18/06
What a colorful character in your portrayal of the lighter side of life. Your descriptions were novel and made me laugh. The title says it all!
Venice Kichura01/18/06
This article deserves to win!
Shari Armstrong 01/18/06
I had just had to read this after I saw the title -and I wasn't disapointed!!! Wonderful! I was laughing right along :)
Val Clark01/19/06
What a delightful woman. Glad you got the funny gene. Thanks for posting this slice of your life and reminding me not to take myself too seriously. Yeggy
Candice Kettell01/20/06
Beautifully written. Full of character. made me smile. Laugh. Liked the way you ended it.
Gabrielle Morgan01/20/06
Great story, well written, and compelling to read. Your grandmother sounds a wise and interesting soul, and your writing a great tribute to her.
Shannon Redmon01/20/06
I wish she were my grandmother too! Sounds like she was alot of fun!
Cassie Memmer01/21/06
Great style, great writing. I very much enjoyed this!
Maxx .01/21/06
Made me laugh and shudder all at the same time! loL! Good work!
Lynda Lee Schab 01/21/06
I loved this! There were so many great lines throughout that made me laugh. You definitely have a way with words. Wonderful humor writing, yet a touching tribute to an obviously unforgettable woman. Great work!
Blessings, Lynda
Marilyn Schnepp 01/22/06
Ditto! The Title snared me! You definitely are another Lewis Grizzard! If you don't know of him...then you won't realize this is a Very High compliment! When LG passed away, the newspaper lost it's appeal for me. His Syndicated Column was what sold papers in the South! You have a great talent...keep up the good work!
Joanne Sher 08/18/06
You KILL me, Kenny! What a wonderful tribute - and an AMAZINGLY hilarious telling. Thanks for pointing us this way.
Claudette Wood08/18/06
Ken, this was excellent. That's the kind of grandma I want to be...one that my grands will remember who loved life and loved THEM. Thanks for these precious memories. Hey, I think that's an old gospel quartet song... "Precious Memories...."