This last weekend I flew back to say goodbye to my grandmother, Mur.
I became part of her family through marriage. Not mine. My Dad's. When I was six I gained a step-family. Soon after the wedding in Texas I went with this new part of my family to Oklahoma to visit my step-mom's parents. I did not know at the time the impact they would have on me.
I'm not even sure I realized until very recently the truly full impact. Of course I saw it in my involvement with horses. As I visited the farm this last trip, I walked the paddock where I rode for the first time. I ran my hand along the welded pipe fencing that I climbed over and through so many times over the years. That impact on my life was easy to see. There were things that were deeper that are just now coming to the surface.
The paddock where I first learned to ride.
It wasn't until I sat there during the funeral service that I started counting the ways Mur has influenced my life. My recipe book is filled with "from Mur" recipes. My children watch (and will soon help!) me snap green beans. When we have beans and cornbread I always serve it with pear relish (a "from Mur" recipe) that I have canned myself (just as she did). Growing a garden...Snickerdoodles... Red Velvet Cake... Goulash... And the list goes on.
But, it's not just the physical actions in which I see my grandmother. The real impact from her was with the acceptance and inclusion. Whether or not you were family, you were family. I felt it in a very real way when I knew without a doubt that I would be welcome at their house always. Even after my dad and step-mom split.
During my first trip to the farm after the divorce of my dad and step-mom, Mur pulled me aside and reiterated that I was family, no matter what.
The pear tree where Mur would send me if I wanted pear cobbler. -which I always did!
I usually spent about a month in Oklahoma in the summer. There was always someone extra at the dinner table - and if you are from the south you know that by "dinner" I mean the middle of the day meal. Mur came from the generation that always extended an invitation to whomever was around after church.
I learned hospitality from Mur, and how to serve a big group.
If I were to ask my grandparents why they were the way they were, I know the answer I would get. They would look at me and say, "Because that is what God calls us to." They really believed that and lived what they believed every. single. day.
The "Back 80". The best place ever for a girl and a horse. It has about 60 acres of open space.
Mur and Pa might not have taught me the subtleties of theology, but they did teach me simple faith. That lesson has carried me through many hard times. Sometimes it doesn't matter whether I am a Calvinist or a Wesleyan; whether I believe in predestination or not. Sometimes it is just enough to know that Jesus loves me. That is what Mur taught me. Over and over at the funeral service I heard how Mur wanted everyone to know that Jesus loved them.
I will always be grateful for the wonderful memories and for the things that I learned in Oklahoma. This last weekend I walked through the 200+ acres that comprised the farm. As I walked I had so many sweet memories come back to me. Everywhere I looked I remembered being on horseback. I rode several different horses over the years and each had it's own season. One horse I rode up and down the creek and through most of the treed areas. Another horse was the first one I ever swam. That was a fun experience. There was the horse I jumped and the horse that dumped and drug me. I saw the pond that I learned to fish in.
The pond I first swam a horse. The water is super low this year.
The creek bed that I used to ride up and down. Again, super low on water.
So, when birthdays come around I will continue to make red velvet cakes. I will add bread crumbs when I saute vegetables.
And, I will strive to show the hospitality that was modeled for me.
Oklahoma red dirt
When I think of dessert at the farm I think of Mur's scotch cake. I have no idea how it got its name, but it was always yummy.
Mur's Scotch Cake
2 C Flour
2 C Sugar
1 Stick Butter (1/2 C)
4 T cocoa powder
1 C water
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 C Buttermilk
1 t Vanilla
1 t Soda
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and soda in a bowl. In a sauce pan mix butter, water and cocoa. Bring to a boil. Pour cocoa mixture into flour mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
1 stick butter (1/2 C)
6 T milk
4 T cocoa
1 box powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
In a sauce pan bring butter, cocoa and milk to a boil. Add other ingredients. Mix well pour over warm cake.