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Posted: May 3, 2011 6:34 p.m.

Giddens: Granny took a non-studious approach to life

The granddog Sophie takes me to some interesting places.

I hold the long leash in as much of an iron grip as I can muster these days, but my control is tenuous at best as the Huskie comes out in her and she pulls me mightily along.

Sometimes she inadvertently takes me back.

One recent morning I watched her longing after a squirrel studiously going about its business two or three leash lengths away, and I found myself telling Sophie, "That squirrel's not studying you."

I smiled. I had just employed a favorite phrase of my grandmother.

When Granny said she was not studying you, she was inferring more than mere inattention: It's a phrase that implies active denial of your very existence.

That's what the tree rodent was doing to Sophie, and Sophie, so intent in her concentration, was in turn doing it to me.

Vessie Rowe Giddens was slight but feisty, one of those no-nonsense women whose spirit was forged during the Great Depression.

She let people know where they stood with her and pulled no punches.
Granny also had issues as a parent, leaving my father and his sister basically to look after themselves.

My grandfather, Jesse, died long before I was born, so I only knew Granny as an independent woman, a force onto herself. She lived with us for a while, then shared homes with various older women around Thomas County before getting an apartment of her own.

She never drove. Her friend Ms. Rawlins was her companion on excursions about town.

There was no mistaking them when they entered a darkened movie theater. The concept of talking in hushed whispers during a screening never occurred to them.

She remarried a couple of times. The story goes that one marriage ended after she and her husband realized that they had just one thing in common: He thought she had inherited land and money, and she thought that he was well off. They were both wrong.

Family lore has it that she asked for a second chance when I was born, and my parents graciously said yes.

She more than redeemed herself in my eyes, warm, loving and always there for me.

Summers, dad and I would lunch with Granny, bountiful spreads of fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, turnips, streak of lean, and a thin cake of white cornmeal cooked in a cast iron skillet. She had two signature dishes: chicken and dumplings and banana pudding.

We'd eat and chat. Dad would doze afterward and I'd play along with Art Fleming and "Jeopardy!"

Granny passed in 1981. Long years in the sun led to melanoma.

The young Methodist minister who presided at her funeral had just returned from a conference and was inspired, wound-up and animated.

But then he started talking about the virtuous woman.
At that my family members shared slight smiles and knowing glances and tried to stifle chuckles.

To enhance the scene, a thunderstorm was approaching the exposed cemetery on the hill. There was lightning, and there was thunder, with wind whipping the tent. We pall-bearers were tentatively thinking of grabbing the metal poles to hold the tent in place, then reconsidering as the lightning approached.

As the storm reached its crescendo, the preacher did, too, just as the downpour arrived.

It was great theater, a larger-than-life send off.

Granny would have loved it.

Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at (678) 750-5011 or at tgiddens@covnews.com.

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