Make a lasting impression

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cruising the laundry aisle at Walmart, I stopped when I realized that we needed laundry soap. I stopped just short of putting my regular liquid in the buggy as the thought of my grandmother crossed my brain.

When I was growing up, Granny Neat – a registered nurse at the Opp hospital – always hung the clothes on the line to dry. A little stiff and a bit scratchy when you first put them on, but there was nothing like the smell. To this day, I haven’t smelled anything else like it. The closest way I can describe it is a mixture of freshly cut grass, soap and that unique smell of her.

A nurse, she was all about cleanliness. She believed Clorox could kill anything and was the cure for everything; that everything had its place; and that one should only seek medical assistance when absolutely necessary.

I remember once, when I was about six or so, a trip to the river ended with a six-inch gash on the bottom of my foot. There was no hospital trip for me either. The day ended with a bottle of rubbing alcohol, some steri-strips and four foot of gauze. I can remember my daddy holding my foot over the tailgate of the truck as my grandmother poured alcohol over my foot – twice, just to make sure it was clean. Looking at the scar now, I would have had my child in the ER in no time flat, and we would’ve come home with 12 stitches.

It’s been nearly years since she passed away from cancer, but her impact on my life is daily.

Once, she told me a story about late night rush to the hospital so that she could assist in emergency surgery. She didn’t make it. She said the fog parted just in time for her to crash into a bull – an honest to goodness bovine. It was like hitting a brick wall, she said. In that, I discovered a love of story telling.

Another time, she took me to the ballet. I was about eight. We went to see the Nutcracker performed by Maryanne Murphy’s Andalusia Academy of Ballet (Maryanne comes to the Y to teach classes here on Wednesdays). I got my finger slammed in one of the bathroom stalls. I remember every time I take my girls to the shows the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Dixon Theater. In that, she taught me the value of a memory, that little things can have the biggest impact.

And it’s of her I thought of Tuesday as the storms rolled through. It was a day made for reading, she would say, and I would have to agree.

And it’s her I think of every day as I hope that I am making a lasting impression on my children with my little things. Even if I can’t the laundry to smell just right like she did.