When my sister, Casey, was in college, she called home, “Granny, I’m trying to make this but I just can’t get it to taste like yours.” There isn’t a single one of us who didn’t make a phone call (countless times) to Granny to try and figure out how to make it just right. Because just right was always how Granny made things. “You have to taste of it as you’re making it and add to it as you go,” she responded to my sisters cooking skills. “I have, Granny, and I still can’t get it to taste like yours.” (I mean, who can?) And with all of my Granny’s wisdom she responded, “Well, just add a little butter to it!”
I’ve decided that is the perfect tagline to my Granny Head’s life. “Just add a little butter to it!”
Isn’t that what she did to all of us? Literally. Added some butter to our hips. When my cousin, Chris, would walk into her house she would tell him, “Come on in here, Chris, and let me feed you, you’re too skinny.” Side note: I never heard her say those exact words to me.
My cousin David put it best when he said, “Granny was the best cook. I may never eat dressing or red velvet cake again.” Same here.
So many of our memories evolve around food, but it wasn’t the food that left the greatest impact (although my jeans may disagree), it was the moments around the food. Every one of my aunts, as well as my mom, would tell you the same thing. Granny taught them how to cook, can, freeze, season and how to eye ball it so you knew it was ready. And in those moments she taught them how to care for others, what a good wife looked like, how to parent in an impactful way and balance the complexities of life. She knew exactly how to add a little butter to them.
As I collected stories to prepare for speaking at her funeral, there were common themes among all of us. Each of her grandchildren said the same things about her. She was so consistent. So steady.
Isn’t that what butter does? Throw some powdered sugar, a splash of milk, some cocoa, and a dab of vanilla in a bowl, and they’re just ingredients that will hardly mix. But add some butter to them and out comes the kind of icing that’ll make you drool. Butter changes the consistency and brings it all together. Just like my Granny.
Through our high school years, all three of us granddaughters would spend Saturdays at the Dry Cleaners with her. It was just our time with her and we can each tell you about getting biscuits from Hardees for breakfast or milkshakes from Stratton’s close to lunch.
We all sat at her kitchen table and rolled coins from the laundromat.
The grandsons learned how to play a mean hand of cards from her. And don’t let that sweet smile of hers fool you, she didn’t let anyone beat her at cards or Chinese checkers. They can each still hear her laughing when she’d win…again.
We all talked about how she drove like Mario Andretti on his best day. I will never forget Grandaddy taking me home one day after I had spent the night. We were driving up the big hill on Gossett road and I thought, if we go any slower, we are going to start rolling backwards down this thing. Why didn’t Granny take me, I would’ve been home 30 minutes ago.
She was the hardest worker around. You better believe we all noted that!
But here’s the real icing on the cake, out of all of her grandchildren, not a single one of us had ever seen her angry. We all witnessed her walk through some hard, sad, tough, no-one- would’ve-blamed-her-for-raising-a-fist times. But she never did.
Her kids could count on one finger when they saw her mad. Uncle Charles had been sending all his money home from Vietnam and had asked Granny to save it for him. When he arrived back home, all he wanted was a fast car. My Grandaddy tried to put his size 13 shoe down, “Charles isn’t getting a fast car, he’ll kill himself.” She looked up and told him, “Charles survived that war and if he wants a fast car, he can get a fast car.” Next thing you know, Uncle Charles was cruising around in that car!
When the people closest to you for your entire life can only recall seeing you angry one time, what an amazing testimony. How’s that for consistency?
When my Uncle Tommy was six years old, he and Granny were at the barn. She was inside milking cows while he was playing outside. They had this rooster. Meanest rooster you’ve ever seen, or at least it was to Uncle Tommy. That old thing got him down and was flogging him. Tommy was screaming and didn’t know if he would make it out alive. But here came Granny. She shot out of that barn and before Tommy knew it, she grabbed that rooster and wrung its neck. Then she started plucking it, took it home and fried it for supper. That rooster found out what it was like for Granny to add a little butter to it.
Aunt Debbie married Uncle Kenneth and they spent 5 days of wedded bliss in Las Vegas, came home and Kenneth sat his suitcase down then picked up his golf clubs. It would feel like years before she ever saw him again, but here came Granny. She helped Deb wallpaper the house and invited her to go to the garden, Nashville, or wherever Granny was headed. “She wasn’t just my mother-in-law, she was my friend. She made you feel special just the way she lit up when you walked in the room,” Deb said, and I know we all echo her. Granny just added so much richness to our lives. Butter.
But here’s my favorite Granny story, proving just how rich she was…
When Granny had my mom, she was paralyzed from the waste down and told she would never walk again. So, every morning my Grandaddy would pick her up and take her to a rocking chair, which sat on a rug that he would pull from room to room. My Grandaddy’s mom, Lucy, would come over and help do whatever needed to be done and then some. Lucy was devout. She would talk about Jesus and pray while she worked. One day she decided to lay hands on Granny while she was praying and when she did, my little Granny stood up and walked! That was the last morning my Grandaddy had to pull her anywhere on a rug. Rich in faith!
James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” If that doesn’t describe my Granny’s life, then I don’t know what does!
She didn’t just sit in a red cushioned pew every Sunday and listen. She spent her life doing. Lord, you want a servant? Granny had that covered. Want someone joyful, Lord? Granny’s Your girl. Want a giver? She’d give it her all. Want us to walk an extra mile? Granny would. Lord, didn’t you say to be loving, compassionate, kind and slow to anger? Granny didn’t just hear those words, she did them.
So, as we go through life, let’s take some wise advice. Let’s taste of life, and add to it as we go. And when we can’t figure out what is missing, just remember to… add a little butter to it.
Whether it’s in the meal we are making or adding consistency to the lives of those around us. Teaching them to work hard, love well and that they can count on us. Add some richness to their lives. With faith being the flavor that tops them all.
Because there’s no such thing, as too much butter!
My Granny, Hazel Albright Head, ran straight to the arms of Jesus the morning of Jan. 23, 2019. These were my speaking notes as I looked out over an overflowing sanctuary and attempted to tell about one of the greatest, most impactful women ever knitted together. The way she is looking at that chubby baby of mine above, is the way she looked at all of us. And we all smiled back, with that same look of awe and wonder.