As I write this, my heart is still breaking.
A couple of weeks ago, I lost both my grandma and my grandpa within 4 days of each other. They had been married for 65 years. He passed at 84 years old and she passed on her 85th birthday.
I wanted to spend a few minutes remembering the kind and humble people who were Marvin and Mary Frances Riddle.
When I was a child, my other siblings and I spent many a day and night over at Grandma and Grandpa’s little house in the country in Osage County, Oklahoma. It always felt like it took for.ev.er to get there as a child, but it was really only about a 25 minute drive from Tulsa. They lived on several acres of land and enjoyed growing crops and raising cattle. After serving in the Korean War, Grandpa came back home to make his living working at Rainbow Bread Company while Grandma was a homemaker.
Grandpa had so many gory war stories and oh, how he loved to tell them. More importantly was oh, how I loved to hear them! Despite constant chiding from my grandma, his favorite place to tell them was always right at the supper table. He loved to tell stories in general, always had a joke up his sleeve and was one of the few people in this world who could actually get away with laughing at his own jokes. I can’t recall a single time where he wasn’t smiling or when he complained about anything. He was fun-loving, easy-going, yet so very hard-working.
One of my fondest memories was when Grandpa would bring home these tiny, individual sized loaves of bread from work (Rainbow Bread Company) just for us. They were the most luscious, delicious, soft white bread I had ever tasted. (We grew up in a family that typically didn’t eat white bread.) There was just something extra special about the fact that he had thought enough about me and my siblings to bring us such a delicious treat. I savored every bite.
One of my sister’s favorite memories was when Grandpa had taken us kids fishing and had specifically warned us beforehand not to hook a turtle. She promised him that she wouldn’t, but not 2 minutes later, she had hooked a turtle. She turned around to face him, thinking he would be angry with her. But instead, his eyes were filled with love and forgiveness as he just cut the line and tied on a new hook. My sister-in-law remembers back when she was merely dating my brother, Grandma and Grandpa held a bonfire and hay ride at their house, how much fun that experience was and how kind and welcoming they were to her. Grandpa loved to be able to do hay rides to show off his tractor and Grandma loved cooking for guests.
Neither Grandma nor Grandpa were afraid of hard work. Grandpa would work all day away from home and would come home and work outside or in their garden or tending their cattle. Grandma would work hard tending the garden, cooking, cleaning. Their house, be it ever so small, was always spick and span. I spent many a childhood hot summer days on their front porch shucking corn and snapping green beans straight from their garden, picking blackberries next to the cows and sipping on home brewed tea. I also would love to help them pick pecans from the two or three pecan trees they had right there in their front yard, and of course, always had to crack open a few. It was there I learned the value of hard work and to “save my pennies.”
My grandma was an amazing cook. One of the reasons I adored going to her house was because of her cooking, not only cause it was insanely southernly delicious but also because it was clearly made with love. Every time someone in my family had a birthday, she would call us up and take requests for our favorite meal. She then would prepare said requested meal, invite us over and we would feast until we could feast no longer. She would always serve raw onions with supper and although I never saw her eating her own veggies she would always take a big helping of dessert (which is one of the many reasons I loved this woman.) Among her specialties, all completely from scratch, were smothered steak, fried chicken, meatloaf, fried okra, squash pie, apple pie, and chicken pot pie.
Oh, the chicken pot pie! I still have dreams about it. My mouth still waters every time I think about it. It was — and always will be — the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. A few years ago, I asked for her recipe to the Chicken Pot Pie that I loved so dearly. Mind you, she was about 80 years old at the time. She didn’t know it from memory and had never used a recipe for it. But instead of letting that keep her from sharing it with me, she took the time to make it once more just so that she could write it down for me. That’s just the type of person she was.
Grandpa was such a great legend in my mind, and a role model to boot. He seemed larger than life and I always looked up to him so much, as a man of honor, integrity and someone who was morally sound. He was fearless! I remember one time he caught a bumble bee with his bare hands, threw it on the ground and stomped on it — a pretty bold move for someone who was allergic to bumble bees. But that’s just the type of person he was.
I know it has been said that you can’t live a life of regrets but I do have regrets. I regret not spending more time with Grandma in the kitchen, learning her recipes and how she always managed to prepare every meal with love. I regret not taking the time to write down more of Grandpa’s war stories and the jokes he always had so readily available. I regret not spending more time with them both as an adult, being so busy with my own life and wrapped up in my own family. There was no funeral or service held for either Grandma or Grandpa upon their passing, so I wanted to turn my own regrets into a post of being able to honor them just one last time.
They were loving people who had a wonderful life together and although I know they are celebrating together in heaven, it doesn’t stop me from missing them dearly. I long for one more taste of the world’s best chicken pot pie, made with love from my grandma’s sweet hands. I long for one more big bear hug from my grandpa and to hear just one more of his stories.
You are gone but never forgotten. Rest peacefully, my dearest Grandma and Grandpa, until I see you again someday.