by Debi Young
I love old-fashioned sayings because they are usually concise and full of common sense. My paternal grandmother always had some country adage for just about any situation. Some weren’t words of wisdom; they were just remarks that made her company fun. I remember that on cloudy days, she would often remark, “Well, if it doesn’t rain today, it’s sure gonna miss a good chance.” I miss her funny sayings. Most of my life, my grandparents lived in Kentucky—too far for many visits. It wasn’t until I was married, and all three daughters were born, that both of my grandmothers came to live with my parents—at the same time! I love the grandparent relationship. I’m so thrilled that my daughters had at least one set of grandparents near them to help balance their lives. I will never, never be able to calculate the benefit of my Mother’s influence on the hearts and minds of my girls.
I have always sought out ladies in our church who could be something of an adopted grandmother to me. Of all the ladies I knew, Mrs. Louise Clifton was the lady who filled that special longing in my heart for the grandmother and granddaughter relationship. She taught me to can pickles, green beans, tomatoes, pickled beets, peach preserves, applesauce, etc. She made me learn from the beginning to the end! I had to go with her and learn how to pick out good ingredients, for “the end product is only as good as the beginning product.” I had to work right along with her, no matter how many times I cut myself with a paring knife, no matter how hot the steam was over the large pots, and no matter how many times I scalded a finger sterilizing jars and lids. I also had to stay and clean up every inch of her kitchen affected by our canning process. No, this adopted grandmother didn’t let me get off easy. I had asked to learn how to can, and learn I did!
One day while we were busy at work on a bushel of apples, I commented to her that there was a young man at the college who had asked me for a date. When she asked me about him, I proceeded to tell her that I really did not know much about him. I did share what I knew. I then went on to tell her about some other young men at the college that I had noticed also. I remember that she looked up at me and said, “Debi, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush! You date this young man and give him a chance. He just might be a keeper.”
Twenty-two years later, I can see he is a keeper! That young man is my husband, Dr. Ray Young. God bless Mrs. Clifton, my adopted grandmother! Her wit and wisdom on many aspects of life were crucial to my development at that time. I truly needed her common-sense approach to daily living.
Mrs. Clifton was just a “down-home” lady. It is of her that Dr. Hyles often told the story concerning Dr. and Mrs. Russell Anderson’s first visit to First Baptist Church. Mrs. Clifton saw them stand as visitors, and after the service, she welcomed them and invited them to her home for Sunday dinner! She had no idea who Dr. Anderson was. To those of us who knew her, that was not an unusual story. Her home was a welcoming haven for many weary travelers.
Whenever I read an article like this, instead of it encouraging me to reach out and help someone, sometimes I feel as if I am not good enough to reach out to people. See, I believe I know all of my flaws. It is easy to assume that someone like Mrs. Clifton was so good and so wise that, of course, she would be of help to someone. She was a special person, but she was not special because of WHAT she knew. She was special because SHE WAS WILLING TO USE what she knew! Mrs. Clifton was human. She knew her flaws, but she didn’t let them hold her back from teaching a college girl, who became a young wife and mother, how to be a good wife, cook, and housekeeper.
Titus 2:3–5 exhorts, “The aged women…that they be teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” To blaspheme the Word of God is a serious matter. If a young woman can do so by not properly seeing to those things listed in Titus 2:3–5, then it seems to me it’s pretty important for the young ladies to be taught to do them right! Is there something you could be teaching your own granddaughters or some adopted granddaughter? Don’t wait until you think you are “all-wise.” You will never do anything!
Mrs. Clifton has been in Heaven for a many years. I miss her. I will be forever grateful for her gently nudging me toward that “bird-in-the- hand” guy.