A Place for All Women

Poor in the Eyes of the World

             Black coal burning in a cast iron stove sent a smell drifting out the door and up the road.  As the wind blew it in my direction, I tilted my head back, closed my eyes and took in a deep breath.  One solitary smell transported me back 40 years.  But here I was sitting on my own front porch swing where the memory of my grandmother and grandfather is always present. 

            We called them Mamaw and Papaw.

            They were some of the poorest people I have ever known, yet some of the richest.

            There was a feeling in their house that no one was more important than you.  Mamaw was always grinning, always kidding around and always cooking.  You could show up anytime day or night and find a saucer full of sausage and biscuits, wrapped up in re-used tin foil in the center of the kitchen table, ready for the taking.  Papaw was always busy mowing the lawn in the summer or bringing in coal for the stove in the winter.  When I was really young, they didn’t have running water or electric heat, so Papaw climbed out of bed, in what I thought were unbearable conditions, to build the day’s first fire.  He went outside with frost on the ground and drew ice-cold water up from the well in a shiny silver bucket.  On hot summer days, he would draw up a bucket and hand us the metal dipper to take the first cool drink.  If I was really careful, he would let me lean over the side and look down into the deep dark well.  I felt safe knowing he was right there holding me.

            Their life in the country was so different from ours in the city that I found myself completely captivated.  My parents had more of the things money could buy, but without much money, my grandparents had everything they needed.  Hard work took precedence over romance, yet I never knew two people more in love.  The foundation of our family’s faith came through their lineage yet they never harped or hammered on all things holy. Rather than require we follow a lot of rules, they just wanted us to love each other and share a mutual respect.

            They were just our Mamaw and Papaw. 

            She liked pretty dresses and shiny brooches.  He was happy in bib overalls and an old dirty cap.  They were kind, gentle and giving.  While others often talked of what they would do with large sums of money, my grandparents gave from what little they had gathered     

            At the end of every day, when we were filled with all the food you could possibly eat, we would go out to the front porch swing.  We would talk, laugh, and listen to my three uncles play their guitars.             

            And as the day turned into night, when the air became cool and crisp, black coal burning in their cast iron stove would send a smell drifting out the door and up the road. 


James 2:5 (NIV)

“Listen my dear brothers and sisters:

Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world

to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those

who love him?”


Are there simple pleasures in your life?

What do you want people to remember about you?

Comments on: "Poor in the Eyes of the World" (4)

  1. Love this story! The wonderful memories it brings back.

  2. Theresa Bakken said:

    So true Annette that memories are tinged with more than color… we can smell our past. sometimes i can taste mine. Who are we really – but a collection of scented, tasty memories?? cotton candy, campfire, horse dung, pumpkin pie, pine trees, ocean breeze… thank you for reminding me that my treasured memories don’t have big price tags. What will my kids remember? What smells can I gift them with this summer?! i don’t know what a coal burning stove smells like – or what water from a tin bucket brought up from a deep well would feel like on my lips… but your story brought me closer to knowing.. and closer to you. Thank you friend.

    • Theresa: I frequently say my husband is the best writer I have ever known. You are the female version. I miss reading your words and I miss you! What a blessing you have been to your children. I hope they know what a wonderful sacrifice you made for them. 🙂 Love ya girl!

  3. Annette, as always I am left touched and soulful by your words. This story brought back memories of my Mamaw and Papaw as well as reminding me that it really is my life’s memories of loving connections and feelings that I cherish most. It’s the quality of time we spend with our loved ones that are the most meaningful things we can give.

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