My Time With You (Pt. 3)

Those of you who read my previous post Revelations of My Ancestors, were briefly introduced to my grandfather John W. Johnson, also known as “Eighty-Six” to those close to him. That post only revealed a specific chapter of his life. I’d like to now share the experience of my time spent with him as well as lessons I learned from him. As a child there were many aspects of my grandfather’s behavior or actions I didn’t understand. Until a certain age, most were only stories, rather complaints I’d overhear from my mother and her siblings. Once I was older I was able to witness some of those behavior’s first hand. I never felt my grandfather wasn’t a friendly person, but I noticed he didn’t care to be in the company of others unless he was attending church. He seemed extremely stingy when it came to food or money and always talked to me about how important it is to get an education.

Between my grandfather and his second wife after the passing of my maternal grandmother, there were roughly eleven kids living in the house with them or at least that’s how many I can account for by name at the moment. Therefore; growing up I’d hear the stories among the siblings about how my grandfather kept locks on the kitchen cabinets and the old rotary phone to stop them from running up the phone bill. He also didn’t believe in spending money on fast food. Even after fleeing the south and settling in the city, he continued to utilize the land to offset cost. He kept chickens for their eggs, planted a garden along with various fruit baring trees in his back yard. I never knew exactly where he’d get them, perhaps they roamed the neighborhood at night, but I hated when he’d ask me to take the baking pan with a cooked opossum across the street to the reverand. There were also stories of his distrust of banks and how he kept his money in an old church suit tucked away in the back of the closet. Going through his belongings after him passing, to my surprise, it was true!

By the time I reached adulthood and had learned more about not only my family history, but history as a whole, it led me to realize much of my grandfather’s behavoir was a direct result of not only his environment but also his experiences along with the struggles of his parents during the “Great Depression”. As many of you are already aware, the “Great Depression” took place between 1929-1933, which means my grandfather was eleven years old by the time it ended. Between the stock market crashing along with the overall economic downturn, I came to the conclusion that it was safe to assume his mindet and actions were a result of the challenges they faced during that time. An extremely harsh reality for poor blacks in the south with little to know education. During my time with grandaddy I learned many lessons mainly by merely observing. One was to never sit behind him with the window down while he’s driving and spittin’ tobacco out da window. The main lesson however, which he constantly expressed, was how vital it is for survival to achieve an education or in his words “stay in schoo’ so you can learn ya self sumthin’ girl”! Fishing was his absolute favorite hobby. I never cared for it much because I didn’t have the patience to sit quietly waiting for the fish to bite. What I did enjoy and still treasure today was the long talke we had during those trips and learning that he wanted me to learn from his trials and recognize the roads that were paved for my generations so that I would prosper in the future. Thanks you grandaddy for all your blood, sweat and tears. I love you!!!

Published by 5thgenerationgirl

Tammy Wynette is a mother of three and a β€œG-MA” (grandma). Born in Warren, Arkansas, she currently resides in Sacramento, CA and is pursuing an AA degree in English at American River College, with plans to transfer to California State University, Sacramento (Sac State). She is an active leader and role model in her community, she works with teens sharing and teaching poetry, as well as providing insight for young parents to prosper. She has certificate from NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) and is a trailblazer & Griot, keeper of stories/traditions passed down from her ancestors. As an Author and motivational speaker it’d be an honor to present at your events to inspire, encourage & let our VOICES be heard! She has short stories and poems published in Our Black Mothers Brave, Bold and Beautiful!

25 thoughts on “My Time With You (Pt. 3)

  1. What A wonderful story. Again your grandfather comes across as a man who did what he needed to do. If I had 11 kids living in the house, I think I would see the need for locking the kitchen cabinets. A single teenager can eat you out of house and home. I can only imagine what 11 kids could do. My two granddaughters never seem to stop eating. As soon as dinner is finished and things are cleaned up, they want a snack. Something that is both exhausting and expensive. 😏

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  2. Your grandfather β€œEighty Six” sounded like a wonderful and wise man shaped by extraordinary hardship.

    Wishing for his loved ones to be educated, to be wise with money and to be thoughtful about life choices are wonderful lessons to impart. True love, I say!

    I had a much older dad who had me when he was 60. He lived through challenging times, including Japan’s invasion of China, and saw some quite horrendous things. I can see now as an adult – and am reminded through your post – how certain world views of his were shaped, regardless of whether I agreed with them or not.

    Thanks for sharing, Tammy!

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    1. You nailed it perfectly, Thank you! Between your dad’s experiences and my grandfather’s my personal goal is simply to be a better person and make better choices, so the next generation like T and my grandson will hopefully have it a bit better. I could hug you right now, lol.

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  3. Tammy,
    Enjoyed reading this SO MUCH. I’m an only child and never knew my extended family growing up. So a house of eleven kids! Wow. I think I got to know your grandfather and you a little better. I guess there’s something to not being quick to judge, and walking a mile in someone’s moccasins: in a sense we’re products of our experience, but strength of character and will and spiritual faith, hope, and love? Those are surely given from above or we’d never have the perseverance of a man like your grandfather.
    pax,
    dora

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  4. He sounds like a great man. Was he an introvert? That might explain is more solitary preference. Plus after being in a house with a wife and 11 children, I can imagine he would have had enough of being around a lot of chatter and activity.

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  5. I enjoyed your post. As a grandfather with an active part in my grandchildren’s lives, it is a pleasing thought to think one of them might one day write a tribute about me as personal and touching as the one you penned.

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    1. Thanks, that means so much. There are many moments lately where I wish I could have that time with him again, so writing is my way of holding on to the memories. I hope I do my two grandson’s just a proudπŸ’Ÿ

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  6. Oh, if only we knew then what we know now, can you imagine the dynamic of how the patterns of behavior we thought as strange, were quite normal during those eras? After researching my mother’s genealogy tree, I could truly understand the distrust most ethnic communities had that impacted their behaviors with people, systems, and intimate relationships. While it seems a little strange to us, we can connect to the flow of the mindsets, and decisions many people had to sadly deal with back then, which became a hard habit to break. A lot of that has spilled over in many lives this day, albeit socialization is a little better. I learned and am still learning to stop and reflect on the types of stresses our fore-parents had to deal with and compare them to our patterns of behavior now.

    What a great reflective piece Ms. Tammy! πŸ’–πŸ₯°πŸ’˜

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      1. Oh indeed, you are a “gift” QT! 🎁 When you understand their plight and learn about their journey, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share their stories, no matter how dysfunctional they may seem at the time. As you noted, move forward skillfully. πŸ‘πŸΌ Thanks for sharing your story girlfriend! πŸ™πŸΌπŸ₯°πŸ™πŸ½

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      2. I believe that you are doing them justice. πŸ™πŸΌ It is our responsibility now, to take up the mantle and leave a path for your seeds to follow! Hold on to that confidence and don’t let anyone try to strip that away from you QT! πŸ€œπŸΌπŸ€›πŸΌ

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      3. Well girlfriend, we may not be blood (at least I don’t think so 😜) but we are still sista’ sisters, kindred spirits that connect when we don’t even realize we need connection. πŸ€— I think we sometimes need each other to make sure we encourage each other so we don’t give up when things tell us to. Forge ahead my queen. Your best is yet to come my dear! 😊πŸ₯‚βœ¨

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  7. All the people I’ve known who lived through the Great Depression became obsessed with money and financial security, hoarded money and possessions, practiced thrift, and knew a lot of economical tricks, even when they had money. My aunt was born in 1928 and still saves old teabags, tears paper towels in half, saves bits of tinfoil, etc. She won’t spend a cent that she doesn’t have to, which has made me angry a few times. One time, we took my father out of the nursing home for the day to spend time with him, and she wouldn’t pay the fee to get into the park so we could have a picnic. She was bitching about the fee ($10.00) to the guy at the park entrance. I got mad at her and yelled at her that I would pay the fee. In spite of my offer, she was going to turn the car around and leave, but I got angry enough that she accepted my offer. We were on Padre Island in Texas and ended up having a wonderful time with my father. That day is one of my best memories of him in his later years. He had Alzheimer’s and died of COVID pneumonia in 2020. My aunt had a great time that day and sheepishly bought me an ice cream cone later. That was her way of apologizing.

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    1. Your aunt sounds much like my mom. I’m glad that you have the memories of that day with him to cherish. I didn’t understand their actions when I was younger, but now I can appreciate it & learn from it. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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