Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pretty is as Pretty Does

My father’s family, my aunts, uncles and cousins, have always made me feel loved.  Many of my favorite—and not so favorite—memories were made when I was with them.  When I was in the first grade, the U.S. Air Force sent my dad to England for six months.  Because my mother, who was from England, had not learned to drive and had no family in this country, she and my dad decided it would be best for her, my younger sister, and me to stay with my paternal grandmother in North Carolina until he returned.   

My grandmother’s house was my favorite place in the entire world.  She lived in a small house which had only four rooms.  Three of the rooms served as bedroom-living room combinations, and the fourth was the kitchen. She did not have running water in her house to the day she died; and until I was a teenager, she cooked on a wood stove which meant someone had to bring in wood for it.  Hers was a happy, welcoming house though; and on weekends, there was usually a crowd of relatives visiting her.  Most of the time, it was a fun place for a child to be and for me, it was always home. 

I loved my grandmother dearly, and she taught me a lot about Jesus, about remembering and practicing the Golden Rule, and about being a good person.  I never doubted that she loved me too, and she would often take up for me when my mother was being especially strict—which was usually the case.  For example, once, when my mother was giving me a hard time about eating a second hot-dog that I had asked for but suddenly felt too full to eat, I felt my grandmother, who was sitting beside me, nudge my leg. When I looked down, I saw her hand turned up signaling for me to give her the hot-dog.  After I had quickly given it to her, she ate that hot-dog without my mother ever knowing what my grandmother had done.  That day she was not only my champion, but she was also my partner in crime!!

I adored my cousins, Pat and Evelyn, and loved to be with them too.  But a girl who lived across the road and down a piece from their house could always manage to annoy me when she came to play.  She liked to brag that she would be a movie star someday and;  maybe I was jealous, but I really didn't like her.  One sunny morning, when I was home from school, my grandmother told me to go over to this girl's house to play. I told my grandmother I didn't want to play with her.  When she asked me why, I shocked her by replying truthfully,  “She’s ugly. She’s too ugly to play with!”
Grandma didn't spank me, but she lectured me about judging others, made me sit in a chair in the yard for what seemed like half a day, and meditate on the thought: "Pretty is as Pretty does." (I still remember the purple verbena and the snapdragons planted near my chair!)  When I finally assured her that I would never, ever, say someone was ugly again, she let me go to play.  

In truth,  knowing I had disappointed my grandmother by showing her I wasn't the girl she expected me to be was worse than having to sit in that chair while the other children were playing.  Sixty two years later I still remember the lesson I learned that day,and I easily recognize those girls who are my grandmother’s kind of girls---the ones who are “pretty is as pretty does.”

1 Samuel 16:8  “Truly, God does not see what man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD sees the heart."

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