Today’s post is a little different. It was inspired by two people, The Urban Cowboy, who writes beautiflul posts often that make me think, jealous, and want to write more. Debbie a friend and collegue at school, who is a runner and has recently won several events in her “age” class, also inspired me. She’s an amazing woman, and this is her story as told to and interpreted by me. A little bit fiction, a little bit fact!
I always knew I was fast. Everyday each summer in Sandersville, Georgia, Mother would wake the five of us and have breakfast on the table. My brothers were usually slow to get to the there, but I had places to go, things to find, and Grandma a mile up the dirt road. The morning sun was already beating on the red Georgia clay when I darted out the door. Grandma never came to see us. I went to her. No, I ran to her.
Like I said, I knew I was fast. Faster than any other girl in the sleepy, nearly dead village we called a town. And faster than all the boys my age. Faster than some who were older. I eventually became faster than my brothers. Mother said it wasn’t lady like. That Lady like thing was very important to her and the rest of the women in Sandersville. Ladylike behavior didn’t include much of what I wanted to do. Climb, play, fish, fight, and run. I had to run.
I ran to Grandma’s up the road. It was the quickest mile of the day. I ran home too, Mother was always calling up there on the party line to let Grandma know it was time for me to come home. I ran to Grandma’s, I ran home, I ran everywhere. There was no reason to walk. Things waited for me. I had to be somewhere, usually somewhere else. I was running, and I didn’t know why.
We rode the bus to school. I would have run there too, but Mama wouldn’t let me. Too far, too much danger, too many unknowns. Mama worried. My brothers, all four of them , had girls to talk to on the bus and at school. They had a reason to ride. I had a reason to run. I ran off the bus, ran into the school, ran into class. I hated sitting still. I wanted to run.
But, it was summer, and there was no school. No bus, no girls for the brothers to talk to. There was Grandma. I ran to her every day. She would always greet me with a smile and a scolding.
“Slow down.” She’d say in her sweet, South Georgia drawl.
“Where’s the fire?” “What’s the rush?” “It’s just me here.”
And she was enough. Grandma was what I would later realize was typical. Typical southern, typical woman born in the early part of the 20th Century. Typical depression era girl who never wasted anything and never found a reason to throw something out if it could be used again. Her kitchen curtains were once bed sheets, her throw pillows old shirts and dresses she had worn until she couldn’t stand them any more. But she couldn’t throw them out.
She was typical in that she always said, “Ladies don’t run.”
I wanted to run, and I wasn’t interested in being a lady.
Through high school and college, Grandma never missed a track meet. She hated the bleachers, hated the sun, hated the hot Georgia Springtime heat, but she never missed a chance to see me run. Secretly, I think she approved. She was proud of me, but she wished in her heart that I would do things that were more ladylike. I really hated that term. And Grandma loved me even if I wasn’t ladylike. I knew that.
I ran to her house every day. Mama would yell, “Get in here” as soon as I got off the bus, but I ran to Grandma’s first.
One spring day as I came home from college, Mama didn’t yell. She was waiting on me.
“Grandma’s gone.” She said, and I knew what she meant.
I never ran to Grandma’s again, but I had a new reason to run. I knew she was still watching.