When I was a little girl (eight years old and younger), one of my best memories was visiting my grandmother’s childhood home in Ft Smith, Arkansas. My grandmother, our “Mimi”, grew up on a farm in Oklahoma. Her family moved to the big city of Ft Smith, Arkansas, when she was a teenager.
My family lived in Dallas when I was little and one would think that nothing could be more oppressive than the heat and humidity of a hot summer Texas night. But they had never been to Ft Smith, Arkansas.
I remember stepping out of the old claw foot bathtub in the Ft Smith house and never being dry for the rest of the day. Before you could dry off, the humidity had wrapped its arms around you and you were “damp” for the remainder of the day. “Damp” is a lady-like term for “sweating” where I grew up.
The “Sleeping Porch” was a screened in porch that wrapped around a quarter of the upper story of the family home in Ft Smith. In the “Sleeping Porch” of nothing but beds…the old-fashioned beds with lumpy mattresses and iron headboards. With cotton sheets and pillow cases that smelled like they had been freshly laundered and ironed. Some of the pillow cases had been hand embroidered by my grandmother and her sisters.
My sisters, cousins and I would climb through the “window” that led to the “Sleeping Porch” and the fun would begin. Pillow fights, arguing about who slept with whom, great aunts laughter … I can hear it now like it was yesterday.
As we “settled” for the night, the screened in porch allowed for the sweet, cool summer air to overtake us. We listened to the crickets and other “bugs”, looked at the moon and the stars and told stories until, one by one, we fell asleep.
Inevitably, when we awoke, the great aunts and my grandmother were already awake and gone, making us wonder what we had missed! We would bound down the back stairs to a breakfast of whatever we wanted…yes, the great aunts would make whatever we wanted and laugh the entire time. The loved us well and unabashedly.
I wish I had told this story before I lost my lovely Aunt Carollyn earlier this year. I am glad I am telling it while my sweet Mother is here.