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    Posted March 15, 2009 by
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Lessons from grandma

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    My Strength for Survival Today: Lesson's From Grandma Assignment


    My story for survival for today goes back as far as my Great Maternal Grandmother, Grandmaw Eliza Jane Lowe.

    She was born in 1871 in the foot hills of the Smokey Mountains.

    She and my Grandpaw ( who died before I was born) were farmers, raised their own vegetables, fruit and nuts.

    They  slaughtered their  own meat, fished and hunted for the rest.They drank fresh cow and goats milk from their own stock.

    Together great Grandmaw and Grandpaw raised six children, three boys and three girls, one of which was my mother's mother.

    Grandmaw was a Bee Keeper and called a "Charmer "in her day.

    She could gather honey without a sting.

    Grandmaw Lowe was also an herbalist and gathered wild flowers to make her potions and medicines for the family and neighbors. She knew verses from  the Bible to stop blood and the burn of fire. She told the ways and teachings of her Cherokee ancestry.

    I have wonderful vivid memories of going to what my family referred to as the "old home place" nestled in the shadows of  those smokey blue mountains.

    There was no electricity, or running water even in the 50's.

    The water came from a deep, ice cold artesian well. At dusk coal oil lamps were lit.

    I will never forget the taste of that icy cold water, or the snake and "haint" tales told by the flickering glow of the lamps.

    Grandmaw Lowe would visit us in the city for two or three of weeks at a time.

    On one such visit she was going to the front door, with me on her hip ,she caught her foot on a rug and fell, breaking her hip.

    In those days, not much could be done for the type of injury  that she had.

    Most often the older patient was bed ridden and wheel chair bound.

    This was the case with my Great Grandmaw.

    She was city bound and destined to live with my grandmother, my mother,  my older brother and me.

    I know how badly she wanted to be back in the mountains. I would sit for hours at her bedside. She told me stories of growing up in the mountains, playing in the creeks and streams.

    Tales of how she would gather bits of broken pottery and make pretend play cookware and dishes.

    She told me how her mother taught her to recognize wildflowers, roots and herbs that would be useful in her life. she taught me from her bedside, how to make cornbread in an iron skillet, how to make jelly and jam, how to braid my hair,  how to milk a cow..how not to waste anything., everything was a precious commodity.


    On nice days we would go outside, she in her wheel chair.  and me on a blanket, together we would watch the clouds. She would name them all, a bird, a whale, a dragon, a flower..

    When I was old enough to start school, I could not wait to get home to see her. She had the time

    to listen to my stories and little girl dreams.

    Years passed all to quickly. In 1963 my Great Grandmaw passed away. I was eleven years old, she was ninety-two. I was heart broken...


    Grandmaw Lowe taught me so many things that I use in my life today. She taught the love and respect for earth,nature, animals, plants and all life. She gave me a deep and understanding love for God , family and my country.


    Now, I never became a Bee Charmer, medicine woman, or farmer, but I do garden, know my wildflowers and herbs.

    I tell some great "haint tales" that stand my grandchildren's hair on end. I tend to many "critters" with great care and respect.


    When  Great Grandmaw Lowe passed on, my Grandmother had to fill her shoes, passing down the love, stories,  teachings and legacy, to all of her grandchildren. Now that she is gone, my mother continues on.

    I pass down the stories of our rich mountain heritage to my six grandchildren.

    They can only imagine it...

    I am so thankful I shared it and lived it.

    I will carry these things in my heart until the end of my days and know I am richer and stronger for it.

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