A Grandmother’s Wisdom

I am reading “Whiskey In A Teacup” by Reese Witherspoon. It is a beautiful book filled with all the things she learned growing up in the south…Tennessee to be exact. Most of the lessons she shares she learned from her grandmother, an old school southern lady who imparted wisdom from a way of life slowly fading from sight.

Unfortunately I did not grow up with a grandmother in my life. They both lived very far away and there was no real connection to them except through my parents. It was a different time and communication was not what it is today. My dad’s mom died from tuberculosis when he was an infant and his step-mother and he were not particularly close though he worked really hard on maintaining some kind of relationship with her despite how he was treated early in life. A true testimony to his character.

My maternal grandmother was a farmer’s wife – no glitz or glamour here. Just a simple hardworking woman who raised a family, worked alongside her husband in the same Kentucky where town she was born and raised. Willie Brooks Woodring will show up in many stories and essays in the future. Because, despite not growing up with her, I carry her DNA; she lives on through me and I carry this it forward with pride.

Tom and Willie Brooks Woodring, with Sheryl Perkins, Clay, Kentucky, circa 1960

Dorothea’s Life Lessons

The book is broken down into categories but most relates to how a lady is to conduct herself, home and entertaining. I will definitely be trying some of her recipes and the biscuit making tips will be put into practice this weekend. But the part I loved the most were the lessons on clothes, hair and makeup.

In many ways Dorothea reminds me of my mother-in-law, Bernice Means. Bernice was born in Laurel, Mississippi and always had a small bit of southern wisdom to share with anyone who would listen. She was one of the funniest people I know and I hear her voice in my life and my writing on a regular basis. Oh, how I miss her.

Hot Rollers, Red Lipstick and Steel Magnolias

After reading Chapter 3 I decided I need to start doing a better job of presenting my best face to the world. I have gotten lazy and stopped wearing much makeup (in all fairness it seems I have become allergic to most mascara) and followed the crowd by extending casual Friday to casual everyday. I can do better.

When the book was first released, social media was ablaze with women trying her hot roller tips. I’d love to try it, but I don’t have enough hair…yet. But what I can do is wear lipstick. I never gave up foundation and blush. Lipstick became lip balm thus my face with just all the same color. No more!

Many years ago I bought a tube of Chanel lipstick at Neiman Marcus. At that time, spending $25 on a tube of lipstick seemed scandalous. I was on a girl’s day out shopping trip and this was a present to me. I think I have only used it a handful of times. Full face makeup and red lipstick always seemed so garish. The lipstick is still creamy, soft and definitely red. I have found my new look. Soft simple makeup for my face, and Chanel Passion Red lipstick.

As a grandmother who loves to pass on life lessons, I splurged and bought my oldest (15) girl her first tube of Chanel lipstick. She discovered Chanel No5, Coco Chanel, and Marilyn Monroe last year and has become obsessed with all things Chanel. For her, a lovely shade of pink called Boy, beautifully wrapped will no doubt be a hit on Christmas morning. I know she will cherish it and always remember one of her Mimi’s life lessons:

Buy quality. Buy classic. Buy less.

Until tomorrow…