Pigs feet and Wings: Graveside Reflections on the Life of Margaret Morrison
I’m honored that Janice and Frank asked me to say some nice things about Margaret Morrison. When Janice asked me, I thought about how difficult it would be to say anything nice, to say anything at all, about Mrs. Morrison at a time when I, like many of you, grieve the passing of this wonderful lady. It is difficult to control the emotions when speaking of one who loved us all, so deeply, for so long.
When Tia and I moved to Spartanburg ten years ago, the first person we meet was Janice Wilkins. Like her mother, the gracious hostess, Janice welcomed us and made us feel at home. Our children were about the same ages as Terrill, William, and Stephen, and our families spent a lot of time together. Margaret Morrison became Granny Margaret to us. We never met her husband of 43 years, but we can easily imagine the loving care that Granny Margaret lavished on him especially for the last seven years of his life when his health failed. She endured trials of her own. She was a breast cancer survivor.
And she was a notorious cook and a snazzy dresser long before we knew her. Her fried chicken is legendary, and though Janice has tried repeatedly to duplicate her mother’s special recipe, she admits coming up short. Granny Margaret loved cooking for people, and Frank knows this so well. Granny Margaret always wanted to feed Frank, and at every opportunity offered to fix him some grits for breakfast. She introduced me and my family to pig’s feet. She really didn’t have to do that! Really, she didn’t have to do that! Tia and I joked with Granny Margaret that those pig’s feet couldn’t be good for her weak intestines. But you know Granny Margaret had a little stubborn streak, oh yes. She enjoyed the finer things in life… nice shoes, a snazzy purse, a hat with some flair, and pig’s feet!
And music! All types of music. Granny Margaret loved music. She has a huge record collection. Never played an instrument, never performed. But don’t we all remember her sitting in her chair, humming along, bobbing her head, closing her eyes and really savoring the music. College students might take a course in music appreciation but they rarely appreciate music the way Granny Margaret did. Even better, Granny Margaret blessed us with her talented daughter whose heavenly voice we all know and love. Don’t you know the joy and pride Granny felt every time Janice performed? And isn’t a good thing that Janice has such a strong, pure, loud voice, because Granny Margaret’s hearing declined to the point that she really could have benefited from a hearing aid. She was hard-of hearing, but she was even more hard-headed, and wouldn’t even consider trying a hearing aid.
Yes, Granny Margaret was so proud of her daughter, and with good reason. She was also proud of her three fine grandsons, gentlemen, every one. How fortunate they are to have a grandmother who loved them so much, and was there for them everyday, every day. What pleasure she had seeing her boys grow big and strong, so smart, and so polite. No Grandma ever loved her grandsons anymore than she loved hers.
And, Frank, you know you are one lucky man. Gentlemen, how many of us would consider ourselves lucky to have our mother-in-law live with us? Frank’s mother-in-law, without a doubt, adored Frank. I’ve heard Granny Margaret get sentimental at the supper table and sing the praises, loud and long, of her son-in-law, and just flat out tell him that she loved him. She was not putting on a show. She said it and she meant it. She wasn’t shy about saying nice things to people.
She was always asking about our children and complementing them. “Your girls are so pretty, and Phillip is such a handsome boy. And they’re all so smart and well-mannered. You have a such a lovely family.” Didn’t she ask you about your family? Didn’t she make you feel good? Didn’t she really care? She was always concerned about others. She met my father-in-law once. Once! He’s quite a character whose health is failing, and Granny Margaret always, always asked Tia “How’s your father doing?” That’s just indicative of her genuine caring character, of her generous personality.
Granny Margaret knew how to be a lady. A woman with class. We all recall how she’d dress up for any occasion. Heels, hose, and nice handbag. And a hat! A sharp hat with some pizzazz!
Always the gracious hostess. Making people feel welcome and comfortable, and appreciated. Well, almost everybody. Janice told me a few weeks ago that when several people were visiting Granny Margaret in the hospital, Granny Margaret dismissed the nurse, saying “You’ll just have to come back later, young man. I have guests.”
Speaking of treating guests well…. Once when Granny Margaret arrived at our house for some celebration, she came in through the back door. I told her that everybody was in the living room already, but we didn’t allow “riff raff” in our living room so she’d have to sit in the den. Thank goodness, she had a wonderful sense of humor. She thought that was hilarious and she laughed that distinctive laugh which I so love to hear. From then on, I called her “Riff Raff” and she’d laugh and let me get away with it. I let her sit in my living room.
Granny Margaret became a Catholic late in life and her faith was strong. She regularly attended Mass and regularly disrupted it by distributing peppermints to those around her.
The last time I saw Granny Margaret was in the recovery room right after her endoscopy. She was awake and alert, sharp as could be, and I could tell by how tightly she held on to my finger that she was glad to see me. I complemented her on her “Don King” hairdo as she lay there in the hospital bed. Her hair was sticking straight up like a flame, which was uncharacteristic since I’d always seen her so well “put together.” The results of the endoscopy were inconclusive, so the doctors had decided to send her right away for more tests. She didn’t want any more tests. She wanted something to eat! I reminded her that eating certain things like pig’s feet could account for why she was in the condition she was in. And then she surprised me when she said “ I’m ready to go meet my Lord and get my wings.” Janice and I assured her that we weren’t ready for her to meet her Lord and get her wings! I don’t know that we’re ready now, but it has already happened. Granny Margaret has met her Lord. She’s got her wings. Heaven has a new saint with excellent hearing and a hearty appetite. Janice, Frank, Terrill, William, Stephen, and all of us: Let us rejoice and be glad.
GR Davis Jr
11 October 2003