Jay Edge: Grandmother Ate Cornbread From a Glass of Milk (memoir)

Southern Legitimacy Statement:  My name is Jay Edge and I’ve been drawing & writing ever since I remember. The thing I remember most as a kid in the NC piedmont was roaming the woods behind my grandparent’s home. I’d sew a sheath for my rusty machete and head out the back door. My days were spent looking for snakes on red clay riverbanks, pushing through bamboo thickets to swingable vines, jumping bank to bank across creeks, and to be gladly lost beneath the gradations of light towards night.

I’ve skateboarded packed mud on several occasions and I’m no stranger to home-cooked foods piled upon paper plates. I run distance across mountain trails and my writing resembles the rhythms of my runs. I’ve not changed a whole lot since I was a mud-caked kid.

Grandmother Ate Cornbread From a Glass of Milk

My grandmother ate thick bites of warm cornbread from a tall glass of buttermilk. She ate the savory stew with a long silver spoon. She ate in ways that were ascetic but sad.

On Sundays, as predictable as the greetings at McGill Baptist, we would have our family meal. The spread would fill our large round table, a grand feast each week.  We sat in correct posture, facing one other, beside one another, whether 5 or 9, holding hands and casting Grace.  Then the meal would commence, the chatter.

Grandmother chirped bird-like bites. She chose to eat from delicate coffee saucers, maybe porcelain. Fastidious.

She would enjoy a small helping of soft vegetables, a fried chicken leg, a spoonful of mashed potatoes with gravy.  She ate quiet and defensive.

Her plates got smaller as her frame began to thin. We watched her slightness become frailty.

My grandmother ate in ways that were ascetic and sad. She slept little, would roam the house all night, would snack and pace quiet. She did not sleep much. She found a grace when the house was still and asleep.

My grandmother ate in ways that were ascetic and sad.

We all watched her. We all watched her in different ways.