In the early morning of Friday, March 25th, at age 93, my grandmother, Helen McCown Wettermark, passed away. Grandmother was a character. That is what I have heard my entire life. Phrases like "she had a zest for life" and "passion for life long learning" and "social butterfly" were all phrases I overheard by family and friends in the days that followed. I am the oldest granddaughter of twelve grandchildren. And perhaps the most memorable item in our childhood treasury of memories with our grandmother is the goose pictured above. Allow me to explain.
Grandmother received this goose from an anonymous friend or family member. No one to my knowledge, has ever owned up to it but I suspect one of my uncles sent it to her. The story I always heard was that a box with air holes was delivered to her front door, with the note "birds of a feather flock together." Contained inside was a beautiful white goose with leather beak and feet, and a wooden stick up the middle enabling the holder to make it look like an absolutely real live goose. Grandmother immediately took to "goose" and carried it with her everywhere, especially in her car. One summer, when we were young, Grandmother took me and my cousin, Alfred, to a nature camp held at Camp Alpine in Mentone, AL. Alfred and I were trying to remember how old we were when this trip happened and we suspected we were around 8 years old. On the way there, Grandmother was pulled over for speeding, something I remember happening at least one other time when I was in the car with her. As the state trooper approached the car, she turned down NPR, which was the only channel she listened to. Terrified, I watched as grandmother was confronted for her speeding. She pulled the goose out from between the seat and had the goose try to get her out of the speeding ticket. The goose did all the talking and it worked. The state trooper didn't know what to do other than try his best to hide his smile and send us on our way. And that's one of my favorite things about my grandmother. She could always get her way with that zest for life, quick wit, and despite what many considered a bit of madness, she knew was she was doing. And so, "goose" sat right there at the front of the door to welcome guests to the Wettermark house on Tuesday, March 29, 2011, serving as the gracious host for the celebration of the life of Grandmother, or Mama Jel, or Aunt Helen, or Miss Helen. Whatever you called her, she was one heck of a lady.
Grandmother would often pat my knee and and say "you ain't perfect yet..." She's right but I'm glad to know she is made perfect in heaven now.