~In memory of Goldie Toler~
by Alyson Toler Dolan
I loved to go to my grandmother’s house. Her home was so inviting that my friends loved to go too. “Mumu,” as we affectionately called her, had a small, round, white, wrought iron table and chairs in the kitchen -- the kind of furniture you see in an old time ice cream parlor. She would carry the little table and chairs out into the yard and place them beside the huge berry bush in her yard. We were going to have a “tea party.” She prepared little china bowls of goldfish crackers and glasses of ice cold “co-cola,” as she called it. So we had our tea party beside the bush in the warm sunshine and felt so grown up.
My sisters and I also got to play “dress up” in Aunt Mary Street’s fancy high school prom dresses. Mumu kept several of them hanging in her hall closet and helped us try them on, one by one. Then she let us raid her own closet to find matching high heel pumps. We went clompping around for hours on the hard floors in our high heels and pretty dresses.
Mumu’s back yard was enchanting for young, imaginative minds. This was a large yard with part of it bordering a woodsy area and the other part bordering a ditch bank and the Delta State University golf course. We went exploring in the little wooded area, which to a small child seemed like the vast expanse of woods that Hansel and Gretel wandered into, or where Goldilocks may have found the three bears’ cottage, or where Snow White may have been hiding from her evil stepmother. These woods were a land of enchantment.
Mumu would check the golf course for golfers and, if it were clear, we’d run out onto the green and turn cartwheels and flips or just lie on the bright, soft green golf course grass, looking up at the sky without a care in the world.
My grandmother spoiled us wonderfully by taking us to Baskin-Robbins or fixing us ice cream and cookies for our tea parties. Her kitchen always smelled of delicious things to eat. She was well known at First Baptist Church for her exceptional tossed salad with homemade dressing, which is among many recipes my family and I continue to enjoy today. As we grandkids ate her great cooking and grew, she would measure us and proudly mark our height on the back of her pantry door.
As I grew up, I observed her quiet pursuit of the Christian faith, and her religious habits spoke to me. I often spent the night with her, and every evening, just like clockwork, she read her Bible and the Daily Bread devotion book. Once I was old enough to read, she would offer it to me to read when she finished. As an adult, I have chosen Jesus as my Savior and Lord, which is what she hoped for all of her family. Mumu’s steady faith was evident as she never worried about anything, but just always trusted that no matter what happened God would take care of things somehow.
I am reminded of the childhood song that says, “Over the meadow and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go,” and though I can’t recall the rest of the words, the song conjures up images of going to a special place, made that way by a special person, and that is the lasting impression I have of going to my grandmother’s house, where I always felt special and loved.
Mumu went home to be with the Lord this morning. She lived a long, wonderful life, and when we visited her just a couple weeks ago she seemed very tired and ready to be HOME. Part of me wishes she had lived a little longer so she could have met my little girl, who was born this summer.
But Heaven isn’t too long to wait. Maybe Mumu will have a tea party waiting for my daughter someday when she gets to Heaven.
Writer bio: Alyson Toler Dolan resides in Princeton, West Virginia, with her husband Jamie, parents Dr. and Mrs. Mert Toler, Jr., brother Timothy Toler, sisters Angie Toler Shorter and Amanda Toler Watson and their families.
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