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My paternal grandma was the grandest grandma one could imagine.  Having grown up during the depression, she learned how to make the most of everything, how to live without, and how to live within.  She was incredibly crafty and had a surprising number of skills, many of which seem long forgotten amongst the smartphones and self-driving cars of today.  She could make beautiful quilts, plow and sow the fields, wring the necks of chickens, and bake the most American apple pie ever tasted.


She could also make wine.  Now, here in the South, we love our muscadines; and there are more varieties of muscadines than Carter had little liver pills.  While it is a sheer delight to find a wild muscadine along the tree line down in the holler, many country folks cultivate their own vines; and grandma was no exception.  Hers was a light Scuppernong variety; and although the pits could break both tooth and spirit, the juice was sweeter than sugar in a honeycomb.  In high summer, grandma’s kitchen would be absolutely abuzz as she made fresh jams and jellies, sonker, cobbler, preserves… and wine.


Now grandma wasn’t a drinker; and grandpa imbibed only in beer, with the occasional jar of Carolina’s finest white lightening.  Being devout Lutherans, they reserved the wine for the parson to use during the blessed sacrament of holy communion, a “ministry” for which my grandma was known, and appreciated, far and wide.  My parents were Pentecostals; so, growing up, my older brother and I never had much opportunity to indulge ourselves in the more potent form of our savior’s blood.  Our church served grape juice for communion, as virgin as the Mother Mary herself.


That all changed one afternoon.  Aside from all the other talents grandma displayed, she also worked as a seamstress in a local textile mill, making towels, sheets, pillow cases, and whatnot.  My grandpa had recently crossed over to that far distant shore where we shall all meet by and by; and grandma was at the mill, so the old farm house was empty.  Being as nobody locked their doors in those days, my brother and I had no issue gaining entry into the ancestral abode.  We weren’t necessarily up to no good, more just looking to entertain ourselves by rifling through the stuff of our recently deceased grandfather’s life. 


That is, until we stumbled upon grandma’s stash of communion wine.  Well, all the grandkids had grown up drinking grandma’s muscadine juice any time we had breakfast at her house; and we all agreed there weren’t none sweeter in all the world.  But it didn’t take my brother and I long to realize, this weren’t no juice we were drinking.  I started getting a little tingly in my fingers and toes; and my knees suddenly went all flimberly.  Another jar in, and my brother and I both were starting to sway back and forth like the choir folks did when they were singing the old-time gospel hymns.


I don’t rightly recall much else of that afternoon.  My brother claims that, being sufficiently piss-faced, I became obsessed with pissing on the electric fence; but he’s as honest as satan, so I take it with a grain of salt.  At some point, though, grandma came back to the farmstead, her shift at the mill complete.  She reckoned we must be about the property somewhere, as she spied our bicycles there in the yard.  Having searched the house for us in vain, she commenced to investigating the barnyard, calling out our names with ever increasing concern.  She finally found us passed out amongst the hay bales in the barn. 


We were both drunker than homemade sin from the blood of our lord and savior.


Suffice to say, grandma had a long talk with the parson about why she would no longer be supplying the church with her beloved muscadine wine.  And my brother and I were both soundly thrashed for our debauchery.  To be precise, it was more like we were wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities… after we sobered up, of course.

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I felt a twinge of Mark Twain in that, sir. Thanks.

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