My grandma on my Dad's side sold AVON when I was little and she loved to take me on her calls and deliveries. I never understood why she would would wait till I came over, which was really often especially in the summer, to go on her runs. She was a hilarious country woman, tall with her gray hair died "Beach Blonde" She had her own huge garden, which my brother and my three cousins and I worked every summer. I had shucked enough corn and shelled enough peas to feed a small country. So I loved the days we were delivering Avon and not picking and canning okra. She had a riding lawn mower and she loved to ride that thing. But on the big AVON days, she would dress up to the nines and pile me in the "STARSKY AND HUTCH" car she loved...thats what she called it because it did look like their car from the TV show, and away we would go, driving around the rural areas of her side of town delivering Avon. She wanted me to dress up when we went like it was a big social occasion. My grandma always carried her purse on her forearm with her wrist turned upwards toward the sky, a white patent leather snap clutch swinging from her arm, her high heels making her even taller. As we pulled up the gravel drive to someones house she would brief me..."Ok, this is Ms. Crenshaw's house. She might offer you a cold drink. Just say yes m'am and take it. Even if you don't want it." I would say Ok and she'd tell me to straighten my dress and we'd approach the door. When I stayed with her, it was always summer when I was out of school and the Southern heat was wet and sticky. My bare lags always stuck to the car seats even if the air conditioner was on. My skin was always moist and my grandma would take a kleenex and wipe her brow as we rang the bell.
"Well hey, MS. Crenshaw, Ha You a doin'?" My grandma would say. "I got my my granbaby with me today. Remember Beth?"
And I'd look up at the older pretty lady in pearls and say "Hey, nice to see you." My Grandma would head to the couch when invited, "Y'all come on in and have a seat. Can I get y'all a cold drink?"
Ms. Crenshaw would say. My grandma would look at me as if to say.."Ok we rehearsed this.."
We sat on the couch near the growling window unit air conditioner blowing frigid air and dripping condensation on the green sculptured carpet. Ms. Crenshaw would bring us sweet iced tea and my grandmother would begin her show. She'd open her bad of magical potions, and perfumes and lipsticks, that held promise of transformation. Then she'd open the little white sack she carried and as if it was the best gift in the world, she'd announce, "and here is your order" ..and she would take each jar and compact and pretty dainty bottle and make a display of all the things Ms. Crenshaw had ordered the week before. I loved watching her do this same show over and over at house after house on a hot summer afternoon. My grandma was a genius show girl. she loved the spotlight she was in with her potions and bottles. She loved visiting the women, She loved getting all dressed up, showing up with the pretty things in the white sack. And, she loved showing me off. I understand now why she wanted me to go. She talked all about me when she did her visits. "Why Beth is a baton twirler. She is in a competition in Florida next week, uh huh...and I'm a going too." She'd say. "Beth's gone be in a parade here on memorial day downtown..you ort ta come and see 'er." She was so proud. I was always a tad embarrassed as I thought the ladies just wanted to talk cosmetics. But I realized later that they loved hearing my grandma talk and loved her visits. They were personal. Old friends. We could so use those old days of Avon...being delivered on a hot summer afternoon...by a lady dressed to the nines and her grandaughter. Maybe in the rural parts of America it's still this way...maybe. If not, it should be. My grandma was connecting with her friends and neighbors in ways that have been lost. The days of front porch sitting long gone, all of us inside on our lap tops, not even communicating with those inside our own homes.
I so miss my funny rural minded grandma, riding her lawn mower in her blue jeans and bare feet. She could light up a room like nobody else. She was firey, and said what she thought. Loved hard and fought hard...and loved to show me off, as she did all of us grankids. We are shaped by those that raised us. Thank heavens for those Avon Summers with my grandma.