An almost heaven grandma

My mother, previously known as Grandma Keyser to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren has gained a brand new monicker … at least from one member of the tribe!

Recently, my granddaughter Maddie Jo has taken to calling her Grandma West Virginia.

Maddie and her momma love everything West Virginia. They love WVU. They are a blue and gold dynamic duo!

They love the mountains. They love the valleys. All this love might just have something to do with Tiff’s dad and step-mom who live in Fayetteville, W.Va.

Little Maddie has made that trek and has totally and thoroughly fallen in love with the state as she peers out the window from her car seat.

Tiff and Maddie recently made the journey to Morgantown and took in a WVU Men’s Basketball Game with Pappy and MeMe. The little three-year old returned with a miniature basketball bearing the blue and gold of the Mountaineers and for days it was her prized possession … she even brought it to church with her the next day.

From the trip, Maddie also brought home something else … she had learned the words and music to John Denver’s hit song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

She sang it right on key and didn’t miss a word.

It seems that Tiff filled the long drive to Morgantown by teaching our little music prodigy the tune as they journeyed down the road.

And that is, in my opinion, where many good singers get their starts … in the back seat of their parents’ vehicle as they travel to visit a relative or a friend.

That’s part of where my siblings and I got our introductions to music.

Mom comes from a long line of singers. Her mother’s family was very talented in that department. They all had beautiful singing voices and many played musical instruments.

To this day, when I close my eyes and let my mind drift back through the years, I can still see Grandma Graham standing in the choir loft at the New Athens United Methodist Church. She had the most gorgeous alto voice. Her’s was a clear and strong voice with a very soothing quality. She had a God-given gift and she used it to sing each Sunday morning. She also often shared her musical talents outside of the church.

This usually happened with her duet buddy, Howard Johnson, who had a tenor voice that could give you the chills. That man could sing. The music these two made was beautiful. Howard’s wife, Agatha, often joined in the singing sharing her beautiful soprano voice. (Secretly, I always wanted to grow up and have a voice like Agatha. It didn’t happen!)

As for Grandma’s family, her sisters and brothers also sang. So did her parents.

I can remember a time when I was very small and we were visiting at the home of her parents in Hopedale. They entire family gathered around the old upright piano as Grandma played “In the Garden.” It was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. There’s nothing like the harmony produced by a choir comprised of family members!

And this leads me to my back seat education in music.

As youngsters, each time we would jump into the our family car, someone would start to sing to fill the time as we traveled.

We sang simple songs, but boy did we get fancy, even doing rounds which would lead to someone sticking their fingers in their ears to avoid hearing the other “parts” of the song.

Those were times that I will never forget … and apparently Tiff has a similar memory of one of the simple pleasures of travel.

Her daddy has a wonderful bass voice and I’m sure he spent many hours singing to his little girl as they rode along in his vehicle. Now that she is all grown up, she is doing the same magical thing with her daughter.

So, when Maddie Jo sang her version of “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” to my mom emphasizing the “West Virginia” and “Mountain Momma” parts, mom told the little singer that her name was Virginia.

And, from that point on, she has been known to Maddie Jo as Grandma West Virginia!