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Cheryl Hughes: What Aggie Meant to Me

Aggie passed away the day after Thanksgiving.  She was Garey’s mom, but she treated me like she was my mom.  I loved her like Ruth loved Naomi, and she loved me like Naomi loved Ruth.

Aggie taught me so many things that no one else bothered to teach me, like how to cook green beans down without burning them; how to cut off corn with a sharp knife then scrape the cob to get all the milk that was left, leaving a skillet-full for fried corn; how to add just a little flour to the cornmeal for perfect cornbread; and how to use milk instead of water for the perfect box cake mix.

Aggie always—ALWAYS—told the truth, no matter the consequences to herself.  If she believed someone was lying to her, she wouldn’t call them a liar.  Instead, she would say, “I believe that is a misrepresentation of the truth.”  (Garey and I still use that phrase.  It makes us laugh every time.)

Aggie was an excellent seamstress.  She made clothes for me when Garey and I first married, and she made beautiful dresses for our daughters when they came along.  I still have most of them.  The grandchildren, our two daughters and Charlotte’s (Garey’s sister) two sons loved her.  She would gather them around her on the pull-out sofa bed in her living room and tell them stories or read to them from a children’s book she had.  I can still see her with curlers in her hair, a thin scarf tied around her head.  She built bonfires in the driveway, and they roasted hot dogs, and she took them with her to check on the cows across the road, so they could wade in the creek there.

At Aggie’s funeral, the pastor, who had known her for many years, said, “Agnes Hughes was the hardest working woman I have ever known.”  It took everything in me not to stand to my feet and shout, Amen!  When I married into the family, it was a challenge to keep up with her in the fields, in the kitchen, in the yard, in any place, really, and she was 27 years older than I was.  She was a human dynamo.  If it’s true that idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, I can guarantee Aggie never worked for him.

After Garey’s dad passed away (28 years ago now), Garey brought a little Sheltie puppy to Aggie’s house.  She said she didn’t want a dog in the house, so Garey fixed up an old dog pen behind the house for the little thing.  The next time we visited, there sat the dog at Aggie’s feet, watching Gunsmoke with her.  Aggie named the Sheltie, Fancy.  When Fancy passed away, Charlotte found another Sheltie for her mother.  Aggie called this one Angel.  Angel lived until last December.  She had the little dog cremated, and she told us when she, herself, passed, she wanted Angel’s ashes to be buried at her feet, where the little dog always lay when she was alive.

Aggie lived a very meager life, even after she had enough money to live differently.  She saved and reused everything from bread ties to jars, jugs and cans.  She washed and reused Ziplock bags so many times they started to return to the petroleum from whence they came.  She was the original


 There were two things Aggie wanted on this earth that she never got.  Another bedroom and a dining room.  She lived in a house of four rooms, a bath and a basement.  When Garey’s dad was alive, he promised her he would add on to their house, but he never did.  Aggie wanted the extra bedroom for us when we came to visit, so we wouldn’t all be crowded into one room.  She wanted a dining room, so she could put the extra leaf in the table, giving her room to have more people at the meal.  I remember one Thanksgiving, there were so many extra friends and family, I found myself balancing a plate on my knees on the arm of the sofa.  I hope Aggie’s house in Heaven has a huge dining room table and lots and lots of extra rooms for visitors, because I, for one, plan on wearing out my welcome.


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