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MCCULLOUGH: Human race owes debt of gratitude to grandmothers

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

You probably already believe your grandmother is pretty important. But did you know just how important?

According to a British scientific study published this week, it's because of your nana's love that the human race thrived and our lifespans increased.

The Proceedings of the Royal Society has added new mathematical evidence that it was because of grandmas helping nurture and take care of babies that mothers could focus on having more children, and this helped the human race propogate. Granny wanting to make sure you get enough to eat, it turns out, is a product of thousands of years of human evolution.

I think my grandmothers might represent the peak.

My Mammaw, God rest her soul, cooked constantly. You woke up to the smell of bacon and you went to sleep with a piece of chocolate pie or caramel cake in your belly. In between, she cooked. We'd have biscuits, eggs, bacon and sausage for breakfast, and you wouldn't even be finished with that before she'd be up and working on dinner, which is what people call lunch in Mississippi. I think they call it that because it's the size of what everyone else calls dinner, with every meat, vegetable and dessert imaginable. Supper might be leftovers -- with fresh biscuits, of course -- or it might be a fried mess of freshly caught catfish.

Besides keeping us fed, Mammaw sewed and crocheted all sorts of things to keep us warm, worked in the garden, made ceramic crafts, told great stories and killed snakes. And a story about killing a snake, well, it didn't get any better than that. Part of my love of writing and telling stories comes from listening to her stories when I was little.

The other part comes from my Granny. Granny just celebrated her 90th birthday and has been having a tough time lately. But over a lifetime, Granny has chronicled our family history with stacks upon stacks of organized photo albums, complete with old letters, newspaper clippings, personal notes and more. Granny could always tell you about something that happened five years ago or 75, and keep your rapt attention while doing so.

She was also a wiz in the kitchen, worked on the farm and a full-time job, took care of sick family members and held down the fort while Granddaddy fought the Nazis.

Granny cleaned the first (and only) rabbit I ever killed, cooked the first fish I ever caught and introduced me to a quilting frame (if you want to know why people charge so much for handmade quilts, it's because it's an art and hard work to make them). She also showed me that a strongly religious woman could also be a pro at practical jokes. And at night she would read me Uncle Remus stories.

I'm sure your grandmothers all did similar things for you, and those of you who are grandmothers are doing it now. The rest of the human race should be eternally grateful. We always knew grandmothers lived for us, but now we know that we live because of them. And we have scientific evidence to prove it.

And if you don't believe the scientists, ask your grandmother. I'm sure she'll be glad to enlighten you.

And cook you something for dinner.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.