I believe this is the first picture ever taken of me, when I was eight days old. It was taken in the yard at Grandma's house. It shows me in the rocking chair she sat in to crochet, write letters, read her daily chapter from the Bible, and listen to her soap opera on the radio. She never owned a television.
It's no wonder I have such sharp recollections of her house: We had family gatherings there every Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Her house was a small one, and there were lots of children and grandchildren around on these holidays. Somehow, there was room for us all.
When I was old enough to be away from my parents for any length of time, I would spend a week with Grandma during the summer. I would follow her to the chicken house to gather eggs and to the barn to milk Patsy. She was often in the garden, and in summer, of course, she was canning fruits and vegetables. Grandma was never idle; even if she was sitting in her rocking chair, she was crocheting or writing letters.
I loved to roam in the woods across the road from her house, and wade in the creek; it was there that I had my one and only experience with leeches. When I got out of the creek and saw those slimy things hanging onto my legs, I went running to Grandma, yelling, and she held a match to the nasty things one by one until they let go.
Her life was very orderly. She read a chapter from the New Testament every night; she went upstairs to her quilt frame every afternoon, Monday through Friday, and turned out beautiful quilts. Sunday afternoons or evenings, she wrote letters. Lots of letters, because she had lots of friends.
Uncle Leo, Aunt Mary, and their four kids lived about a quarter-mile up the road,so when I was at Grandma's I always had somebody to play with. Carolyn, the oldest, wasn't much for child's play; I think she was born an adult. The others, though, were always ready to join in my silly pretend games.
Because they lived so close to Grandma, Uncle Leo and Aunt Mary were the ones to see that she got her weekly "trading" done in Bethany. They took her to doctor's appointments and mowed her yard. It was because of them that she got to stay in her own home until very close to her time of dying.
This is the last picture I ever took of Grandma; she had just fed Tippy (not the original Tippy; it was just too hard for her to remember a new name for a dog, so she stuck with "Tippy"). The date on this picture is 1963, and that's the year she died.
She had intestinal problems throughout the last years of her life; she'd have sick spells where she'd spend a lot of time on the couch, between trips to the bathroom (that was the only time you'd see her lying down in daytime).
Finally she was taken to the hospital, the first time in her life she had to be in such a place. She died there at the age of seventy-seven.
Everybody should be so lucky to have a Grandma like mine. Everybody should be so lucky to have aunts, uncles, and cousins like mine.
I've had a wonderful life.