I remember Great Grandma Jane–my dad’s grandmother.
She scared me stiff! She always seemed so serious–perhaps a little grim even. I suppose if you live into your 90s after losing all seven of your siblings, two husbands, and four children (with just one remaining) you’ve earned the right to be less than jovial.
Dad used to tell a story about Grandma being interviewed for the local paper. She was absolutely livid when the article came out because they made her sound like a country bumpkin. Well, my brother turned up that very article!
It was in the Republican Delta on July 30, 1964, when Grandma was a mere 81. She lived to be 97 (almost 98) passing when I was 8. I kept a lace heart that had been on her coffin with some flowers for years. I wonder what happened to it . . .
Anyway. The article is about an oral history project to record Grandma’s memories and preserve them through the Upshur County Historical Society. So Daniel called the historical society up and what do you know? They found the tape and sent him a digitized copy. We’ll listen to it together the next time I head to WV. He could play it for me over the phone but I kind of want to hear Grandma’s voice right there on the land she passed down to us.
I asked him to confirm that she did NOT sound like a hillbilly, and he said she absolutely didn’t. No, “We went to church in them days,” as quoted in the paper.
And, Daniel says, she apparently wasn’t prone to my family’s tendency to embroider stories. She was asked about a legendary family tale about my great-great-great grandmother spending the night at Raccoon Rock with my great-great-grandfather a babe in her arms. Wildcats allegedly prowled the area, and she was dared to spend the night to win enough silk for a dress. She did it but was reportedly given plain calico instead. When pressed for details, Grandma stuck to the facts as she knew them and refused to elaborate. (Hmmmm. Maybe I’ll do that sometime!)
She did allow that she loved to dance, which was a surprise to me. But went on to add, “I was converted and never danced again.” Ah-ha.
The quote in the paper that resonated with me most was when Grandma commented on her conviction that she was going to heaven. “If I had any doubt, I’d be doing something about it,” she said. Now THAT sounds like the Grandma I remember!