To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.
~William Henry Channing

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Be Sweet


She was born in October of 1915. Population of the United States was 100,546,000 and there were only 48 states. Woodrow Wilson was President. The average family annual income was $1,076. A home cost $3,200. You could purchase a first class stamp for two cents, a dozen eggs for thirty-four cents, a loaf of bread for six cents and the cost of a quart of milk was nine cents. Aspirin first appeared in tablet form, the telephone and Raggedy Ann were a common part of the American culture.
Born Marie Winefred Petersen, she was the second of eight children. Although not rich her father provided well and the family lived comfortably. Later in her own life there were times when money was lean but she managed to meet the lack with grace and imagination. Kettle tea...hot water with cream and sugar because there were no tea bags...was served with as much ceremony and excitement as regular tea.
When she was fifteen she met George Lee Walker. When asked about their first kiss she said knowing Georgie Boy it was probably the day they met. Her family was less than thrilled with the match but eventually gave their blessing. They were married forty nine years when he passed away. She still talked to him every night before she went to bed.
She had eight children of her own. One of the greatest tragedies of her life was the loss of her son Mac at the age of twelve in a horse riding accident. To cope with her grief she got her first job at Brownsville Bakery. Eventually she would work for the company that owned and operated Morrison‘s Cafeteria . Later she would become a hospital dietitian.
She loved gardening but made it clear she was a city girl…meaning she grew flowers not food.
Pillows. I’ve never known a person to put so many pillows on a bed.
One of my earliest memories is of her owl collection.
When I was a little girl Sunday afternoons were spent with Granny Re. “The Sisters”, as her daughters are affectionately called, would gather for coffee or tea and cake each week.
She was the epitome of the true Southern lady. She could insult you with the most loving of tones and gentle of smiles so that you really weren’t sure of what she said until about a week later. No one remembers her ever raising her voice though.
She decorated for the holidays….Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Not just a few things here and there either but everything from bedrooms, kitchen and living room to bathrooms.
She never learned to drive and never had her ears pierced. Sometime in her late eighties she started having her nails done.
She lived through WW I, WW II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust .
Although slavery had been abolished she grew up in a segregated world.
She was alive during Prohibition, the Great Depression and the Cold War.
She had sixteen Presidents during her lifetime.
She watched the assignation of President Kennedy play out in the news as well as the September 11th attacks. She would have also seen the first broadcast of NBC and consequently the birth of rival networks CBS and ABC.
She was a child when the first talking motion picture played in theaters. She might have listened to Orson Wells’ “War of the Worlds” on the radio or seen the original release of “Gone With the Wind” or “ The Wizard of OZ”.
Her life spanned almost nine and a half decades. All the things she experienced and lived through are mostly things the rest of us read about in history books.
We can share stories and memories and honor the life she lived. But where she is now…what she sees now…what she is living now…we can only imagine as her gentle soul has passed on to be with her Creator and we lay her body to rest.
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” I Corinthians 2:9

She marked Psalm 23 as her favorite. In the back of her Bible she had penned several short goodbyes and this one comforts me in my grief...
Do not think of times of sorrow-
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow. Good times, a loved one's touch-
My life has been full- I had so much.
Good bye for now.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just precious! I love hearing the stories of old told by ones who actually witnessed our history.
So much wisdom in grandparents and great grandparents!

Thanks for sharing,
WK

Lauren said...

This is so sweet Marty. I loved getting to read about your Granny. The history of someone's long life is always so interesting to me . I will be thinking of your family tomorrow. Love you so much.