Friday, August 7, 2009

The Gentile Giant and The Firey Fairy

Once upon a time not really so long ago, there was a soft spoken, quiet giant who fell in love with a small beautiful fairy. She was as feisty as he was quiet. No one would have expected them to be attracted let alone marry, but marry they did. He went about he work for a rail road and making a doll house for his small love (she was 4ft10, he was 6'2). I know this because as I grew I felt like a giant in a fairy's house when I visited. He adapted the whole house to her needs. The kitchen could have been used by a average 10 year old with no challenges. I loved it. She loved it. They spent all their spare time together working, playing and having two lovely girls.

I don't think I ever heard him raise his voice, maybe say "now there Dora". This was my dad's older sister. Dora Langley who married the gentle giant Edward Grote. They had a small house a block from the court house in Pawnee. I say small, it was two bedroom with a summer room on the back. During the time before air conditioning when people would sleep out in a screened in room to keep cool during the summer.
They had a cellar (it was Oklahoma, you HAD to have a cellar). It was in the middle of the backyard within easy running distance from the house if the tornado warning came. Aunt Dora had canning shelves in the cellar. As kids, we would place King of the Mountain on the top of the cellar, and all of us knew how to retrieve food when sent.
We had many fun times at their house. When I was in first grade and my mother was away at college, Aunt Dora would take care of me while my dad worked. Uncle Ed, the gentle giant, would pick me up and take me home after school.
When they grew old, she developed colon cancer. She survived it, but the chemo made her cardiovascular system weak, and she died of a heart attack 6 years later. The gentle giant was lost. His fairy was no longer there to perk him up and make him laugh. 12 years later he took his life. No one knows why, but there was a sadness in him after his loss, that never went away.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Tribute to an Awesome Family Researcher

I was inspired early in my genealogy research by a wonderful lady called Judy Self. When I was starting by asking my aunts for information, one went into her closet and brought out a letter from a "cousin" several times removed. The letter was a standard request for information on our family as it related the Selfs and the Gildons. I was intrigued and answered the letter my aunt had tuck away. It was wonderful when I received a long letter from and enthusiastic genealogist. She was full of knowledge of the family and freely shared of it. She sent me copies of letters she had from correspondence with various family groups. She had started out researching her line of Self, and then the Gildons and from there she just blossomed. She did not just cover the pedigree's; she also included shared stories, some of her own speculations, documents that she had hand transcribed at a time digital cameras, and copiers were not on hand. After about 2 years of correspondence, she sent me a letter that she had finished a book and was offering it to people for the cost of printing it.
At the time, I was dirt poor and had just had my 4th child. I had to decline, but we continued to correspond. About 5 years later, I knew I would be in the state she lived in and asked permission to stop by and meet her face to face. She graciously said yes and I went by. It was the shortest 3 hours I ever spent. She asked if I would like to take the book and make copies of it then send it back to her. WOULD I! She loaned it to me and I made copies of the 755 page book. I still look at it sitting on my shelf and marvel at the information she compiled during her research. She was a model at finding family and pulling stories out of them. She hand typed the book on an old type writer and as I found out when I made the copies, she only charged for the cost of printing and shipping the book to anyone who wanted a copy. It was not an ego trip, she freely gave and thought how important it was to share the information she had been given. It was a great example to me as I have tried to continue the tradition.
Due to health issues she doesn't get out to research any longer, but she keeps in touch with her fellow researchers and passes along any new findings. How grateful I am to have had her as an early mentor in developing my methods and open mind research and generosity in sharing. Hope you had someone as inspiring as I did to help you get started. Lori has been that type of person on the blogs for me too. Thanks a bunch.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Legacy I Would Love to Create for Myself

My earliest memories of my Aunt Lillie are when she would come into the kitchen, of whichever of the Aunt's we were at for a holiday, with her huge turkey roaster and armloads of rolls, etc. When she arrived, there was always brightness and laughter.
Lillie Langley was the youngest of my father's family. She was full of life. She was born in 1923 and died in 1963 at the untimely age of 40 years. I loved her so. Some of her sister's blamed her early death on the fact that she had 5 children. NOT. What a legacy they have been to her. She loved everyone of them, in fact she was like a mother hen, and would snuggle in any that needed loving. She had 3 girls and 2 boys. All but one is still living. Her daughter made the comment, "
Momma I do believe had heart trouble. It was just not diagnosed. She was having a horrible time with the hormonal changes.Which was at the time of her death too. She was going through menopause. I'll never forget it. They had done surgery on her and she just went right into it. I found out later that the doctor she was going to, had given her Librium of all drugs for the emotional ups and downs. Librium itself can cause heart attacks and other things. But I have to look at it this way. We felt very cheated when she died. I was 15 and you just have no idea as to what that did to all of us. I have come to believe in my heart though that We all have a time to be born and a time to die. and that for what ever reason, God took her home early in life. It was her time. and nothing was going to stop that from happening." We all can take a lesson in life from this. We miss someone, we wish we had them back, but realize it was just their time to return to Heavenly Father and find comfort in that knowledge.
My favorite memory was spending two weeks with her in the summer of my 12th year. My cousins taught me to swim in a crayfish pond and she taught me to love cooking. Every morning she had a wonderful smelling breakfast ready for us (a delicacy of biscuits and gravy, I still can not is a comfort food) . The biscuits were homemade, dipped in bacon grease, and baked. Not really healthy eating by today's standards, but mmm mmm good tasting. You could float into the kitchen on the smell. Her daughter told me:"This made me feel so good Frances, as I could actually smell those biscuits and gravy and could see her again. My momma had the habit of pouring bacon grease on her eggs before she ate them. She loved that. She always made homemade biscuits and would turn them in oil or bacon grease before baking them."

She had thick dark brown hair, laughing eyes, and friendly, loving lips that had the hint of smile always at the edges of her mouth.
She was always full of smiles and had a wonderful sense of humor. I hoped to be like her, she never held grudges or hurt others feelings.
If I am successful in following her example, I hope that my legacy will be of kindness, hope, love, and laughter for my family too.