Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Go Grandma!

        Today, June 16,would have been my Grandmother's 114th birthday.  I suspect this photo I found of her in braids was probably taken a century ago when she was a young teen.
        She was one of a dozen kids born on a farm in southern Missouri. The biggest event when she was growing up was the annual reunion of ex-Confederate soldiers on nearby Barnitz Lake.
          Although she and grandpa met in St. Louis and lived in the city, they kept a weekend cabin in the country about a mile down the dirt road from the large white farm house where Grandma was born. We kids always considered her a hero of sorts and love to tell stories about her fighting off a snapping turtle at the swimming hole.
          Since she lived in the city and used public transit or walked to the store and church, she didn't learn to drive until she and grandpa retired to the farm. It was a good thing she learned to drive. Grandpa died a few years later and she was alone at age 68.
         But she was tough. I remember once when she was in her 70s she got her hand caught in the wringer washer and pulled the skin off her thumb. She wrapped it in a dishtowel, finished making a pie and delivered it to the church before heading to the doctor.
              When she was in her 80s her farmhouse was struck by lightning and caught on fire twice.  The first time she put out the fire with the garden hose. The second time the fire was too far along when it woke her. The electricity was off and the pump didn't work. She escaped in her nightgown and watched her home burn to the ground. She waded through a swollen creek and walked barefoot a mile down a dirt road to her brother's house.
             Grandma died almost 22 years ago, but I know she's watching us even now. Happy Birthday Maxine Tharp Merrell!

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