My grandmother was known as Gram, and she died in Oregon when I was about six years old. She had lived in the hills of Kentucky, married to a petty county official, part-time preacher, bootlegger, and general scoundrel. She had several grown daughters and five children at home, my mother then being the youngest at 3 years old. One day Granddad packed up every thing in a wagon, hitched the horse to it, called the kids and Gram and drove away, never looking back. Gram never saw her daughters or her grandkids again. One thing Granddad knew about the Bible was that women were to be in subjection, and Gram knew that, too. She kept the five kids with her and Grandpa and rode the wagon clear to Oregon. They stopped for a year in Missouri, where my youngest uncle was born.
Granddad always had money in his pocket but spent nothing on the family. Everyone had to shift for himself; Gram had to make do the best she could to feed the family. It took them about three years to come into northern Oregon and make their way south to Medford. It was there that Gram found out that in the case of a divorce, the Oregon courts often awarded the kids to the mother. This would never happen in Kentucky in those days for the father always had custody.
Gram decided to stay put. She squatted in an empty house with her six kids, took in washing, went to the Methodist church, and reared the lot of them, all through the great depression. The boys generally married good wives and the grandchildren went to church and confessed Christ.
Gram never saw most of them. Granddad went on South to Yuba City and died there, never seeing his family again or sending a dime of support. Most of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren confess Christ and live Christian productive lives today. The sins of the father were not visited upon them; the Lord worked in their lives; and they were added to the church.
They are the offspring of a woman who had a few years of grammar school education, who worked from sunup to sundown, walking miles to the homes of the rich to do their washing, read her Bible every day, made quilts, went to church every Sunday. Among her children no one could lay a finger on her and they spoke reverently of her until the day she died in my mother’s arms. She would not have been comfortable in any of our modern churches, but she knew the grace of God, loved her Bible, and believed in Jesus Christ. She never went to a spa, never visited a hairdresser, never knew anything but toil and faith. But she had iron in her veins.
I have only a very dim memory of her, and I am not sure the one I see in my mind is that of the small picture that my Mother always had in a place of prominence in our home. I am not proud of my grandfather, but I am immensely proud of that heroic Kentucky woman.
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