Many of us have to depend on others memories for our stories of great grandparents. I never knew any of my great grandparents. I'm so thankful of Becky, my dad's cousin, writing a few stories about Rebekah Hart Thompson. We stare at old tintypes and black and white photos, trying to make some connection. I have a picture of David's Grandmother Lyon on my dresser as a young girl, around eight, I would think. She looks so spunky in that image with adult relatives, staring at the camera.
I know she had red hair and a temper to go with it, although, by the time I met her, as the red faded to a pure white, her temper had been tamed. I saw some of that indignation at the oldest great grandchild's wedding as Grandma knew Ray was to help in the ceremony. He had grown a beard for some local centennial, leaving him unrecognizable to her. She fumed through the whole ceremony at the impostor, her chin set and eyes steely. When Ray came up to her, she hardly acknowledged him, till he greeted her with, "Grandma."
As we journeyed to Emporium on Saturday, I thought how I want to write all the stories of our ancestors. The peace of the mountains poured into me. I thought of the lumbering business, in which, those many years ago, Jesse Skillman, Grandma's father, endeavored. My mother-in-law's father rode the rails, as a brakeman. The Nickler's, the Metz's, the Skillman's and Lyon's all have stories so worth telling.
I wondered, too, at the love story in the house we stayed at this weekend. My mother-in-law helping her husband with his coat. He doesn't want to be long without Ellen. They have lived in the house for sixty three years, will be married sixty seven this June. Dad's memory, destroyed by dementia, still knows his wife, yet all he forgets irritates her at times.
Their great granddaughter, Cassandra, wrote a beautiful tribute for her Grandma Ellen for Mother's Day. I dared anyone to read it without a tissue. I was already weepy this weekend. Cassandra is not the oldest great grandchild, but she is eighteen and privileged to spend almost every Sunday worshiping with her family and Sunday dinner, the old fashioned kind, at Great Grandma's.
In a few weeks at the Alumni Banquet, she will be a fourth generation to graduate from Cameron County High School. I remember when her aunt did it, twenty five years ago. Four generations, still living, all in the same town. She will have double, because, even though Grandpa Lyle doesn't know her or what the big dinner will be about, he will be there, along with her great grandma, two grandparents and parents, who beat the odds of early marriage by staying together.
Cassandra called her Grandma Ellen, an angel. I know blessings abound in this family because we are family, honoring God, family and country. Stories of love, endurance and hard work from the mountains that they call hills.