95 Years. That’s how long she endured this life. 1919 was the year she was born – a time that women’s rights were just becoming – anything. A time that out of 16 babies – she was one of 4 to live after her mother gave birth. A time in which a man could abuse his wife – and he got a slap on the hand. A time that when at 13, she could become married to a man in his 30’s to help her family. A time that she stood in the face of death – a shotgun held by her father- to shield her mother. She talked of running through the cornfields at night in the cold to get away from him. She spoke of jumping out of the car to help her blind mother after her father had pushed her out of the car on a dark, country road. She was just 6 or 7 years old and she took her mother by the hand and led her to safety – over and over again. She talked of her mother’s beautiful, dark, Cherokee Indian hair and skin. Making biscuits and caring for her siblings. And now – she is gone.
My Grandmother, Eva Mae – was amazing, strong, loving. She raised her children and most of her grandchildren. She lived a life of poverty until her dying day but prayed and spoke of God as her Savior without hesitation. I knew, always knew, that she loved me – for me. I was always the quiet one – but she and my Paw Paw loved me for that. She is gone and I feel that so much of my world left with her. I think that ultimately I could have told her anything and no matter – even if she disapproved – would still love me and hug me. A week before she died, I laid my head on her chest. She put her frail little arms around me, and patted me. Just as she would a baby – and talked of how my Paw Pay and she loved me when I was a baby. How I would reach out for her. That I never disrespected her. She just held me and was my grandmother one last time. As I wiped my tears I knew that would be the last. I hadn’t gotten to be just a granddaughter for a while – but in that moment – she was the strong one.
Eva Mae – I miss you so much.