Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hattie, Helen and Bernice (Our Parents and Grandparents)

Life is short; stories are permanent. The stories that stretch my imagination the most are the ones where the seniors reach backwards to talk about their parents and grandparents, the ones that cross over four or five generations. Here are Hattie, Helen and Bernice sharing about the men and women who raised them. And in this way, stories can turn our lifetimes from one-man sprints into a team sport. Life becomes, in a good way, long.

Hattie Lee Ellerbe
May 27, 2010

This letter is to my paternal grandmother.
My father was her only child.

Dear Grandma,

Did I ever tell you that I love you?

I remember as a child, you always lived in the same house with us and shared in our well being. You made our clothes and clothes for our dolls. We loved to visit you on the third floor and go through all your treasures.

Although, Mamma and Daddy were Baptist, we loved to go to Mother Bethel AME Church with you. You would love to know that I am still a member there. You instilled the love of God in us and wanted us to be nice, clean, smart, and good little girls and later young ladies.

When Momma died at age 28 (due to child birth), you stepped right in and took over the parenting of the five of us, ages new born to nine years old. I loved you so much then, but I don’t remember saying so.

However, many years later when I was 41 years old (1974) as I was saying goodnight to you, I kissed you and said I love you and you looked up at me and smiled and breathed your last breath in my arms.

Helen H. Lahr
May 27, 2010
One of the Things I’m Most Proud of in My Life

I say one of the things of which I am most proud because there are many things in life that I am proud of. I will write about number one.

My sister and I were very blessed to have a mother and father like our parents. We couldn’t of had better parents. Diane and I were surrounded by love. Our dad was a construction worker who always provided for our family. He never let our mother go to work and she took good care of us. In those days there were no electric refrigerators or washing machines. During our very early years I can remember my mother washing clothes on a washboard and heating the iron on a stove with wood. She went to the butchers on South Street every other day. Every day she made hot biscuits for us. I can also remember how she made starch for our dresses and our dads shirts and also the borders of our pillow cases and sheets. In order to press these articles they had to the sprinkles and folded and put in a special laundry basin. She wanted her family to look nice. Our mother never left us with anyone- she took care of her “girls” herself. When daddy was home he liked to watch us play with our friends from the neighborhood while he sat back and smoked his pipe. There wasn’t a morning before work that he didn’t come into our bedroom to “look in on the girls” as he put it.

His pet name for our mother was “doll baby”. They had grown up in the same small country town, they were married at the ages of 15 and 17 and were inseparable.

So you can see what beautiful parents Diane and I were blessed to have. They shaped the manner in which I raised my children.

Bernice Moore
Thursday, May 27, 2010
A Woman Who Cared About Children

My foster mother was a person who cared for children. They would send the child who was worst off. Some were ill and disabled, but she would take the time to love them. I would help her all the time. They would send children that nobody wanted. There were some who could not walk or talk, and she would take the time to help them. I was sent there to help her.  There was a boy who they said would never walk, but in time she had him walking. There were a lot of unwanted children. She was a good foster mother. All the children that were sent to her in the bad shape, when they left they would be walking and talking.

My foster mother died in 1950. At the time, I was married and my husband was in the army. I miss her so much. She taught me a lot of things to do in my lifetime. I will never forget her.