The little black dress, the pill box hat, a simple strand of pearls, and a good pair of Levi’s…they last for ever.
Today is my Aunt Diddie’s birthday, she’s 94.
Talk about longevity.
Her name is Willie Agnes, my mother, her younger sister by three years, tried to say Sissie, and it came out Diddie.
It stuck. My siblings all call her Aunt Diddie, the rest of my bazillion cousins don’t.
Born in 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was in the White House and WWI was a blazing in Europe, she grew UP in Appalachia along with her umpteen brothers and sisters, several farm hands, Grandma and Grandpa, and three years later, my Mother.
I’ve never met anyone quite like her. She never complains. When you ask her how she’s doing, she repies, “Well, if my back didn’t hurt, I’d have no worries at all.” and adds, “But when it does, I just sit down, and it goes away.”
Her life has not always been easy. Born into a hard working, cash strapped family, she grew UP with a lot of love, direction, and care. My Grandparents were great. They grew most of what they ate, Grandma sewed most of what they wore, and the entertainments were simple.
When Diddie was born, she already had adult brothers and sisters, she and Mother were the last two, and were born late in Grandma and Grandpa’s lives.
(Diddie’s on the left and Mother’s on the right. They were about 18 and 15 in this picture.)
She didn’t go to school until she was ten years old. It was too far to walk, and Grandpa would have none of it. But she says she doesn’t think it held her back at all.
And apparently, it didn’t. She was the first in her family to graduate High School (at 20), and the only one to get a college education.
She taught the first grade for 43 years. For the first 20 years of that, she taught the first six grades in one room. She taught her own children, who had to call her Mrs. Ward in school, all of her nieces and nephews, except us and one other group as we lived out of state.
You can’t meet anyone in Goshen, Virginia who won’t say, “Mrs. Ward, she taught me how to read!”
The Commonwealth of Virginia used eminent domain and took her house to “put a new road in”. They paid her a paltry sum, she bought a new one and had it built on the land they left her.
She married a man she would have been better off without and stayed with longer than she should have, because marriage was for life, divorce wasn’t an option, and she’d “made a commitment”. When life got too dangerous, she showed him the door.
They had two wonderful daughters, both nurses, and she has 12 grandchildren, and I have no clue how many greats and great-greats! But, every Sunday, she cooks UP a storm, and most of them – nearly 40 – come home to eat with Granny.
She hasn’t cut her hair in my life time, and has never changed her hair style.
She’s a Devout Baptist, and an Avid Democrat. Yes, they can be one and the same!
She won’t tolerate disrepect, hatefulness, or meanness.
She still owns a car, and drives around town and to church, but has her grand-daughter take her “Lexington” for the doctor and to get groceries.
She has chickens, a rooster, and cats, several.
And she has a garden, which she still tends!
She knows what my favorite meal is and ALWAYS has it when I am coming by; fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, and butter beans, in case you were wondering.
I’ve never heard her say an unkind word to or about anyone in my life. Diddie loves her ‘stories’ on TV, the news, politics, and working at the polls on election day which she did for decades and only quit recently.
She always finds the best in everyone.
An inspiration to anyone who meets her, my own son said, “I want to be Aunt Diddie when I’m 94!”
Like I said, she rarely complains, but old age and changes have taken a little toll.
She once said, “The worst thing about getting old is not being able to wear my high-heels to church.”
Life is good, let’s hear it for longevity!
It never goes out of style.
Happy Birthday Aunt Diddie.