Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category

Although we are still singing Sankey’s songs, still marveling at the miracles of Monet, still pondering the paintings of Picasso, and still savoring the sonnets of Shakespeare we often fail to realize that we all cast a shadow.

My Aunt Diddie passed away last night.  She was the sole surviving link to my mother’s generation; the gateway to another age as she lived 100 years, seven months, and 22 days.

It was not unexpected, and though we grieve for our loss, at 100 years and in failing health, she’s truly much better off.

She’s gone, but she’ll not be forgotten.

Willie Agnes Higgins Ward was born on June 11, 1916.  The Great War was raging in Europe, Woodrow Wilson was in the White House, and the tiny town of Longdale Furnace, Virginia boasted 2 cars.

Her family didn’t have one.

But, they did have a buggy and a horse named Prince.

She saw the Fair Deal, the sirens celebrating the end of WW I terrified her as a child, she saw the New Deal, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, Desert Storm, Kosovo, and the Gulf War.

She lived through every President from Woodrow Wilson to the inauguration of Donald Trump. She worked the voting polls in her tiny town of Goshen until she was 90.  She campaigned for candidates, encouraged people to vote and told them it wasn’t just a right, it was a responsibility.

She promoted good citizenship.

She fought for her rights, taking the Commonwealth of Virginia to task when they took her land for a road and getting a better sum than offered even if it was still disgraceful!

She taught a town to add and write and read, and today there are hundreds of mothers and grandmothers reading to their children who were taught to read by Mrs. Ward, Miss Willie, or Aunt Diddie, depending on where you fell into the spectrum.

She taught a town to worship God by going to church every Sunday she was well, teaching a Sunday School class into her late 90s, and telling everyone she met that Jesus loved them and wanted them to go to Heaven and all they had to do was ask.

She kept a garden until she was at least 94, and had chickens.

My ½ first cousin once removed (it matters) said, “…as a little girl I remember seeing these hands brush very long hair and wind it UP into a perfectly imperfect roll around her head.  I was in awe.”

We all were.  She never cut, colored, or changed her hairstyle in my life time.

Tami went on to say, “…I remember these hands setting out a 12 course dinner even though we purposely gave her no notice that we were coming so she wouldn’t go to any trouble…”

So do I.  If she knew I was coming she’d make my favorite meal; fried pork chops with the fat so crisp it shattered, mashed potatoes, and butter beans.

She had dinner for 40 every Sunday.

40.

Her two daughters provided her with 12 grandchildren and more greats and great-greats than I can count.  She’s adored by all of them, and they are heartbroken today but realize that she’s where she wants to be, and I’m sure Mother was so happy to see her there.

Aunt Diddie (L) and Mother

From year to year, decade to decade, from generation to generation, and from one century and into another, the long shadow of a little woman casts its calming cooling shade on many.

I’m so glad I’m one of them.

The Essentials

H Khan

When the father of the late Capt. Humayan Khan pulled a copy of the US Constitution from his pocket and admonished Donald Trump to read it, I was immediately reminded of my dad.

MOTHER AND DADDY 3

No, dad wasn’t a Muslim, he was a Baptist preacher.

No, he didn’t lose a son in war.

And no, he was not a Democrat.

Really, so not a Democrat.

But, one thing he and Mr. Khan have in common is they are the only two people I know of who carried around a copy of the US Constitution.

As a matter of fact, he gave me a pocket sized copy, which I’m sure I have somewhere in my ready for the next Hoarders episode house!

Yep, it’s the little things that bring back the memories.

There were four things that Dad could put his hands on at any given time; the Bible, a gun, a “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation” tract, and a copy of the US Constitution.

Ah, the essentials.

One of these days I’m gonna’ go to the beach.

Seems like I’ve spent the last 38 years taking vacation for graduations, wedding, funerals, birthday parties, and the like.

Oh sure, we stopped along the way at an historic home or two, and my kids can point out Civil War battlefields on a map,  but in the end, it was family that made us hit the road.

We never just went to the beach, New York City, or the Grand Canyon; we went to see someone, not something.

It seems a tad unfair in the long run, but I’ll have to admit, we always had a good time.

Of course, I did it again just this week.

My Aunt reached her 100th birthday, and a big celebration was held in Goshen, Virginia.

Now, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, Aunt Diddie is something special, and so is turning 100.

It was a quick trip.  I headed UP to North Carolina on Thursday and spent the evening with the “Baldwin Sisters” and their dog, who is older than Aunt Diddie, in Yadkinville.

Z and J at the plaza 2

On Friday morning we loaded UP their car, re-packed mine, plugged the dog’s life-support into the cigarette lighter and headed UP Interstate 77 where we picked UP Interstate 81.

Four hours later, we were in Lexington, VA, the place of my nativity.

Lexington VA

I headed off to Buena Vista to spend the weekend with my brother and his wife while Zola and Judy headed on to Goshen some 30 miles further as they had reservations at the Historic Hummingbird Inn, a B and B.

Hummingbird Inn

I don’t do B and Bs.

Getting to my brother’s place is no easy task.  You go UP the mountain,

60 UP the mountian to the Blue Ridge

under the Blue Ridge Parkway,

Up the mountain to the Blue Ridge

and take the first right off the paved road.

Panther Falls Road

Then it’s down a winding mountain goat path gravel road consisting of eight or ten “kiss the back of your neck” turns.

Panther Falls Road 2

Once you’re at the bottom, you start the twisty trip UP another mountain by taking every right you can.

Finally, you’re at their home and it is a straight shot UP the side of the mountain on what can almost be called a drive way.

Charlie and Diane's Drive way

Almost.

Sort of.

You might remember I faced near death on said drive way a few years back when I got stuck and nearly tumbled off the side of the mountain.

This time, well, let’s just say I’ve learned more about mountain driving over time.  But if you’d like to read about it, well here’s the link.

Mountain Top Mishap…Mountain Top Madness!

But, once you get there, well, you’ve got this…

Charlie and Diane's Front Porch

…and this…

Deer in yard

…and this…

View from Charlie's

June, usually pleasant in the Virginia mountains was hot hot hot!

It was 97 degrees, a near record!

Friday evening we met the sisters and our first cousin, Margie and her daughter Tammi at Ruby Tuesday’s.

It was great catching UP with them, and we all talked excitedly about the big doings going on the next day over in Goshen.

The tiny town of Goshen, VA decided to honor my Aunt on her 100th birthday, and along with her Church and children and grand-children, they put on a bash at the Goshen Boy Scout Camp. (BTW, it was 100 years ago today that President Woodrow Wilson granted the Boy Scouts a Federal Charter.  They are the only youth organization to have one.  The Boy Scouts celebrated their 100th birthday a few years back as they were founded prior to the charter from President Wilson.)

Boy Scout Camp Lake Boy Scout Camp Monument

She was given a key to the town, June 11 was proclaimed Willie Ward Day in perpetuity, and she was showered with gifts and much, much love.

Aunt Diddie at party

I was able to see cousins galore from as far away as Michigan and Maryland, all of whom I’d not seen in years.

Part of the crowd

Yes, that is my finger in the picture, so I’m not Ansel Adams. #getoverit

Aunt Diddie was surprised by the event – and I’ll have to admit, I didn’t think it too good an idea to surprise a 100 year old person, but she weathered the storm, rode to the park in the parade with sirens blaring and lights flashing.

Key to the town

It was an event.

It made the 11 PM news! ( http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Goshen-woman-celebrates-100th-birthday-382599721.html )

It was worth the trip.

Like I said, one of these days, I’ll go to the beach, but I’m so glad I didn’t go this time.

Cake 4

 

Not Done Yet.

My only living Aunt will turn 100 tomorrow.

There’s a big bash planned in the hills of Virginia, and I’m a gonna’ be there.

Hopefully most of my umpty-ump cousins will be there. I have a ton, and am looking forward to seeing them.

I have posted about my Aunt Diddie often, this is a recap of a post from one of her earlier birthdays…back when she was “just” in her 90s.

I’ve said everything there is to say, but some of it bears repeating.

She is an awesome woman, an educator, a woman of influence, and our family’s last connection to our past.

Aunt Willie

Willie and Wallace

There’s really no connection other than the date and the party.

Both events happened on June 11, one in 1916, and one in 1963.

Both were Southern, both reared by parents born in the reconstruction era, both lived through the Great Depression, both were educated, both were smart, and both were Democrats.

But they couldn’t be any more different if they tried.

In 1963, George Wallace, then Governor of Alabama stood in the door way of the Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to block the entrance of Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, two black youths who were trying to enroll in college.

Wallace

It took the US Justice Department and the National Guard to get them in the building and registered as part of the Student Body of the Crimson Tide.

Wallace’s stand of  “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever” was the philosophy of thousands across the nation, and the attention he brought UPon the State of Alabama caused a stirring and awakening in the land.

But, back in 1916 on that same day,  June 11, Willie Agnes Higgins was born.

Aunt Diddie and Cora (her grand daughter.)

As she spent her life in the art of educating those around her, I can not imagine Aunt Diddie barring the door to anyone who wanted to learn.

A life long Democrat and an elementary teacher for 43 years, Mrs. Ward, or my Aunt Diddie as we call her, taught thousands of kids to read and write, count, learn history, and how to behave.

I’m quite sure that had Aunt Diddie been leading the two Alabamans to Foster Auditorium, Wallace would have moved a lot faster than he did.

Happy Birthday Aunt Diddie, we love you!