Monday, September 29, 2008

A Lady Worth Knowing. A Lady Worth Remembering. My Grandmother -- Vesta Lorraine Golden Timmons

I have been blessed in my life to know all four grandparents and two of my great grandparents. And as of an hour ago, I'm down to having just one living grandparent -- my Mammaw Groves. My dad's mom, Grandma Timmons, was 90 years old and lived a hard and amazing life.

I don't know if you saw The American Girl Movie -- Kit, but my grandma often talked about standing in soup lines. My grandmother was abandoned by her father when the depression hit and when he made his living elsewhere, he never sent for his family to join him -- coward. This left my great grandmother to raise two young little girls by herself. My Grandma Timmons was the older of the two and was responsible for her sister Marie or Aunt Re as my daddy deemed her to be. Aunt Re died sometime back after suffering from a massive stroke that left her incapable of speech or communication and movement -- I'm glad this wasn't Grandma's situation.

My grandma told me lots of stories about her life, but it's the ones she didn't tell me that surprised me most. My daddy told me that she lived in vacant buildings downtown with her sister and mom during the worst part of the depression eating in soup kitchens. After her mom had a nervous breakdown, Grandma and Aunt Re were bounced from relative to relative to live never really staying in any one place all that long. Grandma even in her youth was shy and quiet and timid and dreaded being called on in class, but Aunt Re was a performer. If she saw a camera she struck a pose. Grandma said one day when Aunt Re was a little girl like 5 or 6 she was to meet her outside the school afterwards and walk home as they always did. Grandma arrived and waited and waited. No Aunt Re. Aunt Re had decided to take herself to the movies down the street by herself. Grandma talked of using a hot plate to make meals in their one bedroom flat in downtown Shreveport which was against the rules. She said all 3 of them slept on a sofa bed and sometimes the floor.

Grandma later ended up living with her mother's parents who were Primitive Baptist. She said that woman knew the Bible better than anybody she has ever known. One time when Grandma was in the E.R., she told me of a time when the Primitive Baptist were going to excommunicate her grandmother from the church because she liked to play dominoes and cards. When her grandmother got wind the meeting was happening, she marched herself down to the church and confronted them all. She said if playing dominoes was worse than gossipping, cheating, over-eating, and she listed several more sins applicable to the audience, she said they would have to excommunicate most everyone in that building. She turned and left. Needless to say, they didn't excommunicate her.

Grandma remembers getting potato sacks, boiling them, and then making dresses out of them. She thought she was something else in her new dress as she strutted around Logansport. It was while walking down one of the roads in Longstreet near Logansport that she met the man she would marry. Her cousin had married his older brother, so she was already aware of him. I remember her telling me they spent their honeymoon night at one of granddaddy's relatives house and that she could see the stars through the slats in the roof. It wasn't too long after that he got a job on the railroad, and they moved into a rent house.

Grandma gave birth to 3 boys. She was going to name the first one Gary Wayne, but my grandaddy got ahold of the birth certificate first and named him Val Ray. All while I was growing up, she called him Gary Wayne or Val about confusing to a little kid. My daddy was her baby. He's in his 60s and she would introduce him as her baby.

My grandmother endured hardship and abuse at the hands of my grandfather, and yet she stayed and didn't say one negative word about him. She stayed and gave her sons something she never had growing up -- two parents, a constant home-life. She was the meekest person I had ever met and one of the strongest.

My grandma lived on 10% of her heart and in chronic state of heart failure for easily 10 years. After being told she had to leave Longstreet with grandaddy to live at Live Oak Retirement Community, my grandmother blossomed and really began to live life. Every time the bus was going somewhere, she was on it. If there was a class to take, she took it. I have some of her paintings, and they are some of my most prized possessions because she painted them. I loved my grandma. She was one of my favorite people. I enjoyed visiting her at Live Oak or when she would be taken to the hospital. Many times in the E.R. she would be gasping so hard for breath, but still trying to talk to me that I would have to threaten to leave if she didn't stop talking and telling me stories.

She loved my children, and since she raised all boys, Pearce had a special place in her heart. She would tease him and would give both of them change for being good in school.

There is so much more I could say about this great lady. I'm going to miss her terribly. I love her very much and told her every chance I got. I was blessed to have had her in my life. I was blessed to have been able to spend weeks at a time during the summer with her and grandaddy in order to get to know them. She will leave a big void in my life, but I rejoice that she is in heaven in her new body completely healthy rejoicing, laughing and smiling along side my grandfather, Pappaw, Aunt Re and Uncle Don and her mother. I am thankful and I am blessed.

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