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Mom Said

Bertram Girls front030 - Version 2Sunday is Mother’s Day and I’ll honor my mom with memories. Even though she passed away more that twenty years ago, I still remember many things that she said, and not just her words. There was no time that Mom spoke louder or more clearly than when a surprise gift arrived one day.

At 13, I was as tall as Mom, five foot, seven inches and taller than all my friends. I didn’t like being tall. Mom often placed her hand on the small of my back and gently ran her fingers up my spine. “Stand tall and proud,” she’d whisper.

Dad’s large hands rubbed my shoulders. “No slumping. You’re beautiful – just like your mother,” he’d say.

I didn’t feel proud or beautiful. Just tall.

One summer day a package from Sears Roebuck came in the mail. Mom was pulling weeds from her flowerbed and told me to put it on the kitchen table.

That night while I lay in bed reading Mom laid the package on my bed. I’m not sure of the exact words of our conversation, but they were something like this. Mom said, “Susan, this is for you. You’ll probably never wear it. But you’ll have it if you need it.” I ripped the package’s thick brown paper. Inside was ugly white material—like the drop cloth we’d used while painting my bedroom. This thing had hooks and laces.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“A back brace,” Mom said. “I know it’s hard to stand straight. I remember. I was taller than everyone at school.”

“A brace? My back doesn’t hurt.”

“It’s not for pain. It’s to help you have good posture. You don’t need this brace now. We’ll just put it in your closet and if you ever think it’s too hard to stand straight, you can wear it.” Mom put the hideous brace, inside its brown package, on my closet shelf. Front and center. Eye-level.

After Mom left my room, I wanted to throw the package away, but instead I threw it onto the closet floor, kicked it to the back corner. Throughout my high school years, that package stayed hidden. Mom still rubbed her fingers up my spine. Dad still patted my shoulders. They didn’t have to say anything. I never wanted to see that ugly brace again.

I survived being the tallest girl in my class, and I even accepted my almost-last place in our high school graduation line – shortest to tallest.

When Mom and I packed my clothes before I left home for college, she found the worn package on the closet floor. “I don’t think you need to take this,” she said. I was sure I didn’t.

Years passed. After I graduated from college and married, Mom and I cleaned out my closet so my room could be her sewing room. “Where’s the brown package?” I asked when the closet was empty.

“Gone,” Mom said.

“Where? Did you find someone who needed to wear that awful brace?”

“No. I threw it away after you left for college. It did its job. I’m glad it never came out of the package.”

“So you didn’t want me to wear it?” I asked.

“I hoped not. That might have been the best $6.00 we spent when you were in high school. You stand tall and straight with wonderful posture.”

Mother never took a child psychology or a parenting class. She was a smart, loving mother, and even now, half a century later, when I feel my shoulders slump, I hear her. Loud and clear.


It’s a Bittersweet Time

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.20.12 AMIt’s a bittersweet time when children pack up their belongings and go away to college. Parents wave goodbye and wish they hadn’t done such a good job. They raise their children to be independent and take wings and when the kids happily leave the nests, parents cry. Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. Tears for no reason. Well, maybe only mothers cry, and not all mothers. I did.

When Husband and I took our firstborn to college, I was happy that she was going to the school that she chose. Sad that it was a four hours away. Happy that she felt confident. Sad that my little girl had grown up. As we drove home, I replayed every birthday she’d celebrated and cried that those years were gone. And then two years later, Son moved across town to go to Tennessee Tech.

I tell parents to give themselves two weeks to adjust and they’ll like the empty nest stage. It took that long for me to sleep through the night. No more 3:00 a.m. awakenings to check beds and be sure that all were home and safe and sound. When I wrapped a gift, the scissors and tape were right where I’d left them. And there were no gym bags or backpacks to stumble over in the hallway.

When my children lived at home, they did their own laundry. To me, that meant wash and dry and take the clothes to their rooms. To them, doing laundry meant put clothes in the washer and turn it on. Or dry clothes and leave them in the dryer. In my empty nest home when I opened the washer and dryer, they were empty. And the leftovers that I’d stored in the refrigerator to eat for supper were still there. The only dirty dishes in the sink were my cereal bowl and coffee cup. And there was enough milk for my cereal the next morning.

I admit that learning to parent from afar wasn’t an easy learning curve for me. For 18 years when our children walked out of the house, they told me where they were going and with whom. It took time for me to learn that no news was truly good news and to trust that I’d get a phone call when someone needed me or had something to tell me. I tried to follow my own mother’s advice: tell them you love them and don’t ask too many questions. There are some things we parents don’t want or need to know.

Finally, I discovered empty nest freedoms. Husband and I took spur-of-the-moment overnight trips. We ate only at the restaurants that that we liked. I went clothes shopping for myself. The whole house stayed cleaner and neater.

Just when I began to really like Husband’s and my new lifestyle, Daughter and Son came home for a weekend visit. Somehow, I didn’t mind finishing the laundry they started, and I cooked their favorite meals. I carefully maneuvered around their shoes and backpacks and duffle bags, knowing they wouldn’t be there for long.

And on Sunday afternoon as they left, I gave them all the food leftovers, plus the bags of groceries I’d bought just for them, kissed them good-bye, and swore that I had some allergy problems. Why else would my eyes by red and watering? Tears of sadness. Tears of joy.


For Better, Not Worse




My friends said that I’m in trouble.  Said I have some adjusting to do.   Said I should give Husband and me some time. Said it’ll work out, but it won’t be easy.  Said it’s not like anything we’ve experienced in our marriage.  These four college girlfriends have known Husband and me since he and I first met, and my friends have all been where we’re going, but I think they’re wrong.


For all the 44 years of our married life, Allen, husband who I must call by name for this column, has worked.  Except for short vacations, he’s showered, shaved, dressed, and gone to work five days a week.  Next week, he won’t.  He won’t go to the office before 8:00 a.m., come home around noon, make his own lunch, eat, go back to work, and come home for the evening after 5:00.  Allen is retiring.


My friends told horror stories about some newly retired husbands, but not theirs.  One husband completely reorganized everything in the kitchen cabinets.  One expected three meals a day, cooked and served.  Another thought he should know where his wife was every minute of every day and what she was doing.  One walked from his bed to his living room recliner and called it exercise.  And one husband suddenly needed to know the exact cost of every item that his wife bought at the grocery store.


Allen won’t do any of those things.  So why are my girlfriends concerned?  When they ask what Allen planned to do, I said that he might want to work part time.  He’ll want somewhere to go and something to do.  And I said that I plan to continue my erratic come-and-go-as-I-please schedule, and I have a list of places for Allen and me to go and things to do.


I retired five years ago and adjusted quiet easily.  I like my quiet mornings.  No TV, no radio, and a leisurely breakfast on our back deck, if the weather is good.  During the past five years, Allen went to work and I spent the day however I wanted.  Exercised at the YMCA.  Played with my Grands.  Hid in my closet office and moved my fingers across my computer keyboard.  Ate lunch with friends.  Piddled the day away.  I didn’t completely neglect household chores.  Laundry and dusting and grocery shopping got done – in due time.


I’m really happy for Allen.  He began working when he was 12 years old.  He stocked shelves and swept the floor at his family’s grocery store where he continued to work through his college years.  And he’s worked ever since.  In retail business.  For Tennessee Tech.  Owned and managed convenience stores.  For an insurance agency.  But starting next week, he won’t go to work.  And he and I will have a grand time together, won’t we?


I think my girlfriends are wrong. Just because they and their husbands struggled through a year-long adjustment period after they both retired, doesn’t mean the same for Allen and me.   This chapter of our marriage is the ‘for better’ not ‘for worse,’ isn’t it?









All is Well


“He’s here!  All is well.”  I read that text message and knew all I needed to know.  Jesse, my grandson, my Grand, had been born and he and Daughter were both fine.

It didn’t matter that it was almost bedtime; I left my house and drove to the hospital.  At the nurses’ station, I asked for directions to Daughter’s room.  The nurse smiled and said, “Grandmother?”  I nodded.  “Just follow the loud crying.  He doesn’t like his first bath.”

My, how times have changed! Gone are the days when I birthed babies and no one was allowed in the birthing room.  I walked right into the huge labor and delivery room. Daughter sat on a hospital bed, and I hugged her in the biggest bear hug possible.  Son-in-law stood right beside the nurse while she gently patted baby Jesse’s legs with a small, soft cloth.  Wearing only a diaper, Jesse lay on his back in a hospital infant bed that looked like clear plastic tub.  The nurse said, “All finished.  Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”  Son-in-law leaned over Jesse and laid one hand on his tummy, the other held his son’s tight fist.  The picture I took will be the first one in Jesse’s photo album.  A father and son talk when son was one hour old.

While Daughter and Son-in-law ate sandwiches, I sat beside Jesse.  Still wearing only a diaper, he lay under a warming lamp.  He seemed completely relaxed lying on his back, his arms spread straight from his shoulders, his legs straight, his little lips smacking, his eyes open.  I held his fist and when he spread his fingers open, I slipped my finger into his hand.  He closed his hand, grasping my finger.

So many strong emotions flooded through me.  Love.  Thankful.  Relief.  Happy.  Joyful.  Ecstatic.  On Cloud 9.  Grateful.  Blessed.  Emotions that jumped straight from my heart to my eyes.  Tears streamed down my cheeks.  I could’ve cried big loud sobs.  Cries of joy.  But it wasn’t the time or place.  I took a few deep breaths, prayed silently, and wiped my wet face with the back of my hand.  Little Jesse’s dark eyes were just inches from mine. I concentrated to imprint this moment in my mind.

As I’ve thought about the day Jesse was born, I remember that morning.  Daughter was folding clothes and watching her children run under, around, and through fountains spraying from a water sprinkler.  “You know,” Daughter said, “it feels good to have a day like this.  We haven’t had a day to just do nothing and stay home and play in a long time.”   Spoken like a mother of four and carrying a baby due any time.

At lunchtime, I told Husband, “This may be the day that Jesse is born.  At his house, there is a huge tree on the ground that last night’s windstorm blew down and the washing machine quit working this morning, but everyone is calm and happy.  Seems like a perfect day for a new baby.”

A new baby.  Almost two weeks old now.  And all is well.  I’ve cried those big tears of joy – more than once.


Who Gives This Bride?


Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 2.53.52 PMWhen my friend Kae Fleming said that Santa would escort her son’s bride down the aisle, I knew there was a good story.


It seems that for years, Santa had surprised the Fleming family while they ate Christmas Eve dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  Unknown to Kae’s son Drake, Santa was their family friend, Bobby, who owned the local dry cleaning business.  Like other children, Drake noticed Santa’s red suit of hanging in the dry cleaners and accepted Bobby’s explanation that Santa had to get his clothes cleaned, just like everyone else.  Every Christmas Eve, Santa held Drake on his lap and gave him a small gift.


Bobby lived on a big farm close to the Duck River where he invited friends to play, fish, swim, and ride 4-wheelers.  Among Bobby’s guests were Drake’s family and Bobby’s girlfriend and her two young daughters.  It never occurred to Drake or the other children that Bobby was Santa; he was a friend who cleaned their clothes and had a great place to play.


Fast forward to Drake’s high school years.  For four years in homeroom class, his assigned seat was beside Kayla Floyd, Bobby’s girlfriend’s daughter.  By the fall of their sophomore years, Drake and Kayla’s friendship morphed into a romance.  A romance that blossomed and grew.  They played team sports: football for him, softball for her.  They went to proms, hung out with friends, courted like high school sweethearts do.


And then they graduated.  Drake accepted an appointment to West Point in New York, and Kayla chose to enroll in Tennessee Tech and play on the softball team.  Separated by 850 miles, Drake and Kayla continued their courtship with late night phone calls, daily texts and emails, and sporadic visits during their college years. They stayed committed to each other and to completing their educations.


One summer night last year, Drake’s family hosted a picnic gathering for family and friends.  Drake asked everyone to bow their heads for grace and right in the middle of the prayer, he said, “Y’all can raise your heads now, in case you haven’t figured out why you’re here.”  And then he dropped to one knee and proposed to Kayla.  The picnic turned into an engagement party.


As the wedding plans were made, Kayla chose Bobby – the man who was Santa and had invited Drake’s and Kayla’s families to play at his farm – to walk her down the aisle.  Although Bobby and Kayla’s mom’s relationship ended years earlier, a special bond between Bobby and Kayla stuck.  Bobby mentored and encouraged her as an athlete, a student, and a young lady.


Now Drake and Kayla have graduated from college and will wed on June 14 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Columbia Tennessee.   Drake’s mother said, “Bobby will walk Kayla down the aisle to give her away to Drake!  He’ll wear a tuxedo, but probably should’ve considered a Santa suit!”


Surely, Bobby will wear his Santa suit for the reception.  And I hope they stage a photo of Drake sitting on Santa’s knee and Kayla, in her beautiful white wedding dress, holding Santa’s hand.

Imagine the questions that Drake and Kayla will be asked later.  Why did Santa come to your wedding?  Is that really Santa?

Yes, for this bride and groom, Bobby is really Santa.


A Tribute to Grandma



She was almost 90 years old and had spent the past eight years in a nursing home.  The last three practically confined to a bed. She left her room only to be taken, in a wheel chair, down the hallway to the bathing room where she was showered while she remained seated.  Her three daughters visited daily – taking turns on a schedule so that one of them was with her every day, usually during lunchtime and they helped her hold her spoon.   And I, her granddaughter, visited once a week – no certain day, most often late afternoons.

Grandma Gladys communicated very little.   Her greeting was a mumbled, “How are you?”  She answered questions with a simple yes or no – sometimes by nodding or shaking her head.  She rarely initiated conversation.  I’d tell her what I’d been doing and about my children or funny things that the students in my sixth grade class did or what I planned to cook for supper.  Sometimes she responded, sometimes not.

I asked Grandma what she ate for lunch, and I couldn’t understand her answer.  “Chicken?” I said.  She pulled her eyebrows down and shook her head.  “Meatloaf?”  “Macaroni and cheese?”  We played this question game until I gave up or named something that she’d eaten.  When I asked who visited her that day, I understood her answer because I knew my Mom’s and my aunts’ visiting schedules.

Grandma Gladys was always pleasant. Agreeable. Content. Appreciative.  Never angry.  Before I left her small world within the four walls of her room, I leaned over to kiss her forehead, told her bye and that I loved her.  She responded, “Thank you for coming.”  The clearest words she said.  Or maybe the ones I understood most easily because ever since I was young and visited her and Papa in their home, she always said those same words when I told her bye.

She didn’t watch television or read.  A large window close to Grandma’s bed brought the natural world into her room.  She watched the leaves on the small maple tree change with the seasons.  And she watched the sky.  White clouds, blue sky, storm clouds, gray sky.    If I forgot to give a brief weather report, the temperature and predicted precipitation, she asked about it.  “Hot?” she’d say on an August day.  “Rain?” she’d ask.  She’d been the daughter and wife of farmers.  The weather had determined their day’s work and year’s income.

Mom visited Grandma one cold, winter day.  The sky was gray and the wind blew.  Light, feathery snow swirled.  Mother fed Grandma her lunch and spent most of the afternoon knitting as she sat in a chair beside Grandma’s bed.  Grandma lay looking outside.  When the time came for Mom to leave, she gathered dirty clothes from Grandma’s closet and picked up her own knitting bag, purse, and coat.  She leaned over Grandma’s bed to tell her bye and Grandma said, “Put your coat on.  It’s cold outside.”

Neither age nor rheumatoid arthritis nor mental illness nor the confines of a nursing home robbed Grandma of her mothering instincts.  She continued to take care of her daughter.


Thanksgiving – Then and Now

iz347022I stood at the corner of Mom’s dining room table.  Mom and Dad, my two aunts and uncles, and my grandparents sat in ladder back chairs around that drop leaf cherry table.  We children – my brother, my two boy cousins, and I – set our plates on the table corners and as the food was passed we spooned it on our plates.  And we ate at the linen covered card table just an arm’s length from the big table.  Thanksgiving, when I was a kid.

Mother and her two sisters took turns hosting holiday meals and they did it with style.  Best china and crystal and silver.  A starched white tablecloth and matching napkins.  A fall centerpiece.  And these three ladies were good cooks.

The menu rarely changed.  Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, green beans, creamed corn, lima beans, sweet potato casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, relish tray, rolls, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, sweet tea.  All homemade, from scratch, except for the bake and serve dinner rolls.  Mom, as the hostess, cooked the turkey and dressing, and all three sisters stirred and tasted and seasoned the gravy to get it just right.  Aunt Doris made pies.  Aunt Nell made the relish tray and lima beans.  The vegetables – home grown beans and corn – taste the same no matter who cooked them.  Sweet potatoes topped with melted marshmallows.

After we ate, the women gathered in the kitchen for the clean-up ritual.  Out came plastic containers to divvy up the leftovers.  Enough for each family’s meals over the weekend.  Mom’s and my aunts’ talking and laughing and sharing secrets entertained me, and I willingly dried the dishes just to be close to them.  The clean up was finished when I crawled under the table to move its legs so that both leaves could fall, and it was moved back against the wall.

When my generation married and had homes and children, Mom and my aunts passed on the honor of hosting Thanksgiving.  We’ve sat at many different tables as my family grew.  And our menu expanded.  Cousin Carolyn’s whipped potatoes and green congeal salad.  Cousin Janie’s cherry salad.  Sister-in-law Brenda’s sweet potato casserole with a crunchy topping.   My cranberry salad.

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, Husband and I will sit at that same cherry dining room table at Brenda’s home.  Sit with her, my two cousins and their wives, and all our children and grandchildren who can be there.  We’ll sit in those same chairs where my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and my brother once sat.  In prayer, we’ll remember them—those who are no longer with us.

We’ll fill Brenda’s best china plates with the same foods that have graced that table many Thanksgivings, and we’ll probably repeat some of the same stories that have been told since I was a kid.  After we eat, we women will gather in the kitchen with take-home containers in hand.  We’ll clean up the kitchen, and then one of the children will crawl under the drop leaf table to move its legs so it can be moved against the wall.

I’m thankful that Mom and my aunts created Thanksgiving traditions.  And it makes me happy to celebrate with family around the same table where I once stood and filled my plate.  Back when I was too young to sit at the big table.


Life Goes Around


            Many years ago, Husband and I lived the life that Son and my favorite Daughter-in-law are living now.  I’d forgotten some things about life with a two-year old toddler and a newborn, but it all came back to me during a weeklong visit with Son and his family.

When a toddler goes to bed at 7:00 p.m., he gets up at 5:30 a.m.  When he goes to bed at 8:00, he gets up at 5:30.

Newborn diapers are the size of a standard letter envelope.

Bananas taste better when you hold the whole banana.  Why did I ever think my toddler Grand would like a banana cut into slices?

Newborns relax and sleep when they are swaddled tightly in a blanket, and swaddling takes practice.  My three-week old Grand squirmed enough to free his arms when I wrapped him, but he stayed tightly cocooned when his mother swaddled him.

Newborns spit up within thirty minutes after being dressed in a clean outfit.

It’s fun to see the big green garage truck stop in front of your house.  A city worker dumps the contents of your fifty-gallon trashcan into the back of the truck and then the trash is all gone.

Don’t say ‘outside’ unless you plan to go outside.  And don’t say ‘take a walk,’ unless you are ready to go outside right that minute and take your toddler with you.

A walk around the block is an adventure.  Yellow flowers, smooth rocks, and Linden tree leaves are treasures.

Choose a book that you truly like to read aloud.  After I read the last page of Dr. Seuss’s There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, my toddler Grand immediately said, “Agen!”  By the fourth reading, I wished I’d chosen a different book.

When you take a newborn to the grocery store, other shoppers who are close by walk slowly and speak softly.

A towel draped over a kitchen table chair is a perfect hiding place, and a toddler is quiet when he hides.

Peek-a-boo is a laugh out loud game.  I covered my face with my hands and said, “Where’s Dan?”  My toddler Grand dumped the wooden blocks out of a plastic tub and covered his head.  He lifted the tub and giggled when I simply said, “Peek-a-boo!”

Newborns cry when they are hungry or have a dirty diaper or need to burp.  And sometimes a newborn cries and only he knows why.

A toddler can be one second away from a melt down, especially when he is tired or hungry.

It’s makes you happy when you serve a second helping of your home-cooked spaghetti to a toddler, and he pumps his fists and says “Oh, yeah!”

A wooden train set can entertain a toddler for at least twenty minutes, several times a day.  Eight train cars can be lined up in many different ways.

When a newborn sleeps in your arms, you should sit perfectly still and savor every moment.

It’s okay to go to bed before dark.  The toddler in his room.  The grandmother in hers.


Mother’s Day Picnic


“Oh, make it easy,” I told my family.  “You know I like Kentucky Fried and a picnic.”  My family, like most families, wanted to get me out of the kitchen on Mother’s Day.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go out to eat somewhere?”  Husband asked.  I assured him that a picnic with just him and our children was my choice.  “So where do you want to go?”

“Surprise me!”  I said.

Our children, ages 9 and 11, teased me later that Saturday afternoon.  “You won’t believe where we’re having a picnic.  Guess.  Like 20 questions.”  Have we ever picnicked there?  No.  Have we even been there?  Not really.  Is this a place you think I want to go?  Yes!  Questions and answers all evening long.

Sunday morning, on the way to church, Daughter said, “Guess some more, Mom.  You’ll never figure it out.”  Will we have to walk a long way?  No.  Should I wear my hiking boots?  Husband and Son raised their eyebrows and glanced toward each other.  Yes.  Finally, I refused to ask another question.  It was time for clues.  A place I really liked.  I’d have to climb.  There wasn’t a picnic table.  There were lots of trees.  There weren’t any bathrooms.  We wouldn’t have to drive far.

On the way home from church, we picked up fried chicken – crispy, my favorite – and I got to choose the side dishes.  At home, we changed from church clothes into shorts and tee shirts, and I put on my hiking boots.  We gathered drinks, a roll of paper towels, a couple of folding chairs, and a quilt.  “On the way,” Husband said, “I need to stop at the house to check on something.”  ‘The house’ was the one we were building.  The first level was framed, and the carpenters had just started on the second level.

Husband opened the back of our van and grabbed something.  “I’ll be right back.  You don’t need to get out,” he told me.  Both our children followed him.  A few minutes later, Husband motioned for me.  “Come here.  I want to show you something.  The kids are upstairs where their rooms will be.”

I questioned if climbing the ladder to the second level was safe.  Had he let the kids climb up?  I clutched each rung as I carefully placed my big boots on the narrow ladder steps.  The blue sky, with a few puffy cumulus clouds, opened wide.  “Is there a floor up there?”  I asked.  Husband encouraged me to keep going.  Just as my head reached sight of the second level, my son and daughter jumped up from the quilt they had been lying on.  They stood tall; arms stretched high above their heads.  “Happy Mother’s Day!”  they shouted.

It was the perfect place for a picnic.  A plywood subfloor, with no walls or roof.  The only time I’ve ever dined among a maple tree’s high branches and looked down on the white blossoms of dogwood tree.  Our own private dining room, and I didn’t cook.


A Love Story


They were 19 and in love and wanted to marry.  Doris planned to tell her dad while she cut his hair, but the scissors slipped and nipped his ear.  It bled.  She couldn’t say, “Hugh and I are getting married!” while her father wiped blood off his neck.

The year was 1943.  A time when couples were often married by an elected official.  A few days later, Doris told her father and mother about her wedding plans.  They gave their blessings, and her sister made her a new dress.

Doris and Hugh had known each other all their lives and started dating during their last year of high school.  She worked in a local restaurant and Hugh stopped by every day to see her.  After high school graduation, she rode the bus to Nashville with a cousin to be trained for a factory job.  A job left vacant by men who were fighting a war.  After three days of training, Doris said, “I’m going home.  I want to be where Hugh is.”

They dated for fifteen months and on March 13, 1943, Doris and Hugh travelled from their homes in Byrdstown, Tennessee, to Rossville, Georgia where Judge A. L. Ellis performed their wedding ceremony in his office.  Doris and Hugh lived with his parents for six weeks – long enough for him to learn that he was denied enlistment in the Armed Forces because he had a perforated eardrum.

Hugh found work in Akron, Ohio, at the Goodyear Rubber Plant and lived with an uncle until he found housing for himself and his bride.  As she rode the bus from Tennessee to Ohio she imagined their new home.  A white cottage with a white picket fence.   Hugh took her, by city bus, to their first home – a one bedroom, small upstairs apartment.  It didn’t matter.  Doris was happy to keep house and cook for her husband.

For the next seventy years, Aunt Doris kept house and cooked for Uncle Hugh.  They lived in Ohio for sixteen years and then bought a farm back home, in Tennessee, where they moved with their only child, a son, fifteen years old.  Hugh became a dairy farmer, and she worked in retail businesses.  And she was well known for her chocolate pies and dried apple fried pies.

Along the way, family and friends and laughter filled their home.  They hosted hamburger cookouts, card parties, Christmas dinners, spaghetti suppers, church meetings.  Their family grew.  Two grandsons, three great-grandchildren.  All loved to visit their Pa and Granny’s house – a home filled with acceptance and love and hugs.

When they reached retirement age, life barely slowed down.  He hit the golf course and neither missed a trip.  Together they followed their favorite sports teams and politicians.  And they kissed good-bye when either left the house – even for a few hours.

Last month, Aunt Doris and Uncle Hugh were honored at a anniversary reception.  Two weeks later, Uncle Hugh slid onto the floor and his heart stopped.  Two weeks after that, Aunt Doris suffered a major stroke and passed away.  Both at home.  Both living their normal daily lives just hours before.

One of their grandsons wrote the following:  If you are going to write the Great American Love Story from beginning to end, this is how it ends.  A celebration of their 70th wedding anniversary with most of their dear friends, Pa heads out to get the permanent house ready, and then Granny comes home.

They were 89 and in love.