My Granny was a wise woman and a tough one. In her eight plus decades on this earth, she encountered and endured many obstacles and she survived, despite them all.
She was born in the late 19th century and she lived well into the 20th. Her life began when railroads were the modern mode of transportation and her hometown (and mine) of St. Joseph, Missouri was in its' heyday.
Modern conveniences that she saw include electric lights, running water, central heat, refrigeration, telephones, automobiles, radio, movies, and television. She lived to see a man walk on the moon and to watch the satellite pass through the sky from her front porch.
In her life, she buried two husbands and a daughter. She outlived both her parents, her brothers and her sister. Her sister Robin died as a young child. Her father hailed from England where he'd served in the Royal Navy and once, as a group of sailors, sang for Queen Victoria at Christmastime. He came to America and to Missouri. When he died in 1929, he was buried in Memorial Park in St. Joe and a corner of that field became forever England.
She raised three sons and my dad was the youngest.
She marveled more at small things than the big ones. And when I would ask her how she had handled coming from coal oil lamps to electricity and from vaudeville to television, she just smiled and said, "It all came a little bit at a time."
She graduated from 8th grade in 1912, the same year that the Titanic went down to a watery grave and she wrote the Class Prophecy. I still have it - the neat letters penned so long ago on now fragile paper. She wrote with skill and talent. One day in my teens, she showed it to me and then said, "I couldn't be a writer - but you can and you should."
She lived through the Spanish flu and many others. War reared its' ugly head throughout her lifetime from the Spanish-American War and Teddy Roosevelt's charge up San Juan Hill, through two world wars, Korea and Vietnam. Two of her sons went to war and all three served their country. In her life, women got the vote and Civil Rights changed the status quo.
The years of my life have brought my own challenges including being widowed. The last three months have rocked my world to the core, changing all I've known.
I wish I could spend an evening on the porch with Granny. I like to think she'd have the right words to soothe my troubled spirits and that she could give me direction.
Since I can't, I can only rely on the tools she handed down to me - tenacity, strength, stubbornness and faith. She taught me faith, hope, and love - and like the Bible tells me, the greatest of these is love and that remains.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is community editor for The Neosho Daily News and The Aurora Advertiser. She is also an author and a freelance writer.