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minikin

Minikin's Journal

Routine Ramblings of an Occasionally Interesting Housewife


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My father's words about Granny
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minikin
Daddy spoke about Granny at the memorial.

My parents are my role models, and I find that one of the times that I cry is when I think of how far below them I fall in my own estimation. I cried when Daddy thanked Mommy.

There were hymns, Mommy's friend Lisa spoke about Granny, then Daddy did, then the pastor. I really love my parents' pastor. He has surely found his calling in life, as a minister and teacher for their church. His words touched me, as they always do.

There was yummy food, and my cousin was there, with his wife. We talked a little - mostly about our dogs. They have a lab puppy who sounds like a handful of love.

Home now. Gonna hunt up my phone and turn it back on and change the voicemail message. It's so seldom that I turn it off, that I tend to record a message explaining why, when I do.

I do intend to write about vacation, but there isn't much to write, really. It's that kind of restful vacation. Needful, considering the context.

These are my father's words about Granny:

First let me thank you for being here today as we honor my grandmother, Mable Baker. Some of you have known her for a number of years, and others of you have prayed for her without ever meeting her face to face. So I would like to tell you a few things about her.

Before I do that, though, I want to thank my dear wife, Myrna, for all the love and care she has provided my Grandmother for the past 20 years. She has cared for Granny as though she were he own Grandmother. That is very special care as for the first several years of Myrna’s life she was raised by her own grandmother. I know that I could never have cared for her as Myrna has.

It never ceases to amaze me when I realize the wisdom we can have as we look back on past events with the maturity we lacked when we were going through those events. It is a rare young person who can appreciate all that is taking place as he or she goes through the early years of youth and adolescence.

My earliest recollections of my grandmother are of her living with my family in Washington, DC in about 1939. She told me that on one occasion she heard me using the word "dam" that I suppose I had heard my dad use. She sat me down and explained to me that a dam was something that held water to make a lake. Apparently that satisfied my youthful curiosity about the expression and did not continue using it.

She was born in Chalkville, Alabama on June 12, 1896. Her father’s name was Willett. She was the first born in her family; six years later, her mother gave birth to a son but died shortly thereafter. Granny, at age six, assumed responsibility for caring for her younger brother, and as her father remarried a few times, had some caring responsibilities for other half brothers and sisters as well. At some time while she lived in Chalkville she accepted the Lord and was baptized. Perhaps at the Baptist Church in Chalkville that Myrna and I drove past with some of her relatives last July while we were attending the International Gideons Convention in Birmingham.

In my youth, on the many occasions when she lived with my family, I just assumed that she was there because she had no where else to live. I now know that it was more than that: she was there as a service to my family to help care for me and my two brothers. I now know that, perhaps through the responsibilities she encountered with her own family, she had a heart for service. I have no idea of how many times she boarded a Greyhound bus and went to live with relatives at a time that they needed help through difficulties.

She married my grandfather, Johnny Roberts, and they had one child, my mother, Minnie Mae. When my mother was young, Granny went to help another family through a convalescence and on returning divorced my grandfather because she learned he had been unfaithful in her absence.

When my mother and dad met and were married in Washington, DC, in the mid thirties, Granny was working as a housekeeper in the home of a Union Executive in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, and by the time I was born and reached age three, Granny was living with my parents and me.

She did not move to Houston with us when my father retired from the Navy in 1939, but did join us in Pensacola after my father went back into the Navy and my first brother, David, was born in Pensacola, Florida. Granny was there to help my mother and stayed until she met a friend of my father, Al Baker, and they were married.

After Pearl Harbor and my Dad received orders to North Africa, my mother and family lived a short while with Granny and her new husband in the Tampa, Florida area, before moving to Waco, Texas, to live with my Dad’s uncle, Bud Garber, Waco’s last blacksmith.

Later in World War II, when Dad was stationed in New Orleans, Granny again lived with us and spent much time caring for me and my brothers… No small task as my brother, David and I had rheumatic fever one year while we were there.

When Dad retired from the Navy for the second time in 1948, Granny again lived with my family and when Dad built a home on acreage near Houston, a room was included for Granny. Thereafter, she lived with us off and on. When she was there she helped get us off to school in the mornings, often made our lunches and did the laundry and countless other things, especially when my mother worked outside the home. For a while in Houston she worked as a Housekeeping Supervisor at the Rice Hotel, but mostly she took care of my brothers and me when she lived with us.



When Myrna gave birth to our daughter Debra in 1961, where we were stationed in Key West Florida, Granny boarded a Greyhound bus and stayed six weeks with us in our Navy quarters there, to help Myrna care for Debra. It was when we were trying to figure out where Debra got her red hair that I learned that Granny had been a red head. I only remember her as being gray.

In 1959, Granny had not come to help us when our son David was born but I’m sure she would have done so if Greyhound had had a bus to the Philippines. Not to worry, though, Myrna had a fulltime maid while we were in the Philippines.

From 1974 until 1984, Granny lived in a HUD assisted apartment for the elderly in Macon Georgia, the McAfee Towers. While there, her nieces, the children of the brother she raised from his birth, would visit her often. Harriet was married. Mary Alice was not. When Mary Alice decided to marry, and Granny also realized how many of her friends in the McAfee Towers were dying, she called and asked if she could move to Texas into the same type of HUD assisted apartment in Houston. We checked and found that there was a one year wait for comparable accommodations in Houston. As David and Debra were no longer living at home, we had plenty of room and asked her to come and live with us. She resisted at first, but relented when we said she could put he name on the waiting list for the HUD apartment if she did not like living with us.

When she first arrived, she insisted on helping with the household chores and continued to do so until just a few years ago.

Her main pleasure in life has been reading, and she confided in Myrna that her worst fear about aging was that she would become blind. A doctor in Macon had said that there was nothing that could be done for her eyes. Myrna, not to be deterred by some unknown Georgia doctor, took her to a competent eye clinic in Houston, which first put her into the proper lenses and shortly thereafter did a lens implant operation to overcome the cataracts that had developed in one eye. It was like a new lease on life. Her vision was great!

Old habits are hard to break, so after she was 90 years old, she traveled by bus to Tallahassee, Florida, to care for my a cousin, my Aunt Margaret until Margaret entered the hospital for surgery some months later. She still had a servant heart into her nineties!

She partially avoided our move to San Antonio, in 1990, by visiting her nieces in Georgia, this time by plane. She would like to have stayed in Georgia to die, but the relatives there were not in a position to care for her because of a lack of medical facilities at their rural location and lack of finances. She moved to San Antonio and we agreed that her remains will be buried in Georgia. She has lived with us in our home until about two and one half years ago when she entered a nursing home where the Tri-Sun staff and Hartland Hospice workers have provided most of her care. Lisa Nixon has been faithful to visit her, probably more often than Myrna and I have been able to. Many of our friends have also visited her. Granny’s niece Harriet has faithfully sent Email to her almost every day since she entered the nursing home. We printout the Email in a large type, and she has enjoyed keeping up with happenings in Georgia. She really perked up when we would bring our Pomeranian, Shadow, to visit her. She has had a birthday party at the Nursing home each year on June 11th.

This picture was taken of her at her 108th birthday party, just 18 days before she was called home by the Lord as she was sleeping, peacefully.

I know I will see her again some day in Heaven. I hope that you have the assurance of your own salvation and know in your heart that you, too, will see her one day.