Friday, January 13, 2017

Two Men

I wrote this last January, in 2016.

I waited on two men today and heard the most amazing stories. They were both ordinary working class men. They came in dirty and grimy, coming from their jobs. They came to the bank to take care of business. I could look at them and judge them for their dress or lack of business attire or dirty fingernails, but I sit behind a desk in an air-conditioned office and can go on coffee breaks and stop and chat with my co-workers. These men were laborers, working at hourly wage jobs, dirty, sweaty jobs. Who was I to judge?

The first man was applying for a loan and part of my job is to ask about prior credit history. And he told me. It was a heart attack. He was at work and started sweating profusely and experiencing chest pain. He couldn't breathe and called his brother, who told him to get to a hospital right away. A co-worker drove him to the hospital where he fell to the floor as soon as they called his name. He could hear the nurses and doctors talking.

"I think we're losing him," 'No, no', he thought, 'I'm right here. You don't understand. I'm not going anywhere.' He just felt in his gut that God wasn't finished with him yet. A few days later he walked out of the hospital and gave up smoking after 40 years of puffing away. He was so grateful to be alive, to be given another chance. After two months he was back at work, not the hard work he used to do, but simpler and easier jobs that his company delegated, but he wanted to keep working and not go on disability. After his heart attack he truly was a changed man. Little things didn't bother him anymore. He remembered to thank God everyday for his life. He was a man of gratitude.

The second man was much like the first. He was a middle-aged blue collar worker and came in at closing time because of his work schedule. He needed a car. They were a one income family and his wife stayed home to care for a handicapped son. But when he talked about his son he became excited, telling me how smart he was and all the things that he could do. Of how helpful his other children are and how God gives us our children for a purpose and even though his first child was severely handicapped, he and his wife were blessed to have more. He told me how long he and his wife had been married and how they had struggled before being able to buy a house and many more years of driving a clunker before they could afford a better vehicle. But this man, too, was grateful. Grateful for his wife and children. Grateful for God's blessings.

Two men. Humble. Hard-working. Grateful. They taught me something today.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Grandchildren Stories

I always say that grandchildren are cheap entertainment. Out of the mouths of babes come the most profound or funniest sayings.

Four of my grandchildren spent the night with me on New Year's Day. They were out of school until today, January 4th.

My eight-year old grandson, 'Luca,' loves to draw. His favorite character is Charlie Brown and Snoopy. One of his presents was the Charlie Brown book, the 1960's edition (which is the one he wanted). They have them for the other decades, as well.

On New Year's Day, after breakfast, he wanted to go to the library.

"Honey, the library is closed today because it's a holiday."

"Oh, man! I wanted to check out "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy." he replied.

"Where did you hear about that book?"

"Charlie Brown. I figured if he could read it, so could I."

Luca loves history (like his grandmother) and is also a sentimental child. Since he lived with me for almost three years, he was looking through a dresser drawer where I saved a lot of his baby items. His little blankie with the bear head wasn't there.

"Nemaw, do you know where my blankie is from when I was a baby? That was my favorite."

"No, you probably took it with you when you and Mom moved. It may be put away in a box."

"Do you think she could find it if I called her?"

"Why don't I buy you another one if it's that important to you?"

"No, it wouldn't be same. I had that from the time I was a baby."

I think the blankie is in there somewhere.

My younger granddaughter, "Mae-Mae" was looking through a picture album of her mother and aunt when they were children, Five-year Mae-Mae was asking lots of questions. She asked about her grandfather, who is in heaven, and wanted to know all about him.

When I was doing something else she brought me the album to show me a picture.

"Look, Nemaw!" "There is Grandpa standing in front of God." It was a picture of my husband taken in Crete many years ago. I have no idea where that came from, but it warmed my heart.

A picture of my husband when he went to Crete while he was in the Army.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


"Hurry up!" I tell my daughter,
 as she makes sure that all three girls are safely buckled in.
I don't want to be gone all day
It's my only day off
She has a tendency to drag her feet
and before you know it, it is dinner time
And my one day off is wasted.
We eat lunch at Phil Sandoval's
because we have a coupon for one free kid's meal
Service is slow and we munch on chips and salsa
While we wait on our order
I pick up the check and give the waiter the coupon
and save $4.99
Walking to the car I realize that my daughter and the girls
aren't following me.
Where are they?
Then I see them.
They are walking into a beauty salon
What are you doing? I ask.
The girls need haircuts.
I was irritated.
I don't why,  but I drove off .
I took a turn down a country road.
It was getting dusk and the landscape looked stark and eerie.
There were no trees to be seen,
Just flooded plains with water lapping the edge of the road.
I slowed down.
What if I got swept away and there was no one around?
Who would find me?
I  turned around to go back.
I couldn't leave my daughter stranded
and the girls should be finished with their hair cuts by now.

Anita Ashworth (c) 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

My Christmas List

(A repeat from 2011)

Dear Santa,

I am writing you early in hopes that you will receive my letter in plenty of time before your trip.
You may not remember me, the little German girl in a knitted shawl and cap, blonde hair and a couple of missing teeth. I wrote in crooked letters back then, learning my alphabet. That was about 50 years ago.
I wanted a doll, some chocolate candy, and some new mittens to keep my hands warm during the cold winters in Germany. I remember the oranges that I received, wrapped in delicate tissue paper. Oranges were rare in winter and we only had them at Christmastime.

Before I make out my list I want to thank you for the presents I received last year. The robe keeps me warm and cozy and fits perfectly. I love my fuzzy slippers! I loved my gift card to the book store. The kitchen gadgets come in handy. I truly appreciated all the pretty and thoughtful gifts I received.

I'm keeping my Christmas list simple this year. Christmas is about the kids, so don't run yourself ragged over a middle-aged woman who has everything she needs. Please, no new kitchen appliances to clutter up my already crowded cabinets. Come to think of it, I don't really need a new waffle iron. And, please, no more lotions, bath oils, or spray colognes. I am highly sensitive and besides, I already have enough lotions to satisfy the moisturizing needs of an entire nursing home!

Christmas is about the children. Please fill their stockings with a home full of love. Bring them lots of smiles and presents of overflowing joy. Give them hugs and kisses and stories to read. Bring them lots of goodies, too. And of course, honor their little lists of toys and games and dolls, but also teach them that it is good to give, as well as receive.

What I really want for Christmas is for children and adults to believe. Believe in good things, believe in the impossible, believe in hope and love. There are gifts we can give to one another that don't have to be wrapped and tied with pretty ribbons. The gift of love. The gift of forgiveness. The gift of understanding. The gift of hope. The gift of encouragement. The gift of friendship. Practical gifts wear out and break down, but the gifts of the heart are eternal. And most of all, the gift of the baby Jesus should not be forgotten amidst the tinsel and strings of lights.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

In Their Footsteps

Since my last post I have discovered more ancestors in the family tree. I found an obituary in a Tennessee newspaper from 1846 regarding a grandmother on my father's side of the family. It confirms their Irish heritage.
From the Western Weekly Review; abstracts from 1841-1851, Franklin, Tennessee.

''Eleanor Rice, widow of Samuel Rice, died in Williamson Co, Tn on Oct. 21, 1845. Born in Castlebar, Ireland, Jan. 1757, she came to the U.S. as a youthful orphan, 12 years, lived in Prince Edward County, Virginia until she married. Her husband died in 1807 leaving her with a large family of children, moved with her son, Francis Rice, to Williamson County in 1813. (Eleanor's daughter, Fanny, married Asa Harper, a Perry ancestor).

Asa, Fanny's husband, had several articles regarding his passing. Some stated that he was over 100 years old, but more than likely he was closer to 90 years old.

The picture below is of a distant cousin from my husband's family. Clementina M. Romine and her husband, Orion Holley, and three of their children. Clementina, or "Tiny", was born in 1897 and died in Huntington, W. Virginia in 1936. While walking on the side of a road she was hit by a truck and suffered fatal injuries. Her 13-year old nephew was also hit, but survived. She left a husband and ten children. She was a cousin on my father-in-law's maternal side of the family. 
I love these old black and white photos! Here is another picture of a cousin, Martha Ann Nida, and her husband, Winfield Scott Richardson. They were also from West Virginia.

One of the most interesting stories I discovered was that of a distant ancestor, Larkin Haithcock (or Heathcock) from my father's family tree.  Born in Tennessee he was with the 20th Infantry, Co D, and captured at Missionary Ridge on Nov. 25, 1863 (part of the Chattanooga battles) by the Union.. He was sent to Louisville, Kentucky and then to Rock Island Confederate Prisoner of War Camp. He died a month later, on Dec. 27, 1863 from Pneumonia. He was around 30 years old and left a widow, Sarah, who he married on Mar. 8, 1860. He is buried at the Confederate Cemetery at Rock Island where almost 2000 Confederate soldiers are buried. This is an old photo I found of some of the prisoners that were sent there.

Tennessee Back Roads

A few weeks ago my sister and her husband and I took a drive through the back roads of Tennessee. The object was to find the community that a family member's ancestors had lived in. I never expected to get lucky, but I did. There is an old general store that has been in existence for over 100 years and still operational. I talked to the owner about my Genealogy research and he pulled out an account book from the store dating back to 1914 and 1916 and had some of the ancestors' names logged in and what they purchased! Not far from the store (which sits out in the middle of no where and surrounded by old, abandoned buildings) is a cemetery where some of the ancestors are buried. The land is beautiful, with cows and horses grazing. This was once a thriving community, but the old-timers still flock to the old general store for fresh fruit pies made by the local Mennonites and homemade ice cream. Their hamburgers were pretty good, too!

The old ledger that is 100 years old.

In front of the old general store.

An old pot-bellied stove.

Abandoned buildings

The old cemetery

A country church in middle Tennessee

Gatlinburg Wedding

It is been a busy Fall. The end of October my daughter and I drove to Gatlinburg to see my nephew get married. We were there for only a short while, but managed to take a few pictures before we came home. Gatlinburg is only a four drive from where I live. Of course, hearing about the fires in the recent days is heartbreaking, as my family has so many memories from the Smokies.

The view from our hotel room.

The wedding chapel in the woods.

The tunnel going to Gatlinburg.

At Pidgeon Forge

On the way home