Not far from where I live are the remnants of an old cemetery where once stood a grand Southern plantation. The mistress of this plantation married and buried six husbands. Legend says that her husbands died under mysterious circumstances. Numerous articles have been written about Elizabeth Evans Dale and people in my small community are familiar with her story. I've lived here almost 30 years and heard the rumors and stories through the years. The old plantation apparently burned to the ground in 1968. Elizabeth was born in Worcester County, Virginia, where her father, Adam Dale, fought in the Revolution when just a teen (that is an interesting story in itself). The story of Elizabeth Dale has all the makings of a Southern Gothic novel and makes Scarlett O'Hara look like a church lady. You have numerous marriages, suspicious deaths, murder attempts, a lawsuit involving a neighboring plantation owner, a disapproving mother (Elizabeth's mother supposedly didn't approve of her daughter's many marriages); antebellum life on a plantation prior to the Civil War, etc. With the Internet and Ancestry there is a wealth of information on this lady, but the cause of her own death, like that of her many husbands, is unknown. She eventually moved to Mississippi to live with her only son. Her mother moved to Columbia, Tennessee where apparently the family also owned land. The notorious widow was listed in the 1860 census in Marshall County, Mississippi with her son, William Jeffries and his wife, Sallie, but I haven't been able to find out where she is buried.
I am constantly entertained by the things my grandchildren say. And sometimes they teach me things I didn't know that I needed to learn. I think that every grandparent feels this way.
Recently, my seven year old grandson asked me,
"Mamaw, do you ever get lonely?"
"Why do you ask that?" I said.
"Because you call my Mom all the time."
Oh boy, did I learn a lesson there!
And when my daughter picked me up for lunch one day she chose a Chinese restaurant that I had never been to before. The boys, all three of them, were well-behaved and opened their fortune cookie at the end of the meal. I read Sam's fortune cookie, which said, "You will get lucky." Lucas told Sam, "You need to give that to my Mom, because she hasn't had any good luck lately." I almost died laughing!
My younger daughter has three girls. Allie is the middle child and has to share a room. The girls wanted a fish tank for their rooms, something small. The older sister teased Allie, telling her that she would have to share a fish tank with her baby sister. Allie wasn't having any of it and put her hands on her hip, " I have to share a room. I have to share everything with her! I am not sharing a fish!"
Yesterday, when I had the day off, I took four of my grandchildren to a local Safari. First, we went to swimming lessons for my grandson. At 8:00 in the morning it was already hot. When I picked them up bright and early the little ones were still rubbing the sleep from their eyes (it is summer vacation, after all), so after the lesson ended I took them to McDonald's for breakfast. Since Mommy wasn't picking up the girls until lunch time I decided to take them to the Safari animal park. We bought food at the gate and had to be careful feeding the animals. When I took my grandson the first time he got scared at the Emu that tried to poke its long neck into the car window. The children were fascinated by the animals and were able to pet the pony, the deer and even the Zebra. I wouldn't roll down the window when the bull or the buffalo came near, however! At the end we parked the car and went to see the reptiles, the snakes (even an albino Python), and fed the tortoises. It was lots of fun and the kids are ready to go back, but not until I vacuum the car out!
I recently read an article where the local sheriff was asked what change he would make to the criminal justice system. "Put God back into the schools," was his answer.
I thought of how different things were when I was growing up.
I can remember starting each day with the Pledge of Allegiance and "My Country tis of Thee" in the 1960's.
I can remember a 3rd grade teacher, who was a devout Baptist and Sunday School teacher, who mailed me some illustrated Bible story booklets when my family moved to Oklahoma.
I remember singing Christian hymns, "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night" at a 5th grade Christmas program.
I remember helping to decorate a school bulletin board for the holidays in the 6th grade. We picked a manger scene, with Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.
I remember taking an English class in high school, called "The Bible as Literature" and reading the Psalms and the Song of Solomon, with football players, cheerleaders, student leaders, and bookworms, like myself.
As someone who didn't grow up in church, there were seeds planted along the way. It made a difference to me.
My daughter wrote this a few days ago. With two police officers in the family it makes our heart heavy to hear the headlines.
Tomorrow morning, my husband's alarm will go off at 4:15 am. So will mine in order to make sure he gets up. I'll go back to sleep, but only half way as I hear him get ready for work. I'll hear the Velcro on his bullet proof vest get readjusted, I'll hear the sound of the belt keepers as he puts them on, I'll hear him lift his foot on the foot board to tie up his boots, and finally, I'll hear the front door close, after he tells me bye, I'll see you after awhile, call me later. Never in our 14 years of being together have I been more scared of him walking out that door. Never in our 14 years have I thought someone would not only want to take his life, but the life of his co-workers. Never in our 14 years have I ever, EVER, thought I'd have to explain to my three daughters that daddy's job is truly, truly scary, and there is pure evil out there. It's more than catching bad guys. It's more than giving people tickets. It's more than assisting in an unattended death investigation. But he goes...he goes to work every day with no less determination and loyalty to serve this community. He goes to work, knowing damn well, there are people out there who hate him. Who hate what he does. Who doesn't give a rat's behind he has a wife and three beautiful daughters at home. He goes without hesitation. He goes and does a job that many others wouldn't think of ever, EVER doing. And for that, I am proud. And for that, I love him.
I had the fortune to see a presentation by Michael Durant, the pilot who survived his downed Black Hawk helicopter during the Mogadishu attack in 1993. You may remember the movie, "Black Hawk Down" which tells that story. Durant was the only survivor from his crew and was held captive for 11 days until he was finally released. He has written a book, "In the Company of Heroes" and serves as a consultant to the military. He is married and the father of six children. He is a hero in my book.