My grandmother (Mom-maw), Myrtle Elizabeth Smith, died early this morning, joining her husband, Clair Shadwell Smith, who died in January. She was 89 years old. Yesterday was their 67th wedding anniversary. They married right after he returned from World War II. For 67 years they were barely ever apart, and these past six months probably represent the largest amount of time they have been separated in nearly seven decades.
Mom-maw is a wonderful woman, a woman who lived her life in service to her family. It is hard to think of her as distinct from Papaw, because to me they just went together. But she is without doubt a unique person. She is funny, with a dry sense of humor that often has a hint of mischief. (I consider that part of my inheritance from her.) She always had a great memory, at least until very recently. She was famous for being able to remember everyone’s birthday in her family, down to the multitude of great grandkids. In her younger days she swam across the Kanawah river, a feat that always amazed me as a child. It was so wide! But she made it across. She made the best kale anyone has ever eaten. Her meals were always amazing, and she always made plenty and welcomed all extras. She loves God, was a committed Christian all her years. She loved to watch Charles Stanley and Billy Graham. I think I found out who Billy Graham was by seeing his name on numerous books around her home.
She always made me feel welcome and special. Her home was a place for adventure, amazing food, safety, security, and unconditional love. She loved to serve others, and dedicated years to caring for elderly relatives. Some of my earliest memories are of her “nursing” Aunt Hessie in her declining years. This was deep self-sacrifice and sort of defined that concept for me as a child.
If it were not for her, there would be a gigantic hole in our family. She has been a gift from God to us. Life is unimaginable without her having been here.
She loves daisies. I remember roaming the hollers and hills as a boy, returning with a fistful of yellow-eyed blooms, offering them to her in delight. I always felt as though she were very pleased with me. That never changed.
I am, with great gratitude to God, very pleased with her. And though we will miss her while we’re a part, it is better that she has crossed another river, racing on to be reunited with her husband of so many years.
See you soon, Mom-maw. I love you and am so thankful for you.
Image of Daisies by River by Bruce Fingerhood