When I was born, I had 8 total grandmas, including three great-great-grandmas. I also had one bonus grandma, Aunt Mae, who was my Grandma Helen’s aunt . I don’t remember two of my great-great-grandmas, Great Grandma Harris on my dad’s side (Grandma Helen’s maternal Grandma), and Great Grandma Yount on my mom’s side (Grandmother’s maternal grandma). They both passed away before I was even in Kindergarten. Eventually, Grandmother had us call her that so she would have a different name than everyone else.
Great Grandma Wright, Erma Gibbs Wright, (Grandmother’s paternal grandma) was a faithful woman. I remember visiting her in her house in Mound City, Missouri, and then in the nursing home. Uncle Bob lived with her, and then went to the nursing home with her. She is the only family member who had breast cancer. We had several family reunions around her birthday in August. I believe that she was 96 when she passed away, and I was in 3rd grade. Knowing my memories of her gives me hope that Brynna will remember Grandmother.
Grandma Freeman (Grandfather’s mom) Alta Mae (Ramsey) Freeman I called the “Old Bear.” Apparently, that is what I thought she sounded like when she snored. She was a schoolteacher. I definitely remember visiting them in Tarkio, MO. She loved purple. I have heard many stories about her, but I mostly remember her sitting in her recliner. She passed away when I was in 6th grade.
Aunt Mae, Minnie Mae (Harris) Davenport, was Grandma Helen’s aunt who helped raise her after her mother died. We all adored Aunt Mae. She was feisty, fun, and loving. She gave me my 3rd grade Bible, which I still have. She was proud that we went to church. She loved us like a grandma would. By the time I have memory, Aunt Mae lived with her daughter Carolyn. I loved visiting there because they had a fun farm and a trampoline. Carolyn’s two granddaughters were my age, so they were fun to play with too. When I was in college, I led Aunt Mae’s Memorial Service. I didn’t know if I could, but I did, and it meant a lot to me to be able to do that for my family.
Great Grandma Padgitt, Viola Faye (Asman) Padgitt, was my dad’s paternal Grandma. She was a small but strong woman. She was a faithful member of the Kellerton Christian Church. She was an excellent cook, had a large garden, and I got to spend a lot of time at her house. There was a tree swing. We had many Sunday dinners there, and her rolls were particularly delicious. I think my cousin makes them now. I always loved it when my dad’s cousins came to visit because they were my age. She was a beautiful seamstress and made me many beautiful clothes. She even made my junior prom dress. I think I was in seminary, or the end of college when she passed away. I read Scripture at her service.
Granny, Eva Cordelia (Yount) Wright, was Grandmother’s mom. I always looked forward to their visits from Texas, and we went there sometimes too. Granny made me biscuits and gravy and pies. She had the best laugh. I can still hear it plainly. She told Grandmother that she was spoiling me rotten when I was little. The last time I saw her, she met Marty. She really liked him, but she was not up for travel for our wedding. I regret that I never took my girls to meet her. You always think there will be more time. She passed away in 2017, and I led her funeral.
Grandma Helen, Helen Mae (Banks) Padgitt, was one-of-a-kind, I thought, but Brynna is so much like her. Grandma loved me unconditionally. She taught me that I could do anything if I set my mind to it. She was proud of me, and we had so much fun together. When we would stay overnight, we would pile in her bed and watch musicals. She introduced me to so many classics that I still love today. In the summer, she would have Grandpa drive us to get an ice cream cone. In winter, it was to the mini mart in town for a candy bar or chips. She was a beautiful pianist, and she would let me play for hours. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t very good, she still encouraged me. Once I could drive, my parents let me drive the 12 hours there to visit. I loved looking at photo albums with her, or old yearbooks. She had so many stories that I wish I would have written down. I have so many more questions to ask her. I love when Brynna looks as me with a Grandma expression, or when she whispers loudly like Grandma did. They only got to meet one time when Brynna was 6 months old. Either she left her imprint, or genetics are strong. Either way, what a gift! When I was in seminary, she asked me if I would lead Grandpa’s service when he passed away. I agreed, and then she asked me to lead hers. When the time came, though, I regretted saying yes. It was too hard. I was able to put on the pastor hat and do it. I felt like my grief took longer, as I was not able to experience it fully during the service. Sadly, I was not able to keep my promise to her about Grandpa’s service, because I was too weak and sick during chemo.
And now Grandmother. Carol Annette (Wright) Freeman. She was our babysitter, so I spent a lot of time with her. I remember always wanting to spend the night with her when they lived in Iowa, but I can only remember getting to a handful of times. She taught me the importance of female friendships, as Jamy and I would tag along on many “tea” dates with her friends. When they moved to Missouri, we wanted to spend as much time at their farm as possible, because they had a pool. Those were the best summers of my life. When I turned 21, we went to Gatlinburg together on a trip. She took care of me when I was sick on so many occasions. She and I took turns staying in the hospital for mom’s first cancer. She came and stayed with us after Kaley was born. So many ordinary days that she filled with love and light. Words can’t capture the special bond we have. Back in December, she told me not to be sad when her time was up because she had a wonderful life, and she was ready. But I am not minding her at all. I am broken-hearted. After Grandma Helen’s funeral, I told her that I would not lead her service when the time came. She was ok with that. I’m so glad we had that conversation, because I don’t feel like leading a service. I don’t feel like doing anything but holding my girls.
There is plenty of grief just about Grandmother, but it has brought up a lot of other grief too. Thank you for letting me share about each one of these special women. So much more to say than a brief paragraph. They all influenced me in their own way. I am grateful. And I wish I had one more day, or even one more hour, with each of them. There is never enough time.