Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Grandma's Birthday

Standing: Everett, Ray, Ellis, Ernest (Everett and Ernest are twins.)
Seated: Edrie, Mrs. S.H. Morrell, Mildred, Vera (Picture circa 1960.)

On July 8, 1880 Mary Matilda Palmer was born in Caney Creek, Hawkins County, Tennessee.
Tildy was the first-born child of William A. and Amanda Lawson Palmer. By the time she was eighteen, Miss Palmer was teaching school beside the Clinch River in Scott County, Virginia. She walked the four miles each day from her home to the schoolhouse. It was this that Sam Morrell observed, and within his heart and vocally to his friends he said, "I'm going to marry that girl." And he was right.

They started a family with the birth of a daughter, Ava, about 1904. This child died at the age of five, but Ray was born in 1906 and my mother Vera came along in 1908. Over the next ten years the family grew by five more and the Morrells raised seven children to adulthood.

My Grandmother Morrell was a tiny woman. I am guessing based on memory and pictures from the past, that she was 4' 8'' tall, maybe 4' 9" at the most. But she was not small in spirit, courage or stamina. She, along with Grandpa, survived the vicissitudes of life and innumerable hardships to raise their family. During the Great Depression, they were residing on the high plains of Eastern Colorado. The area became part of the infamous Dust Bowl, and they rode out those years, but ultimately chose to seek a better life elsewhere. At the end of the '30s they moved to Southern California. All of their children, who were adults with families of their own by this time, moved with them, with the exception of my mother. Mother was a pastor's wife and her place was at the side of her spouse whose ministerial duties and responsibilities did not allow him the option of "pulling up stakes." Thus it was that my maternal cousins all grew up on the West Coast and I remained in Colorado. It also limited my visits with my beloved grandparents to perhaps half-dozen times prior to the death of Grandpa in 1947.

Grandma was widowed at the age of sixty-seven and she was dependent on the income from the sale of her home in Ventura. She told me when she was ninety-one, "David, I don't know what I'm going to do. I sold that house on a twenty-five year contract, thinking the income would last the rest of my life; but it pays off next year."
Grandma remained in good health and with strength and faith in her Savior she lived on her own until she was ninety-four. Unfortunately, at that time she broke a hip and was thereafter unable to care for all her needs on her own; but her eldest son took her into his home and provided her with the care she needed. She passed away at the age of ninety-eight.

In her Bible, Grandma inscribed a record of the number of times she had read it in its entirety. There was not a year in her adult lifetime in which she did not read it all at least once.
Mary Matilda Palmer Morrell 1880 - 1978 RIP
[and Happy Birthday to son Carl and grandson Bob]


Secondary Roads said...

Grandma was an awesome woman.

vanilla said...

Thanks, Chuck. I was blessed to have a heritage which stemmed from such grandparents.

Vee said...

Loved reading this account of Grandma's life!

Silver said...

So.. how is it, i wonder being a Pastor's son? Is there some kind of 'pressure'.. while you were growing up?

And grandma's account is wonderful.

Coleen said...

I loved reading about Great-Grandma. Of course, you know I barely saw her, but she still left a vivid impression in my memories.

vanilla said...

Silver: In a word, yes.
Perhaps I'll do a post on that sometime.

Vee and Coleen: We were blessed.

Shelly said...

An amazing woman. Would have loved to have known her.

vanilla said...

Shelly, "amazing" is an appropriate adjective for Grandma. I was blessed to be a part of her family.

Sharkbytes said...

Great family! I think one would not have messed with Tildy as a mother.