Unice Olive Amanda Comer was born on August 25, 1906 in Mercer County, West Virginia. At 19, she was married to my Grandfather whom I never knew. I’ve only seen pictures of him. He was strong. He was tall. He was handsome. Some say one of my first cousins is a spitting image of Atlas.
In 1925, she was married to whom she told me was the love of her life. She delivered a baby every two years, until the best baby was born– my Daddy. ( Yes I’m biased). He was the youngest of eleven children.
I can’t really imagine childbirth without a hospital, so I can’t really wrap my head around having eleven children in my home without modern medicine.
Tragically, when my father was five— her husband, Atlas passed of a massive heart attack. I’ve heard he just fell over and was dead. I often wonder what that pain must have felt like. He passed in the spring of 1954. Imagine the times then. No phones. No way to get in contact with her family who lived over an hour away. His family lived near them. He and his brothers all worked together.
Was she there? Who came and told her? Did she hit her knees? Did she scream to God? She was 47. Did she feel as though her life was over? I have often thought she must have done all of those things, because the one time we talked about him she spoke softly and sadly of it.
What did she do? I asked her once. I was about 14. I don’t know why I did, but we were porch sitting and she started talking about Atlas. Also, I’ve been raised in the Mormon church and I feel like I was working on some family history project. I also have this deep love for old stories. Always have—
At that time, she was struggling with strokes and in and out of the hospital.We did a lot of sitting. A lot of reading. I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie series to her. That was the show I always watched when I got off the school bus- Little House and Golden Girls. At that time, I honestly remember getting off the school bus at her house and praying she didn’t have to go back to the hospital that day. I just wanted to be with her all the time during those times. I was scared. Every time my Dad got the call to come to her house, or they had to call rescue, I knew she was sick. I was fearful of losing her, because I knew she wasn’t well. I knew she was in her 90’s and I could feel, even at my age, my time was getting shorter with her.
Back to the point of this post— Grandma had had lived almost 50 years without her spouse. Buried her husband. Raised their children. Buried some of their children. Had seen the world change. All the while, never remarrying. All the while, staying strong and steadfast in her faith.
So I asked her- “What did you do?” I don’t know if she was with him or if she wasn’t. I just know I’ve thought about it a lot as an adult. She never said that day or if she did, I didn’t write it down. But what she did say that stuck out to me at 14 was this:
I cried, but then I saw my children and I knew I had to get to work, but I cried. I cried till my eyes couldn’t cry anymore. Livvy, he was good, but God called him home and I had to keep on living.
I know all those years later maybe the sting was a little less, but when she spoke about it her eyes changed and she got quiet. No longer was the happy go lucky Grandma Scott who stuffed tootsie rolls in my pocket and laughed at the Golden Girls, but her eyes went sad. At 14, I knew of death, but not of the type of loss she had experienced.
She studied her bible every single day. I have often thought she must have found so much peace between those black and white lines during that time. When she passed, I inherited her bible and I flip through it often. I run my fingers over her notes. Her handwriting and during the difficult times in my life— I plead to God to have her strength. The difficult times in my life have come. SO many, but like she said you just gotta keep on living.
And just like her—- I’m doing that. I keep living.
She worked. She picked herself up and she worked. And her bible tells me she prayed. A WHOLE lot. What did she sacrifice? She never said. Everything was sacrificed I assume to make sure her children had exactly what they needed, because that’s the type of Mother she was.
You might wonder why a 14 year old would remember that time. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but here is more ( bear with me). I spent a lot of time with her growing up and even now I think the sun rose and sat with that woman. To me she could DO anything she wanted. She could BE anything she wanted. She had BEEN everything she wanted. At my age of 35, she is still in my top three hero list.
Did she have a fancy career? No.
Did she have a big fancy house? No.
Did she have a big fancy car? No.
But she had done and been everything anyone in this life could ever be. A dedicated wife. A loving and dedicated mother. A loving and most fun Grandma and Great Grandma. She had a firm testimony in Christ. In God. She knew and trusted the plan. She was patient. She was loving. You name it, she was it. I mean I can’t even pass a cat without thinking of her love for them and how she would feed the ones at her back door and make them roll over for their food and how we would all laugh. The ONE reason I have my cat, is because he is gray and white, just like the ones that she had.
The summer before she passed we were porch sitting. We use to always watch the traffic going down to the river. When it started getting spring-time, traffic picked up. You heard and saw some wild things. Some of her favorites lines.
Guess they are going down the river to smoke that dope.
Those kids don’t know anything about life yet.
They are going to fall right out of them jeeps on their head, then look at us and wonder how’d that happen.
I don’t know why the Law don’t run down here more.
Please remember this was Big Falls Road in McCoy, not the inner streets of New York. 😉 But it was fun to watch the traffic. Hear the trains and just be still.
I also thought please help me if I ride a Jeep to the river and fall on my head, because if I do Grandma is gonna say I told you so—- and where did that get you? Um hmm, that’s what I thought.
Even though she may have a had a soft spot for me, I’m certain she would have said that exact line.
But that summer she had been sick for the past year. Strokes. Heart issues. She was weak one day, but strong the next. We all knew it was driving her crazy that she couldn’t work in her garden. Or go out and feed the cats. Or go to church. Or go to Food Lion. So that summer, I remember porch sitting a lot. She had a lady that sat with her. Her children took turns, but for some reason I was still there a lot. I can’t tell you why, but I always wanted to go to Grandmas. It was the summer of 1998. That’s when I asked her about my Grandpa, Atlas–right there on the porch. Figured I had looked at his picture on her wall for 14 years and I wanted to know about him. So, she told me all about him. How he was strong. How he was the best looking man she had ever seen when she was 19. How it didn’t take her long to fall in love with him.
Then just like that, her eyes were sad again and this is what she told me next….
Sometimes when you get to be my age, when you get sick like me, when your heart don’t work right. Your head don’t want to work right. That’s why I call you Dena when I don’t mean to Livvy. I know you are my Livvy and she is my Dena. When you’ve done buried a husband and children, and you are my age, and you are sick, you are stuck between living and dying. But God, God he knows my plan and I trust him. So I may be stuck right here, trying to live and trying to die, but I trust him.
You might wonder why I remember this exact conversation. Why I remember the exact words she used. See I was a nerd at 14. I was a girl who “journaled” and recently I ran across my journals from when I was a silly girl. That entire summer all I did was write. And I wrote all summer long sitting on her porch.
With all this home time, If you are like me, you’ve been digging and cleaning out too. This past week, I read that written detailed conversation I had with my Grandma, Ollie that hot summer day and it all came flooding back. I remember that teal journal that had my name in gold foil on the front right hand corner. I can even remember what I was wearing. Pink shorts. White tank. I remember rubbing tanning oil on my legs so that I could catch some sun while we were porch sitting. I remember propping my feet up on her green porch ledge and leaning back in her metal green and white chairs and sipping on my kool-aid. I remember thinking I gotta get them legs tan. I remember thinking how many kids in jeeps are we gonna laugh at today. But, I was going into high school in a few weeks and I needed a tan — priorities people. 🙂 I also wrote about boys I liked. The friends I had. What my dreams were- you know 14 year naive girly really stupid stuff– but I wrote down the stories I heard to from her, my other Grandma, and my Mom too in between all the other really stupid entries.
What I remember most is her grabbing my hand after she talked about living and dying and asking me to pray with her. And I did. She prayed. And after we prayed, I felt peace. An overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be just fine. I really hadn’t remembered that moment until I read that journal entry. But it came flooding back to me in tears….. what her hand felt like. What her skin looked like. The way she sat in her chair, with her hair in a bun and in one of her dresses. The way she walked. The way she made me laugh. The way I felt love with her.
And I knew it was divine design that had ran across that journal a little over a month ago— because in the next few days I was going to need that strength to lift me—-
Like you, I’ve been reading posts about the times we are currently facing. Listening to news reports. I’ve sat in meetings that make me feel like I should never touch a solid surface again. I myself have been overwhelmed with the many changes, as has the rest of the entire world. No hugs ( gag!) What’s the point of life now? No hugs? 😉 What do you mean we can’t really go anywhere? I’m working from home now? No school? No daycare? No eating out? No social events?
So, our Wi-Fi went out on Friday. One week into telecommuting and homeschooling and I almost lost my complete mind. Like legit, L-O-S-T my complete mind. I was panicked. I was overly frustrated. My anxiety was through the roof. First day of having my 7 year old AND my 2 year old in the house, all the while working from home and the Wi-Fi went out? I mean, really??????
I was frustrated. I couldn’t work. My eldest couldn’t do her assignments. My youngest couldn’t watch Goldie and Bear. I had a conference call in 22 minutes for work and I couldn’t make a call out, because I needed Wi-Fi to run through my phone to make the call. Things were tense. I was scrambling to figure out a plan. I called my Dad to come watch the kids, but then I knew I needed to pray. A very large overwhelming feeling to pray. To get in the floor and pray with my kids. WHAT??!!! I had 22 mins, there was no time to pray. I needed a plan, and praying was not going to prepare or give me a plan.
So I sat in the living room floor and I made all of us pray. Pray for our frustrations to ease. Pray for us to find a new normal in the chaos of the world. Pray for us to know it’s okay to miss our friends and our routines. And pray for strength. Pray to know that as a Mom I can be strong. And pray for peace. Pray that our families will be kept safe.
….and just like that there was Peace. Peace in my heart. Peace in my home. Peace was back. And to my surprise, my two year old had his arms crossed and he was still as well. There was peace. Peace had been felt by all.
….and then in that moment I knew why I had to sit on that porch all those years ago in McCoy watching the college kids fly past, baking my legs that summer on the porch, sipping my kool-aid and listening to Grandma bear her testimony— because I needed that moment to teach me not then, but NOW—–
and let me tell you—- that hit home hard. That porch on Big Falls Road- with its green paint and squeaky swing will forever be apart of my heart.
in the midst of all the chaos RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW in 2020 in all of these changes. All of the frightful feelings. All of the scary things that seem to be coming our way, my way, what is in store for children, new routines,— But…. Livvy, will you hold my hand and pray?
Yes, Grandma I will.
and then there was peace.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto that you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will comfort you,” John 14: 18