greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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the few things I know

So, it was my intention to write something here about my grandmother, not quite a eulogy, but something. Something short. And I've been running the words through my mind now for days. I can't quite find the right thing to say, which leads me to believe that there is no right thing to be said. I'll say this, instead.

It's true, and that's close enough.

My grandmother was born Mary Elizabeth Satterfield on May 27th, 1914, to Will and Sarah Dovie Satterfield, either in Birmingham or somewhere in Winston County, Alabama (I'm still trying to find out which). One month later, on June 28th, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo, which is relevant if only because it changed the course of her life, as it would change the course of the entire world. My grandmother had no sisters, but she did have three brothers, Alfred, Lawrence, and William. I've only ever met Alfred. Lawrence died some time ago, and William was killed when he was only twelve years old. He was struck by an automobile, which must have been a fairly odd way to die way back then and in rural Alabama. My grandmother attended school through the eleventh grade, when her family no longer had money to pay for her textbooks. Her parents were too proud to accept charity that would have paid for the books, so she left school. She married my grandfather, Gordy Monroe Ramey, when she was nineteen years old. That would have been 1933, I suppose. That was the year that Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and F.D.R. became the 32nd US president. She would have three daughters — my Aunt Joanne (Sarah Joanne Ramey), who was born in 1934; my mother (Susan Elizabeth Ramey), who was born in 1944; and my Aunt Pat (Patricia Anne Ramey), who was born in 1947. She would eventually have seven grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and a great grandson. Her husband died in January 1977, when I was only twelve. She never left the southeastern US, traveling only as far west as Louisiana, as far south as Florida, perhaps as far north as Kentucky; during the last twenty-eight years of her life, she didn't leave Alabama. She lived through the world wars, Korea, Vietnam, etc. She read a lot and had a fondness for (and vast knowledge of) British history. She was Catholic, but she stopped attending mass after an argument with the local priest (I think that was in the '60s). She remained religious, though her brand of Catholicism incorporated some distinctly non-Catholic concepts, such as reincarnation.

When I was a child, she taught me about fossils and which snakes were poisonous and how to find sassafras and watercress. She taught me how not to get lost in the woods, and which things I should be afraid of, and which things wouldn't hurt me. She encouraged my reading and bought me many books, some of which I still own. She tried her hand at painting, though she was much better at embroidery, needlepoint, knitting, and, especially, quilting. She was an amazing quilter. She smoked heavily most of her life. She was once an avid collector of antique bottles, and one of my earliest memories is her taking me out to the Birmingham City Dump to dig for bottles. We had hard-boiled eggs wrapped in wax paper for lunch. We used to play board games — Sorry, Scrabble, Parcheesi, Trivial Pursuit, Yahtzi, and so forth. She did a lot of crossword puzzles. She was fond of Charley Pride, Bob Dylan, and Luciano Pavarotti. She believed in ghosts and claimed to have experienced many hauntings. She did not approve of the profanity at the end of Gone With the Wind or, for that matter, the profanity in my novels, which is not to say she wasn't prone to cursing. She could use a gun.

This is how I remember her. Others will remember her differently, I'm sure.

Towards the end of her life, after all those ninety years, she suffered dementia, but during a lucid moment, she spoke of me to my mother. She said that my ways might not be like their ways, but they were my ways, and, she said, I was the smartest one of them all, of my family. I don't believe that last part, but I am unashamedly proud that she did. This photograph, which my mother gave me Monday night, was taken shortly after my grandmother married my grandfather. They are both so young that it amazes me.

I've gone back to work. Moving on, which is what she would have told us all to do.


The phorum is back up. Spooky and I are beginning a new round of eBay auctions, to pay for the $100 Emory Library membership fee. This auction is specifically for those wishing to use "buy-it-now," not for bidding, please. I finally have DSL again, which is making my life just a little bit less frustrating. And I'll things to say about Daughter of Hounds later on...
Tags: grandma ramey

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