Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Part of Our Family Heritage

So many times I think I've taken for granted the fact that I've known and had close relationships with all 4 of my grandparents. I certainly appreciate it more as I get older.
My children have known all but one of their great-grandparents. When I say they have known them, I mean they've had a relationship with them, and I hope they will remember them for the rest of their lives. My children have been blessed to have their great-grandparents and grandparents for funny conversations on the phone, attending their birthday parties and ballgames, sleepovers, and spending time visiting with them in their homes. Unfortunately, for my paternal grandparents, these visits have included hospitals and nursing homes in the last couple of years, but these special relationships can't be hindered by the location of the ones you love.

I read in my ParentLife magazine last night that helping your child make a connection with their heritage helps them develop a sense of who they are. (Makes sense to me.) I realize there are circumstances that don't allow some people to connect with their heritage, while others make a choice not to. It actually is hard for me to imagine the sad truth that there are so many people disconnected from their families. If you know your family's heritage, consider yourself blessed, as I do, and tell your children or family about your family history. It doesn't have to be "fancy stuff"; mine certainly isn't. My heritage includes happy,wonderful times interlaced with disappointments and struggles.

But it is who I am.
And these people are just part of my heritage.

This is my dad's father, Jeryl Banford Phillips.
He was born in 1920 and fought in France during WWII. I can't begin to imagine what he saw and experienced while serving our country. I know he spent many years of  his life after the war fighting depression and post traumatic stress disorder. He was a gentle, caring, active grandfather who loved fishing and working on motors. He helped me pick out my first car, a used red Honda Prelude, which he called a "peppy" little car. Thus, my friends and I dubbed the car "Peppy" when we were being silly and giving our cars names at 17 years of age. Papaw had 2 sisters, both are deceased. I only knew one of his sisters, Evelyn. She lived in Jackson, too. I met his other sister, but I don't remember her at all really. She always lived in another state.
Papaw died of cancer almost 3 years ago. God allowed it to be a quick process. He went into the hospital in October 2009 and died in March 2010. During that time, I drove to Jackson as much as I could with my kids so we could visit with him in the nursing home before he died. I was driving home from work the day my mother called me to tell me he was gone. I think he passed away peacefully.
This is my dad's mother, Annie Rea Wamble Phillips. She was born in 1926 and her father worked for the railroad company. The railroad company moved their family to Jackson, TN when she was a young girl. The picture below is of my Mamaw and Papaw when they married. She gave birth to 2 boys and 1 girl, just like me. My father is the oldest of her children, but their roles have reversed tremendously in the last couple of years. My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia right around the time of my grandfather's death in 2010. The dementia has progressed so that she has spent the last 1 1/2 years in a nursing home close to where we live, and we have been told she might not have much longer to live. I am praying for mercy and no suffering, and I believe that God will make her whole again soon. She has been a wonderful mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
The picture below is of my Mamaw and Papaw in the later years of their marriage. This is how my mind's eye will always picture them. (Please forgive the quality of the photo. It's a picture of a picture.)
This my Papaw in Sept. 1977. And that baby is ME--only 4 days old, I believe.

The name of this blog which, of course, is part of a Bible verse, was chosen from a scripture book that sat on my Mamaw's coffee table at my grandparents' house in Jackson, TN. I spent a lot of time there. My grandparents spent the majority of their married lives in that little house on Lesa Drive. A nice, quiet neighborhood with lots of trees and nice neighbors. Pulling up in their driveway and seeing one of them standing in the door anticipating our arrival is a memory forever etched in my mind. Even before cell phones, they somehow knew we would be there soon. If I close my eyes, I can smell their house which usually smelled of freshly brewed coffee. They were avid coffee drinkers, for sure. I don't think I inherited that gene as I have just started enjoying small amounts of coffee this past year. I have always loved the smell, though. :) I can see the rooms in their house, the furniture, the backyard and my grandfather's shop out back. They are like clear photographs in my mind. The pictures of my dad as a baby and young man hanging in the hallway, the kitchen table which now resides in my house, the wooden high chair in the kitchen that all 3 of my babies sat in at one time or another; all of these things, crystal clear in my mind's eye.
Stay with me here...I am writing this for the sake of our family yearbook, remember?:)
I knew both of my grandparents' parents. That's right, I can remember all four of them. Regina Belle (What a funny little woman who, like me, was born on Sept. 4th.) and Lyle Lilburn Phillips, my Papaw's parents. Ed Augusta and Lois Pearl Wamble, my Mamaw's parents. I can remember their houses in Jackson, TN. I remember my great-grandparents', the Wambles', house the most. I discovered my love for butterscotch discs from the candy dish that always sat on my great-grandmother's coffee table. She had polio as a child and walked with a limp. My great-grandfather Wamble had big hands and loved to watch wrestling on T.V. Both lived into their 90's, and I was an older child when they passed away. I don't have much memory of their funerals, but I think that's how it should be...Remember the living moments, not the dying ones. I am extremely blessed to have known these people and to have come from these people. People who were not perfect or famous, but good people who lived by God's standards and valued family. I could say so much more about the memories I have, and believe me, I will take advantage of moments with my children to tell them more. I will tell them what they see on this page is but a part of who they are, and that none of this would be if it weren't for God. It is as He planned it...The good, the bad, the happy, and the sad. It's all a very important part of our family heritage.

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