186 years doesn’t make any difference
March 17th is my 3rd great grandmother’s birthday. She was born in 1828. Her name was Mary Ann. In 1862/63 during the Civil War, she lost her husband and three brothers to war, both her parents and her 1-year-old son to typhoid, and a host of other family members to one or the other. The total death count in the family over a one-year period was seventeen. She was 35.
In 1923, my great grandmother, Eula, lost her baby girl to pneumonia. That was the same year she lost her father and her sister, and the same year her husband was sent to prison for shooting down a man in a gunfight over a moonshine still. She was 25.
February 24, 2014, after a four-year battle, my daughter lost her fiancé to cancer. She’s 28.
Driving back and forth to the hospital, we spoke about Mary Ann and Eula and their ages during those horrific times, and she said it must be some kind of curse on the women of our family.
I don’t think so.
As her fiancé took his last breath, it was only she, I, and his mother at his bedside. As usual, it was the women who held the dying and kept the rest of the world from caving in. When Mary Ann’s brother died of typhoid, it was she who took in his children and raised them. She was a women who remained steadfast in the face of despair. When Eula’s husband was sent to prison, it was she who raised the other children and took care of the farm. She was a woman who stood strong in the eye of the storm and saw the family through.
I think the women of our family are the rocks. We are the ones who carry the weight for everyone else. There is no curse. There are only miracles, and we are the ones who perform them.
Happy birthday to our grandma Mary Ann. Thank you for teaching us to be strong.