Friday, October 25, 2013





This story was written down when Tawa came to visit us at our house in Indianapolis, in October, 2007.   She arrived on Saturday, October 20, and we had a wonderful time talking and laughing and going to Goodwill (three as I remember).  We went looking at the beautiful autumn displays which seemed to have waited just for her---October 20 is usually peak day of the season, but everything was delayed a bit that year, due to the long dry Summer.


          She traveled on several service calls with Chris, we all went to see the Dalai Lama at IU, and she and I went several places together, but mostly we sat with our coffee and talked.  We talked about old times, family gatherings, who was related to whom, what ever happened to whom, where her family had lived over the years, the church her parents established, and any and everything we could think of.    


The conversation was deeply spiritual sometimes, at others frivolous with peals of laughter; it was always memorable and enjoyable.   It was exactly what I had been hoping for all the years I’ve known Tawa---some time to just be with HER, and to share in her amazing presence and self.


          On the first day of November, we two had finished lunch and were still sitting at the table.   I knew that she and GrandDaddy had known each other just a very short time before they married, and asked her if she minded telling me the story. 


          She started talking, with smiles and gestures and pauses to find just the right word.   I sat for a moment, realizing this was a moment too good not to write down, so I scooted over to the computer chair, went to a blank page in WORD, and she began again.   I typed as fast as I could manage, asking her from time to time to stop for a wee bit so I could catch up. 


          The day just flew, and she just kept telling and I just kept keying in the words, with a few tiny asides to tell of her expression or her laugh.  It was one of the most delightful days of my life, and I couldn’t wait to share it with all her family.   A few little asides, for her reactions or a question, are in italics.


          So here is the story behind it all, all our own meetings and marryings, our place in the world and place in this family, all from a few months in 1944/1945, when they began their lives together and their own path so profoundly influenced ours.



During WWII I worked in a ladies’ dress shop  there in our hometown.   The shop where I worked was owned by two sisters and I was the other clerk in this shop.   Two older married women and myself---I was eighteen, a high school graduate.   So, if the other two clerks did not want to take time to follow that potential customer around to wait on her, I many times got to be “water boy”---the person who was told to do this and that.   After a time, I knew when they would just gesture, this meant get to the door.   The shop was not very big---narrow, and deep in length.  

Two weeks before Christmas, 1944, and very, very cold for Alabama.   An older lady came into the shop with a long heavy coat on and it fell Tawa’s lot to go and help her.  Back then if anyone entered the store it was expected of a clerk to go and help, even though I knew she wasn’t shopping for anything.   She was just getting in out of the cold.  

The reason she was in town was to meet the train.  Her husband was a truck farmer, and came in very early, so she had to come in early with him.  It was too cold to stay on the sidewalk, so she would go from one place of business to another to keep warm, and that’s what she was doing in our shop.  Her son was coming in on leave and his train was getting into town somewhere between 11 and noon.

The general businesses---motor companies and such, were on the other side of the railroad.   The shops were just like now.  She started at one end of the row, and worked her way down.   We were the last shop on that street, so there was not another place for her to go.

So I was the one chosen to wait on

this lady.   I approached her with

“May I help you?”  And from the very beginning, she told me that she was waiting for the train to come in; she assured me that she was not shopping, but just waiting.   In knowing that she’d be there for another fifteen minutes or so, I tried to make some conversation to let her know that she was not in the way and she started telling me about this son that was coming in for a week’s leave.  She was very proud and was telling me all

about him---high school days, Sunday School days, and everything about that little boy, almost from birth on.

She talked---mostly me listening, but I joined in enough that she didn’t have to feel like she was the only one talking.
She took a picture out of her purse
and showed me this wonderful son of hers, with all of his attributes. 
(Tiny pause for Tawa to say, “This is really our LIFE”).
So, when I looked at the picture, the first glance---as we would say today, “WOW!”   That was my first response to the picture.   It was SUCH a WOW that
I did not hand the picture right back
to her.  

I just kept looking at the picture,
 more so than if it had been in person, because I wouldn’t have looked someone in the face like that for any length
of time.   I really examined that picture---I looked at the chin, the eyes, the way he was wearing that
sailor cap.  Somewhere in the midst of this she told me that they had a daughter living in there in town, and she told me what her name was.  I said, “I know HER, because I’ve been going
by and getting their two daughters and taking them to Sunday School.” 
So there was a kind of unannounced bonding that took place between the two of us, because here was a Grandmother, and here were two granddaughters, that I thought the world of.  I thought they
were the cutest things I’d ever seen
and they lived on the same block that
we did.
And after telling the family history, she looked at her watch and
saw that it was almost time for the train---it was a Bulova; I well
remember it---I think that he had
given it to her before he left.   She had to cross the railroad track
because the station was on the
opposite side from the shops, and she had to cross before the train rolled
After she left, I was out there in the clouds.   I went back to the back of
the shop where we stayed.   We could
see the front---it was kind of a
lengthy place but no width to it.  The two girls were back there, just talking,
and I approached them.  I must have looked like I had swallowed the sunshine---I was just out there in a sunny orbit.   And I told them I’d
just seen the most handsome person I ever put my eyes on and someday I was going to meet him.  

And moire non,
At which time I hope to have mastered this cut and paste thing so that it's not all ziggy-zaggy down the margins.    

1 comment:

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Hi Rachel, I just left a comment on your last post. The gathering of family at a time of loss is such a blessing. I felt the love and admiration for a dear woman that touched so many lives. It so made me think of my mom as she was such a woman like your words that described Chris's dear mother.

This story I have read today just gave me joy in the telling. The beautiful couple's story makes me can't wait to hear more. I can 'feel' the excitement of Tawa telling you the story of how she met your granddaddy. Wonderful and so dear in every way. Hurry and tell us more.

I pray your poor stiff muscles are calming down. Traveling the 10 hours to go to see our precious grands at college and the Gator football games, gives me complete understanding of sore muscles.Yikes.

I am thankful you are home safe and sound.