Musings and Moods from My Home in The Land of Lincoln
Friday, December 30, 2011
Grandma Elsea Rocking and Singing to Me in 1978
(I was 19 years old and a little too big for her lap)
December 30, 1911 was a rainy day, so the doctor suggested to Florence Phelps that she and Hugh name their baby "Rainy." They politely told him that her first name was to be Clara. They did acquiesce to some extent and gave her the middle name Lorain, deviating a bit from the common spelling. And so it was on that dreary winter day in Fredonia, Kentucky that Clara Lorain Phelps was born to a tobacco farmer and his wife. They had ten children in all, but Clara was the most special to me. After she grew up to the ripe old age of 17, she got married. Then when she was 18, she had a child of her own; my father. My Grandma Elsea was one of the most loving people I have ever known. She made the best fried chicken, green beans, and coconut cream pies I have ever eaten. She had a ringer washer until I was about 7 or 8 years old, and she hung the clothes on a line to dry. The clothes line prop was a sturdy, forked tree branch. That was good enough. She worked in a factory. She filled Mason jars too numerous to count with vegetables harvested from their garden and fruits from their orchard. She didn't like antiques, though she had several in her basement. "Take any of that junk down there that you want. I've had old. I like new," she once told me after I was married and had a child of my own. She could whistle through her teeth loud enough to get Grandpa's attention when he was down at the barn. She tried to teach us how to do it, but we never mastered it the way she had. More importantly, she whistled or sang happy tunes while she worked to prepare the meals. After she lost her hearing, she sang off key. We didn't care -- it was still nice to hear it. When Grandpa would get too grouchy, she would return to her bliss by simply turning her hearing aids off. She laughed with gusto. She taught my son and nieces how to blow bubble gum bubbles. She told stories of her growing up years and the good times she had with her brothers and sisters and in-laws and friends. She was selfless. She worked hard and loved us and loved life. She was a Christian. She passed from this life in 1988, and after these 23 years, I still miss her every day. So today, Grandma, on your 100th birthday, I pray that you are sleeping in heavenly peace.