I have decided to accept the challenge of Amy Johnson Crow over at No Story Too Small blog. Amy challenges us: 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks. I think this is an excellent challenge as I tend to focus on my brick walls, and this will force me to fan out in my tree and focus on other ancestors.
Please meet my maternal grandmother, Mary Virginia (Ball) Parks. Week seven, and my seventh post in the challenge.
This post will be very hard for me to do because I was so close to my grandmother. She was everything to me and so I will tell you about some memories I have of her, and not get so much into the technical side of where she was on what census and so on and so forth.
Most of what I learned, I learned from my grandmother. Early on, until I was a teenager, she was “Nonnie”. Nonnie and Daddy-O. What great names for grandparents. I wish I knew why or how we started calling them that, but we just did. I wrote about Daddy-O last week on 52 Ancestors – #6 William John Parks so I figured I might as well go ahead and write about her and get it over with.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to tell you all about my Nonnie, but boy is it hard, it’s still so close to my heart. I still miss her like she passed away yesterday, I don’t think it will ever get easier.
First I will tell you some factual stuff, just to tell where she came from. She was born on May 24, 1913 to Bye Ball and Wevie Henri (Anderson) Ball. My mother put in her obituary that she was born in Bowie Co., Texas but I was able to find her birth certificate and found that she was actually born in Forth Worth, Tarrant Co., Texas.
It always pays to search out information you think you know! When I went and visited cousin Karen (Ball) Cowan, she had a photo album from when Bye and Wevie lived in Fort Worth, and this is the earliest picture I have of my Nonnie.
That’s Nonnie in the middle held by her mother Wevie, Aunt Dorothy is on the right, and their cousin William Norman is on the left.
Then I have this picture, and I love this picture. This is the same children, being held by their grandfather, John Edward Anderson.
There’s Nonnie in the middle, and yes! It does look like Uncle Son is wearing a dress, but that’s what they did back then. My grandmother told me so great stories from her childhood. She was also a Ball, which means she was very hot-headed, and so one time I remember when the movie Titanic came out and she and I were talking and my dumb self says, “Nonnie, where were you when the Titanic Sank?”
Big Mistake. Big. Huge.
She started ranting and raving, and said to me “Well, my word! Just how old do you think I am? I wasn’t even born yet!” And she was right! The Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912 and she was born a little over a year later. I did make sure and point that out!
I mean, Hey! My bad! I figured if you were around when you still rode in a horse a buggy, you might have been around when the Titanic sank, but it just wasn’t so. She did tell me that when they got their first car, if it was cold outside, they would heat bricks in the stove and put them in a pan in the floorboard to help keep them warm on the way to church.
She also told me that she spent one whole day hiding up in a tree because she skipped school and she was afraid of her Dad, and she watched him running around hollering for her all day. She said she got the whipping of her life that night when she finally came down.
This is my grandmother on the street in New Boston. I love this picture, boy does the town not show the time period or what!
Soon after she married Daddy-O, they had my mother. I also love this picture. This was at the grand canyon on a trip they took.
In this photo, Nonnie is in the back standing next to her father Bye, and Aunt Dorothy is on the front standing next to their mother, Wevie.
Now, I know Nonnie and Aunt Dorothy loved each other, BUT!! They fought like cats and dogs!! Even up until the end. They would squabble every time they were around each other, and if I asked Nonnie about it, I was done for! She had no clue what I was talking about, they didn’t squabble and she loved her sister!
This is Nonnie with her brother, known to me as Uncle Son, with his wife Aunt Melba.
I don’t know how Uncle Son made it out without permanent damage from Aunt Dorothy and Nonnie. She told me they were pretty mean to him at times. Oh! Remember I mentioned before about Nonnie and Aunt Dorothy squabbling? Well, when Uncle Son died we were all at his house for visitation and I will never forget this! It was 1989 and I was going to a technical college and had a brand new mustang gt car, which Mother and I drove to Texarkana to go to Uncle Son’s funeral. I parked my car, across the street a couple of cars away from Uncle Son and Aunt Melba’s driveway. Well, Nonnie and Aunt Dorothy decided we were all going to the funeral home together for visitation and we would ride with her. She was parked in their driveway, and when she barreled out of there, she backed right into a car parked there. I said to Mom, “Thank God I didn’t park there.” Nonnie, lit into Aunt Dorothy and they spoke words to each other all the way to the funeral home. Things like “Blind as Bat”, “Drive like a Drunk”, “Always talking, shut up and let me drive” and so on.
The visitation was very sad and every one was on edge because of the fiasco with the car. Aunt Dorothy and Nonnie, were crying and we all got back in the car, and well, I should point out that they were doing road work on the road in front of the funeral home and there were orange cones everywhere. They were fixing a drainage ditch right next to the exit of the funeral home, and it was a big hole. I mean big! When we pulled out of there, Aunt Dorothy, cut the corner and dropped the back right well right down in the hole. Nonnie drew in a breathe and was just about to blow it out and start in, and Aunt Dorothy gripped that wheel, looked over at Nonnie and said, “For once in your life Mary, keep your damn mouth shut!” Believe it not, she did! She shut her mouth and never said one word to Aunt Dorothy about dropping that tire down in the hole. We had to pull over and remove an orange cone from under the car before we arrived back at Uncle Son’s and Aunt Melba’s house.
For the rest of my life though, every time Nonnie would tell me Aunt Dorothy was coming for a visit, she would say, “If she makes it here alive, they really out to take her driver’s license away from her.”
She had no room to talk!! Her driving skills were less than to be desired. She drove her orange Thunderbird (I found this picture, it looks just like her car) like a bat out of hell, blaring Eddie Rabbit (I love a Rainy Night – I still know all the words to this song and Driving My Life Away) while she played his 8 track (remember those people?) in her car and thought the speed limit through Indian Head Lake of 25 mph was utterly ridiculous. She said you could go clear across town in 10 minutes, and it takes 30 minutes to get through the neighborhood. She took out several signs, and there were times I would literally ride on the floorboard when I was with her. She did eventually quit driving though. I think Aunt Dorothy stuck it out for a very long time driving.
I would like to tell you all about how sweet my Aunt Dorothy really was, and so was Uncle Son and Aunt Melba, but I’ll save that for another time. Boy, did I love them though. I still miss them.
Before my grandfather died, we would go for visits to their house, and they would come for visits to our house. This was at their apartment in Texarkana. Four generations!
Nonnie worked for the Collom and Carney Clinic in Texarkana for thirty years as a receptionist. I found these photos of her at the clinic, celebrating her birthday, May of 1973.
This is John, Poo and myself about 1977, not long before Daddy-O died.
When Daddy-O died in 1978, she was changed forever. They had been so active, traveling and fishing and just living life. She came to live with us and it seemed her spirit died when he did. At first she and I shared a room, but then Mom and Dad built her a room on to the house and it was like her own little apartment. She had everything but a kitchen. She took us kids everywhere we needed to go. She did the laundry for Mom while they were at work, and she cooked dinner every night and Mom and I would clean the dishes. She moved through life, but she never embraced it like she did when Daddy-O was alive. Aunt Dorothy would beg her to join some clubs and make some friends, but she never would. Aunt Dorothy begged her to come and stay with her (they probably would have killed each other), and she wouldn’t. Ladies from the neighborhood would come and offer to take her to lunch or out to a movie, and she just wouldn’t go.
From the time she moved in, I literally thought she would die any minute because she told me so. Consistently! She’d say, “Now that Bill is gone, it won’t be long before my time is up. I’ve got these stomach problems you know?!” At first, I believed her but as the years wore on, I began to really realize how much she truly missed Daddy-O. He was the love of her life and she didn’t mind telling you so. “I just want to be with Bill!” She’d say.
Now, every family is not perfect and we had our moments, she and I. John was by all means her favorite. It didn’t matter what he did to me, if I went and told her she took his side.
In this picture, I don’t have a clue what was wrong, but I’ll bet you some money, John either pinched me, pulled me, poked me, pinned me down and farted on my head, kicked me for no reason or drug me across the carpet to see how many rug burns he could give me. He’s probably trying to get my eye to tell me to “Shut up and say nothing or you will pay later!” and Nonnie is probably saying, “Well, what did you do to make him do that? You know it was probably just an accident.” I have no clue what Mom was happy about, but it appears I wasn’t. That was a typical day for me until John decided to quit torturing me.
He was probably hugging up to her right then thanking her for taking his side! LOL
One particular day, I went and told her that John was being mean to me, and she of course took his side. I screamed at her, “I’m sick of this and I’m going to run away!” and she was standing at the kitchen counter preparing supper, and she turned to me and said, “Do you want me to help you pack?” I told her “No, Thanks!!” I stormed up to my room, packed up my little red suitcase (with a doll and one pair of pants I think) and walked right past her in the kitchen with my suitcase. She never said a word. I got to the back door and yelled “Bye!!!!!” and she still didn’t say anything.
Out into the snow I went.
I walked all the way from our house at the back of Indian Head to the 7-11 that used to be right at the entrance of Indian Head Lake Estates. This was about 1 1/2 miles. The further from home I got, and the closer to the store I got, I kept telling myself, when I get there, I’m going to beg for a dime and call my Mom! I was cold and tired!
Back home, panic was in full swing when Nonnie realized I was really gone but she wouldn’t drive in the snow, so Mom and Dad were on their way home from work (and madder than a wet hen), when a neighbor saw me and picked me up and took me home. When Mom and Dad got home, I got one of the two whippings I ever got from my Dad. I guess I deserved it, but man, at the time, I thought Nonnie did too! She did feel guilty though, and after that, she treated me a lot more fairly than she had and man I grew to love her so much.
She was steadfast!! She was always there, no matter what. If I was sick, she was there rubbing my head and soothing me. If I needed something, she made sure I had it. She sat for hours every summer in a lawn chair underneath a tree at the Indian Head swimming pool so I could swim. She took me to every Dr. visit I ever went to, she loved my friends and she loved us.
Most of my teenage friends will remember Nonnie like this. Right before I got out of high school, we started calling her Poo, and that’s what she was called up until she died.
When her health began to decline, she decided to move to an assisted living center where she seemed to thrive. She started making friends, went to church and went to the dances they had and all of the activities. She was my old Nonnie again! I loved seeing her happy again.
We were lucky in that she got to know all of her great-grandchildren. This picture is of Jonathan, Justin, Poo, and William, with her holding my little Knucklehead. She considered Dad’s children from his first marriage hers too, and when asked about her family, she always proudly listed them out like they were her own blood grandchildren.
We celebrated her 90th birthday with her.
We took care of our Poo, just like she had us for so many years. We visited her often, although she was very happy, she was always happiest when we all came for a visit. Although Knucklehead would have been much happier if he could have kept showing Poo his cartwheels this day instead of posing for a picture.
Aunt Dorothy came for a visit in 2005, and it was a hard trip for her to make and I remember when she left Poo looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, that is the last time I will ever see my sister, and she was right. Aunt Dorothy passed in 2006 and this really was the last time they got to see each other.
This was the last photo we ever took of Poo, she was almost blind when she passed away. She fought glaucoma most of her life. She loved to read and read books all the time and it was a very sad day for her when she could no longer read.
Addie, myself and family friend Ashley were privileged to be with her when she passed away on November 29, 2007. We had the hospice priest come and read her the last rites, and I played “What a Wonderful World” by Luis Armstrong, one of her favorite songs on my iPhone which I laid on the pillow next to her ear. I couldn’t talk, and I had so much I wanted to say to her.
I called Addie out in the hall, and asked her to please tell my grandma to let go and go home to Daddy-O and our Lord. I asked her to tell her we loved her and we would see her again one day at the pearly gates. With the music playing, and Addie talking to her, with both of us holding her hands, she passed on. She took her last breath and was finally reunited with the love of her life.
She was buried in East Memorial Gardens, in Texarkana next to Daddy-O. I go and leave her flowers every time I visit the area. There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her.
I would have to say, she was one of the greatest loves of my life.
I miss you Poo!
This is how I descend from my Poo.