My Beloved Daughter,
The first entry for this legacy blog will be to discuss my paternal grandparents. James Wesley Davis (lovingly called Wes by his friends) married Pauline Wright on December 4, 1934. Unlike so many marriages that you see today, theirs lasted. They were married up until Grandma died in her nursing home in 1999. The funeral, attended by your mother and me when we were still engaged, was a very sad affair. Grandpa Wes was inconsolable. Grandma had been his whole life for nearly sixty-five years. What was the secret to the longevity of their marriage? One could say that divorce was simply not an option in those days. But that wasn’t always the case, as we’ll see next week when we discuss my maternal grandparents. No, I truly think that their dynamic was the absolute truth of the “opposites attracting” ideal.
Grandpa Wes was a jokester. He was playful and fun. I can remember him wrestling with the grandkids on the floor. He told me that we weren’t having Christmas one year because the Canadian military had shot Santa Clause down over Toronto. He added the letter R to words that nobody ever thought would have it. I can’t tell you how many times I ate “tarcos” with your Grandpa Chuck’s parents.
Grandma was the stereotypical proper southern lady. Her hobbies included crocheting and reading romance novels in her soft rocking chair, as well as cooking some of the greatest southern food I can remember. She made homemade dill pickles and I am firmly convinced that your love of that particular treat came from her. Granted, her pickles were extremely spicy but I enjoyed them.
I don’t remember Grandma Davis being particularly affectionate. If I wanted a kiss, she would turn her cheek to me and allow me to give her one. That was it. Then Grandpa would tell me to come sit on his lap while he tried in vain to tickle me (as you know, I’m not ticklish). That’s not to say that Grandma didn’t love us. She just showed her love differently that Grandpa.
Nowadays, we have internet dating that will attempt to match you to your “perfect” match. In the 1930s, dating services of any type simply didn’t exist. Grandma told me that she and Grandpa met in a small church (I don’t recall where it was, though they did marry in Arkansas, so I figure that the church was there). She told me that he bugged her incessantly until she agreed to go on a date with him. The rest was history.
Though Grandpa was a certified welder, I always remember him being a farmer. They had eleven children, with two of them sadly dying as infants. This large family was really a necessity for farming at that time. The boys worked in the fields when not in school and the girls helped Grandma in the house. Your Grandpa Chuck and his siblings grew to adore their parents.
For more than six decades, your great-grandparents enjoyed a close and loving marriage that stood the tests of time. Grandpa’s sense of humor seemed to vex his more serious wife but there was never, to my knowledge, any discussion of divorce. When I compare the two of them to the marriage that I had with your mother, I notice one startling thing. Grandma and Grandpa were polar opposites. Your mother and I were most assuredly not.
Grandma fell and hit her head in her nursing home in 1999 causing her brain to bleed. It was this that took her from us. I remember this because the Pope was visiting St. Louis at the time. We went to Kennett for the funeral. While we mourned for our Matriarch, our grief could never have matched what we saw in Grandpa Wes. He had lost his love, his partner . . . his best friend for over sixty years.
He lived for another four years after her. Your mother was pregnant with you when he passed. Grandpa Chuck’s health was so bad by this time that he couldn’t go to the funeral. My cousin, Kim, gave the eulogy about Grandpa’s legendary sense of humor. She put together a scrapbook with copies of marriage licenses and very old photos. My dad and each of his living siblings got a copy of this scrapbook. When Grandpa Chuck died in 2006, Grandma Pat gave me the scrapbook. Someday, you’ll have it. Keep it safe, as it is a priceless treasure.