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My Grandmother Inspired Me
She Inspired Me
She Inspired Me
This is my grandmother, Nova Berry. This picture was taken just after she turned 99 years old and just before she passed away. When I was little I just knew she was a wonderful grandma who made the world's best chocolate pies. It wasn't until I was much older that I learned how special she really was.
My grandmother and her family were a lot like mine was when I was little. They moved around a lot. It wasn't until she was in her early thirties that her family got there first car, so most of their moving was done with a team of horses and a wagon.
When she was fourteen she took a teacher's test. She taught for a few years - some of the students were older than she was. I saw the test she took - I can't believe what it took to become a teacher back then! When she taught, the rule was that if you were female you could not be married, so when she became engaged to my grandfather, she gave up teaching to become a farm wife.
The story she told about how she met my grandfather was really kind of funny. She and her father were going somewhere with the horse and wagon. The came to a gate and had to stop to open it. About that same time, a tall, lanky young man with a big black cowboy hat came up to the gate. He quietly helped them with the gate and rode off - as my grandma said - into the sunset. My grandma turned to her dad and said "There goes the man I am going to marry!" Her dad asked "What if he is already married?" She answered, "Well then, she better watch out and get out of the way, because I am going to marry that man!" As luck would have it, there was a dance at the church that next weekend and both of them attended. Grandma found out that he was not taken and they began dating. Less than a year later they were married.
After being married for a few months, Grandma gave birth to their first child - Maxine Nova. A year later, their first son Eugene Clayton was born. When Maxine was two, she and Eugene came down with scarlet fever. The fever got so high that she was rushed into the doctor. The doctor wanted her to cool off, so he immersed her into a tub of ice. Unfortunately, the ice brought the temperature down too quickly and she died.
After grieving for awhile, their third child, another son, was born. David Lee. Soon Oscar Jefferson came. OJ, as he was known, was born prematurely. This left him with brain damage. Later in life, he would be institutionalized. Several years later, Jerry Wayne was born. Grandma thought she was done having children, but two years later she gave birth to her sixth child, a daughter, my mom.
When my mom was six years old, my grandfather passed away. He was working out in the field and collapsed. It was thought that he had a heart attack, but he died before they could find out for sure. So at the age of 48, my grandmother had five children to raise alone. That year, she and the children brought in the cotton crop that my grandfather had put in. It was tough, but with the help of some men from town, they got it done. Of course, the money from the crop didn't last long. Grandma couldn't afford to keep everyone together, so she sent her youngest two children to live with her sister and brother-in-law and sent OJ to live in a mental institution. The older two boys had joined the army and were on their own.
Grandma went to work in a dress factory to make some money for her family. After a few years, she was able to get her two younger children back. They soon moved to Kansas to be with her older sons. They had settled there working at the aircraft plants. Her youngest son, Jerry Wayne was drafted into the army and went off to Vietnam. Her daughter met and married a man and moved away. Grandma was on her own for the first time in her life.
Through all of her ordeals, Grandma had a strong belief in God. She always felt that everything happened for a reason, and God knew that reason. She felt that if she believed, things would go her way. Nothing could take that faith away.
After many years, Grandma was no longer able to live on her own. Although she was very healthy, she began forgetting things. It never got real bad, but one day she forgot that she had a pie cooking in the oven. It started a small fire and it scared her and my mom. My mom moved Grandma in with her. Soon, Jerry Wayne moved in, as well. He was beginning to have early signs of COPD. My mom took care of both of them.
My grandmother lived with my mom for more than ten years. The year she approached her 99th birthday, she began feeling lonely. All of her friends, and four of her children had passed away. She was the only one left of her siblings. She was ready to join them. One morning, she called my mom into her room. She told my mom she was ready to go "home." She raised her arms toward Heaven and died. Peacefully, closed her eyes and died.
My grandmother was my inspiration. She made it through more than 50 years of life on her own. Raised five children successfully. Worked in a time when women didn't work. She was a teacher. She was an awesome lady, and I want to be just like her!