By Marda Johnson
By Raymond Snoke
— I’ve written about all of my grandparents except my Grandma Brock. It was just an unintentional error on my part. She was a hard-working lady all of her life, at least that is what I have been told. Since I was old enough to recognize her as my grandma, she did display the same hard-working attitude that I’ve heard was the way her life had always been. Theodosia, or Theo as many people referred to her, had the hard task of raising my mother during the Depression.
As I was growing up, I had no idea that my grandparents were divorced. It never occurred to me that they didn’t live together, and my Grandpa Brock was married to another women, who passed away in the early 60s. Divorce and unwed pregnancies were words that were considered taboo when it came to normal conversations in those days. My grandparents never showed any outward signs of anger or resentment toward each other. In fact, they always seemed to display mutual affection. I guess that is why I was unaware of the real situation.
I mentioned that Theo was the nickname that many called her, but actually she was most always referred to as Granny. It didn’t make any difference if you were family, friend or someone who had just been introduced to her for the first time, she would always say, “just call me Granny.”
Granny worked many different jobs over the years. She was the switchboard operator for the local phone company in Jollietville, which by the way, was the birthplace of her only child, my mother.
Grandpa and Granny also owned and operated a couple of eateries in Boone County. The job that I was first aware of would have been with Mitchell and Berry Drugstore, located on the southwest side of the square here in Lebanon. I’m not completely sure what all her duties were, but I can remember Granny running the soda fountain counter where people of all ages would congregate for a us milkshake or a soft drink that would have been spiked with vanilla, chocolate or cherry syrup. I was more of a traditionalist and slurped down on a plain old root beer or a Coke.
Once she retired, Granny began taking care of elderly couples until she was no longer able to or really needed to work. She touched many lives during her career in home health care. No, she didn’t graduate from some trade school; she went to the school of hard knocks.
Her job placements usually consisted of taking care of a husband and wife who needed anything from meals and house cleaning to nursing them as they became bedridden and eventually died. Whether it was the man or woman who passed first, Granny would take care of the one left behind till their demise or until they entered a nursing home. I think I would have preferred to have her take care of me in my own home.
Granny finally retired for good, but her working career didn’t come to a close. Whether she was living with us or staying with friends, Granny always was busy. She might be preparing the meals, washing laundry or cleaning the house. It just didn’t matter, she always needed to keep busy and have the feeling of being needed.
When Granny wanted to go somewhere, someone in the family would always be willing to take her wherever she needed to go, whether it be a doctor’s visit, shopping, or out for a meal in a restaurant. I never knew my grandma when she was driving those vicious horseless carriages. I’d been told that one night she had been driving out in the boondocks, and both of her headlights failed her at the same time. She had to navigate her way home by pure instinct and the Lord guiding her. I know Granny was a strong woman, but that experience must have truly frightened her.
My precious Granny accomplished all of the above and much, much more in her life. She had a profound effect on anyone who came into her life. She had an iron will and the strength of ten ordinary women. She never met an animal she didn’t love, but her love of animals was never more apparent than when she was near a horse. She has instilled in me the love of reading a great book and probably, without even realizing it, helped me nurture the desire to write down my thoughts.
I will always admire my grandma’s strength and will power to overcome obstacles that might have tripped up the average person. Not only did she accomplish so much during her life, but, due to a childhood illness that left her crippled, she had to learn to walk all over again.
I love you always Granny. Have a restful peace. You deserve it.
Contact Raymond Snoke at firstname.lastname@example.org.