The first time I met Emma she was 90 years old. She was a lovely woman with a ready smile and silky white hair. She was a short but stout woman, and like most women of the mountains, she had done her share of hard work. She was witty, a little mischievous, smart and loving.
Having been born in 1896, Emma saw many changes in her lifetime. She never learned how to drive a car, never flew in an airplane, never saw a movie in a theater and never worked outside the home. Her life evolved around her husband and her children and the small farm where they lived.
She married in 1921 and had 9 children. The youngest, a boy, died the same day he was born. Her grandchildren remember visiting her and Emma hurrying to the kitchen to whip up some lunch and having a spread of delicious food ready in no time. They were especially fond of her biscuits, soft and fluffy, just ready for her homemade butter or jellies.
She was hardly ever idle. If she wasn’t busy in the kitchen, she was busy in her garden, producing a huge bounty and canning it. She did this for many years until her health limited her. She sewed quilts in the winter, mended, ironed, tended beautiful flowers and even milked a cows while her husband was still alive.
When Emma was a young mother, she started having problems with her back. Eventually she had to have extensive back surgery. This resulted in her wearing a heavy stiff back brace. However she never let it slow her down. In fact, one of her small grandchildren commented once when he gave her a hug about the hardness of Grandma Emma’s back. She just smiled at him and replied, “yes, it is hard, isn’t it?” She never let on that she even had a back brace. She never complained or sat down and had a pity party. Emma continued her work being a mother and a helpmate to her farmer husband.
Emma was well respected by her children and grandchildren. She never had to raise her voice to get her grandchildren to do what she asked. They were not afraid of her; they just didn’t want to disappoint her with misbehaving or not minding her.
In her later years, Emma developed macular degeneration, which affected her eyesight to the point where she could hardly see. Even though her body was failing, her mind stayed sharp. In April, 1994, Emma passed away from congestive heart failure. She was almost 98.
Her legacy lives on through her 18 grandchildren and many great and great-great grandchildren. Several are named after her, many look like her. Most have her traits of determination, wit and patience.