Saturday, March 2, 2019

Adding a New Person to the Household

My husband and I have been blessed these past two weeks to have a special guest living with us, temporarily, if she has anything to say about it. She is my mother's ninety-two year old cousin, the last of my family's greatest generation, and is taking a respite from a recent hospitalization. She is also the main character of one of my books, Called to the Mountain: The Story of Jean L. Frese. Here Lorraine is about fifty years ago, when she first joined the Salvation Army.

Adapting to living with an extra person in our home has been a challenge and a blessing both. Odd thing, the Old Testament reading for tomorrow at the church we attend, Littlejohn United Methodist, comes from Isaiah 55. Verse eight, I can relate to:

  • "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
We've adjusted, even though her ways are not always my ways. Lorraine was raised by my grandmother, who also raised my mother, so logically, many of her ways were also my mother's ways. And also a few of my ways, like doing the dishes a certain way. Like serving particular meals that, like her, I grew up also eating. 

I've enjoyed having her here and will miss her when, if things go as planned, she returns to her own home next Monday afternoon. She has entertained me with story after story of the way things were in the mountains of western North Carolina back when she first arrived from downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a new recruit to the Mountain Mission of the Salvation Army. Many of those stories she had told me before when we wrote the book of her memoirs. Others were new to me, and I admonished her for not telling them in time for publication.

She had a hard time adjusting to Appalachian/Smoky Mountain culture and speech. She had moved to a foreign land, at least she thought. She couldn't understand their ways or their thoughts. They couldn't understand hers. She said they did a lot of hand signs at first.

Like when she visited a lady in the hospital who said she couldn't wait to get home to sleep in her own tick. She asked around. Straw ticking mattresses were standard for mountain homes of the time.

Like when another lady ran to get her camera to "strike a picture" of her since she was so different.

Like when they talked about people being lawed rather than sued.

Like when they dropped the endings of their verbs and went goin, or doin, or sleepin.

Like when the went to a far, but really were going to a fire. Or a county fair.

Or like when people told her things were up air, but actually up there.

We had no issues like that. We've had a wonderful time, cousin to first cousin once removed. Age gap or not, we've had laughs and frets when her illness set her back a time or two. And when the time comes to take her home, I'll be sad. Adding this new (old) person to our household has been some fun time!

Catch of the day, 



  1. Oh I think that is wonderful that you all have gotten to spend this time together!

  2. What great stories! I think there's a book or two in there....

  3. I hoped you would write about her visit. Our ‘older’ relatives have a rich history to tell no matter where they lived or what they did for a living. It’s our family’s deep oral history that is lost. So wonderful what you and Van did for family! You both were richly blessed.

  4. Thanks, Debbie. Even though she was not in the best of health during her time here, we were able to enjoy the visit. I'm going to miss her!

  5. It's wonderful you were able to be there for her. She blessed you in return. Family is so important, especially those members who are elderly. They carry generations of stories within their hearts. You are wise to capture her stories.

    1. Thanks, Sandra. She's still here because of more health issues, but hopefully is on the long road to recovery. Her stories slacked off when she started feeling bad, but I anticipate more in the near future.