I was not quite five years old when I stood, looking up the steps to our upstairs, yelling “Mommy hurry, Mamaw is dying.” My grandmother Ina Hinkle and aunt Maude Hinkle were in the room trying to comfort my Mamaw Mollette. Throughout the morning she had been sick. She had complained about pain and Grandma Hinkle and Aunt Maude were constantly rubbing her arms trying to comfort her.
Life was different back in that day. My dad had driven our only car to West Virginia to work his shift in the coal mine. We didn’t have a hospital in our county and Doc Ford was the lone medical doctor.
We didn’t have a paramedic unit in Martin County. Our local funeral home would take people to the hospital in their hearse but there was no medical care rendered on the way. I got that ride twice. Once, when I split my head open playing with a first cousin. The second time was after a bad car wreck while driving my first old Chevelle to high school.
We didn’t have a telephone at that time. We didn’t have a telephone until I was nine years old and then it was an eight-family party line. Thus, there was no way my mother could call for help or drive to ask for help for my Mamaw.
Racing down the steps to my plea and the calls of Grandma Hinkle and Aunt Maude, who were now calling in unison with me to my mother Eula, “Come Eula, she is dying!” As we gathered around Mamaw’s bed we stood as she breathed her last few breaths and departed her body to be with Jesus.
The words of those Saintly women standing in the room that day were “She is now with the Lord.”
My sister Wanda recalls she was a junior in high school at that time. There were semester tests that particular day at school. “Mamaw asked me not to go to school that day saying, ‘Don’t go, I’m going to die today.’” As many of us would probably reply, she said “Mamaw, you aren’t going to die. You’re going to be fine.” As we age, we know our bodies and we know when things have changed. Mamaw knew it was her last day.
When my dad came home from the coal mine, he went into Mamaw’s room where her body lay and bent over and hugged her. A little later the funeral home came for her body.
The funeral home brought her body back to our house where her casket and flowers were placed in a bedroom just off from our living room. Many family members and friends visited our house the next couple of days.
Mamaw Mollette’s husband, my grandfather Lafe, whom I never met, died about a year or so before my dad and mom married.
Looking back, I wonder how Mom and Dad were able to keep it all together. My hat is off to my dad and mom for making a place for Mamaw all those years. They worked together. Life was not always easy but it was all we knew and we did the best we could.