Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grandma Doris

Left to right: Doris Mae Hill, sister Evelyn

Doris Mae Hill, piano recital day, age 12

Left to right: Ruth Marshall, John Marshall, Doris Marshall, Charles Marshall, Sr.
Front row: John Marshall II, Rebekah Marshall
May 1981, John II's baptism day (no, that's not a straight jacket, ha ha!)

Doris Marshall, February 2009

"When Charles brought Doris home, he brought dignity to the Marshall family."

So said my grandfather's sister. My Grandma Doris Marshall (dad's mom) is a dignified lady for sure. I have never seen her temper flare, never seen her overreact to any situation. I have seen her cry only once -- standing in the front yard of our home in St. Louis as we were preparing to load the UHaul truck and move away from them to Fort Smith, Arkansas, she threw her arms around me and said her goodbyes.

Grandma was born in California but moved to the deep South soon after. Her father served in both World Wars, and her mother was a schoolteacher. The Hill family was very well-respected in the community. My grandpa saw her for the first time at the church where her father pastored. Doris was 15 years old at the time, and the church accompanist. Charles was several years older, and a marine. They eloped within a few weeks.

Many years into the future, when my great-grandmother was in a nursing home, Charles thanked her for giving her daughter to him, as she had been a wonderful wife. Great-grandma perked up and said with great enthusiasm, "I didn't GIVE her to you. You TOOK her!" Wow. Even though Doris' parents and Charles had fine relations throughout their married life, I guess some deep wounds never fully heal, do they?

Grandma was a schoolteacher, but her education career ended abruptly one day. While grandma was writing on a chalkboard with her back to the class, a boy quickly pulled the window shade so it sounded as if a gun had just fired. He jumped in the air, grabbed his chest, and fell to the floor screaming he'd been shot. Grandma ran to him. The boy sat up, laughing. She walked out of the classroom and never returned.

Those of you who are schoolteachers will appreciate that story! (I used to be one)

Grandma Doris' first child, Esther, is blind in one eye and deaf. Dad remembers his mother, still such a child herself, spending hours at the kitchen table teaching Esther to speak by placing Esther's hand over her throat while Doris made sounds, then moving Esther's hands to her own throat to imitate. Esther often shares that her friends in the deaf community are very envious of her speaking abilities. Thank you, grandma, for being diligent with your special needs daughter.

Then, of course, she raised dad. And I'd say he turned out pretty great, wouldn't you?

My Uncle Charles was sibling #3, and he is about as godly a man as I have ever known.

Happy Mother's Day, grandma. May we all strive to be like you.

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