Today there is to be a funeral and a foot-ball game. Thereby hangs a sad tale. But before we get into that, let's go back to Armistice Day, yesterday. Which again brought our war heroes, especially our war dead and wounded, sharply into the focus of our remembrance. Eddie cantor, the comedian, bless his educated heart, has launched his sixth annual "Give-a-Gift-to-the Yank-who-Gave" Christmas campaign. I feel that that campaign is terribly important. Let's fall in line, and show our wounded soldiers that we don't forget. We pledge allegiance to our Flag, but unless we honor the guardians of our beloved flag and country, revere the memory of the honored dead, and express to the wounded living our undying gratitude, then our patriotic speeches are but sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. *** Now from the sublime in service to selfish senility. I told you that there is to be a funeral today. There is something unspeakably sad about the fact that there will be no one, I fear, to weep at the passing of this 92-year-old woman. When Virgil and I came back from California, and could not find a house or apartment in our fair city, we rented a room, with housekeeping privileges in the home of church friends of ours. Let's call them the Smiths. Mr. Smith's mother was making her home there. Virgil and I are very fond of old people, and we intended to be extra nice to this rather lonely and perhaps misunderstood "Grandma." She made the most of it, and would barge into our room at any hour of the day or night, to have me thread her needle for her, or to speak her mind about her daughter-in-law, whom she hated with an ardor that fairly sizzled.
Tiny, 90-pound dynamo, she insisted on washing out her own underwear and stockings. She would march through the kitchen with the air of a conqueror, looking mad as a hornet. Daughter of a wealthy builder of some of Cleveland's finest commercial buildings, she always had her own way, and grew into a most dominating personality. She WAS a good mother in her way, although she smothered her own daughter into early invalidism and release from this "wilderness of woe." I liked her spunk and spirit, and really wanted to get her life story, knowing it would be colorful. But I could not stand her tirade - so utterly unwarranted - against her daughter-in-law, whom I dearly love. Just to give you an idea of her disposition, I'll relate two little incidents. Until about three years ago she did her own banking (and she informed me that she paid well for every mouthful of food she ate in her son's house). On the street one day some well-meaning soul stopped to talk to her and made the faux pas of asking 'Grandma' her age. The non-agenarian gave her questioner a devastating look, and with her two-edged tongue she said, "What's it to you?" and marched on. At Christmas time our friends, the Smiths, devout Christians, always try to have a beautiful morning service all their own. Grandma would sit in sullen silence through this family worship. That is, up until about four Christmases ago. Now, picture a setting of a lovely open fire in the big hearth, the odor of fresh evergreens, soft lights, with the wondrous scene of the Nativity reproduced in miniature on the long mantel - even to the Wise Men and the Star in the East. In the reverent hush of this sacred atmosphere sat Mr. and Mrs. Smith, their two lovely daughters and a winsome son - AND recalcitrant Grandma. Mr. Smith broke the soft silence with the Story of Jesus' birth, as told by St. Luke: "And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed..." That word "taxed" was too much for Grandma. As a heavy property owner she knew too much about taxes. "TAXES!" her harsh voice broke into devotions. "Taxes! That's all we hear about. I think it's an outrage the way taxes have gone up!" ... and so on and on. WELL, it broke up the meeting. For Jean, whose sense of humor is as keen as her brilliant mind, went almost into convulsions.
They never tried to have Grandma participate in the Christmas morning devotions after that. And now poor Grandma, who fought her way through to almost her 93rd year, flouncing in and out of Homes for the Aged (for none of them could take it) has at last bowed to the will of the Great Reaper. It would seem that, even in death she was a bit inconsiderate, for her funeral comes on the very afternoon that our good pastor wanted to attend a special foot-ball game. I am sure that an understanding Heavenly Father forgave him for saying, "Darn it."
Florence B. Taylor
Next - 11/24/49 - Defending Lloyd Robinson
BY-WAYS Table of Contents