Wednesday, February 11, 2015

THE VISIT
Submitted by Kenneth Lee

Kenneth Lee writes the following story. He writes of his memories of his Grandma Leakie Lee and her two sisters-in-law, Dollie Ophelia Lee Edwards and Alice Lee Eley. Grandma Leakie Lee’s husband was Robert Edward “ Bob” Lee, brother of Dollie and Alice. The setting is a rural farm in Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana in the 1950s and early 1960s. Aunt Dollie Edwards lived in Alabama and she would make visits to see family in West Carroll Parish. Aunt Alice would come and visit while Aunt Dollie was  there. 

Robert Edward Lee "Bob" grandfather of Kenneth Lee.
When Aunt Dollie came for a visit, it was usually around cotton-picking time. Uncle Bill worked late in the field to harvest the crops. Aunt Dollie lived over in Alabama, and was a part, as we called them, of the Alabama branch of Lees. Dollie Lee Edwards was Grandpa Lee’s sister. She charmed people with her ease of conversation. Her melodic voice was punctuated with a pause and a smile. Grandpa Lee had lain in the Oak Grove Cemetery several years by the time I remember her visits. When Aunt Dollie came to visit my Grandma Lee, her sister (Aunt Alice Lee Eley) would also come up for a visit. She lived with a daughter near Pioneer, Louisiana. In my mind, Aunt Alice was directly opposite of Aunt Dollie in looks and personality. Aunt Dollie was petite and neatly coiffed with a flower in her hair. Aunt Alice wore a simple housedress, and she pulled her hair up in two braids, which she wrapped around her head. She listened more, but when she spoke, her voice was dry and crackly. She was direct and to the point!

The three women spent afternoons on the front porch. All three women had raised numerous children, and the family tree branches had grown significantly because of those three women. I would walk the short distance from our house to visit. Grandma and Aunt Dollie took the big rocking chairs, and Aunt Alice sat in the swing where she sat crocheting. I usually sat on the steps. Spit! Spit! Spit! Aunt Alice and Grandma Lee took a pinch of snuff, and they interrupted the conversation by spitting into the yard. Aunt Dollie carried most of the conversation anyway. She spoke with a twinkle in her eye. Her head shook slightly which caused her small earrings to dance. Once, Grandma Lee said, “She might tell you anything!” She was telling me to take her conversations with a grain of salt so to speak!

Sometime later, Aunt Alice had a long illness. I visited her once with my parents. I wore a new coat, because it was late in the fall. She said, “That is a handsome coat!” That was the only direct conversation that I remember with her. Children were told to be seen and not heard so adults didn’t usually go out of their way to talk directly to you. She died in the early sixties, and snow fell the day she was buried. Grandma slipped, she told me, to the ground on the snow and sleet. Grandma Lee lived a couple of years beyond that wintry day. Aunt Dollie lived several more years, and was written up in her local town paper about her skills as a mid-wife. She delivered close to a hundred babies (maybe more) in her lifetime.

The visits were rare, but I looked forward to seeing Great Aunt Dollie and Aunt Alice! By the way, Aunt Dollie did talk directly to children.

Speak! Speak! Speak! Talk to your relatives while the fire burns. When the embers go cold, there isn’t another chance to feel the warmth of their voice!



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