Family Stories

A Cloud of Smoke – 86 Years

My dear maternal grandmother – Alice Montgomery Carrico – blowing out all 86 candles on her birthday cake!  The year, 1979.  Can you see her through the smoke?  Notice the cheeks full of air, trying to blow them out!  I remember kissing those cheeks and patting them.

Grandmother, as we called her, lived life to the fullest.  She was a short, round little woman, who wore beautiful silky dresses, in brilliant colors.  Grandmother always wore her jewelry – earrings and brooch, sometimes a necklace.  She wore hats and gloves in the same colors, again usually a brilliant green, raspberry or blue.  And she loved to eat!  She was a fabulous cook, who, even through the depression years, saw that her family ate well.  Sometimes it was vegetables from the garden, or a chicken baked to perfection, and in the good times her cakes and cobblers and pies.  Grandmother was a woman who loved her desserts!

Notice her hair – even at 86 she sports dark brown hair.  Natural dark brown hair, no hair dye for her!  Alice bore her seven children at home and was in the hospital only twice during her long life – she lived to the age of 92.  When she was about 75-80, she developed a light case of pneumonia and was hospitalized for several days – probably because of her age.  She loved the attention from the nurses, the food, the flowers that arrived daily and the visits from family members.  And she was in the hospital a few days before she died.  A very healthy woman, even with her extra weight, she had no serious illness, her body was just worn out after living so long.

I loved staying with Grandmother when I was young, but unfortunately didn’t ask the questions that could have been so easily answered.  I would love to know how she and Granddaddy met, what made her fall for him.  Alice was 17 when her maternal grandmother, Catherine Elizabeth Taylor Linton, died in May of 1910.  Why didn’t I ask about her memories of this special woman?  1910 was also the year her paternal grandfather, William Peter Montgomery, died – and his wife Martha Ann Carrico Montgomery lived until 1921.  Such a treasure trove of information, but I was more interested about earlier great greats, that I didn’t realize what I could learn from one who had lived so long.  I wanted to know dates; how far back could I go?  I miss not getting the information that Grandmother could have given that would make those earlier generations come alive.

We all look back at questions we could have asked a loved one while they were still on earth.  Perhaps the younger generation still has time to ask those questions – please do while you can!

And I will relish in what I remember about my grandmother and keep that memory alive for my grandchildren.  I hope I reach my grandmother’s age – 30 more years for Kentucky Kindred!

9 replies »

  1. Such beautiful hair! 86 years old and no gray hair. Did her hair gray thereafter, before she passed? Sorry, such a trivial question, but so interesting.

  2. What a beautiful photo and tribute. It brings back many dear remembrances of my late Ma-Maw who lived a little over 100 years —which was still not nearly long enough for me. Grandparents make life so much richer.

  3. Beautiful memories! I have many memories of my grandparents, too. Luckily, I did ask them many, many questions about their early lives, their ancestors and the early history of the families Sadly, there were so many important questions that I failed to ask. But I was young and not yet experienced in genealogy. I was merely curious. Thank God for the curious mind!!! Thanks for your post, Phyllis. It brought back so many wonderful memories of my own grandparents for me with whom I spent a week every summer for a full decade. So I was lucky to personally know many of the “old ones” in my families — 3 Great-grandparents when longevity was far shorter than it is today. I count myself incredibly lucky. Thanks again for your inspiring post! KUDOS!!

  4. Such a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother.Amazing how she lived that long and only in a hospital 2 times. I love your description of even finding joy in being there and receiving attention and good care.
    I too am sorry for not asking questions of my Grandma who lived to be 96. Love reading your posts.

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