My day was a little busy yesterday! At 8:00 a.m. this little angel came into our life. My heart is so full of love for this tiny little one – six pounds, nine ounces. Nothing like being a grandmother again! And a little girl this time!
Julian loves his baby sister! Think of the mischief those two will get into! Many happy times ahead.
What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? We all have the traditional lists of home, church, food, our beds, a job – and many other worthy things. But what is in my heart every day of the year – not only on this one day set aside for thankfulness? My family. Ritchey, my precious husband of almost 37 years. How small and lonely my life would have been without him. And those happy faces in the above photo! Linton and Kate our children, Todd (our more son, than son-in-law) and Julian, our adored grandson. And one not seen in the picture, a new grandchild to be born June 22nd. My entire life has revolved around these people. Yes, I worked for twenty-five years and enjoyed my job, but that was not my highest priority. Taking care of Linton and Kate while they were small, giving them all the love and confidence they would need to make it on their own; and keeping Julian until he started school in August, repeating that process with him. All my heart and soul is infused with loving these people – and for that privilege I am eternally grateful.
So while we enjoy a luscious family feast tomorrow, and count blessings for which we are thankful, let us always remember our family – the past and the present. If one of our ancestors had died before passing on their genes to us, we would not be who we are today. And that goes for us, who now pass on a reassembled set of those same precious genes, shared with those of new members of the family, to a new and upcoming generation. Family is everything!
My beloved Aunt Catherine passed away early this morning (Saturday). She was the last of my aunts, my father’s sister. The above photo was taken of us at her eightieth birthday six years ago. I get a little weepy writing this post, but I loved her dearly.
Aunt Catherine didn’t have children – she wanted them desperately, but that was just God’s will. So she showered her love and attention on all her nieces and nephews – of which there are many. She was born in 1930, the daughter of Jessie Delbert and Nannie Belle Coulter Hill, eighteen years after her oldest brother – my father and another uncle were born five and seven years later! Being in the younger family group, about seven or eight nieces and nephews of around the same age would stay at Aunt Catherine’s several weekends a year. She made wonderful breakfasts for us, and took us to the drive-in theater at night – bringing her popcorn and snacks for us to enjoy. We played outside in her large yard and went across the street to the little country store with a quarter to buy candy. Aunt Catherine lived next to her parents so we got to enjoy being with them, too.
After I was older I remember going to her house for country ham breakfasts when Lebanon celebrated Country Ham Days. There was no competing with Aunt Catherine’s cooking. She made the best zucchini bread – with walnuts and raisins – baked in coffee cans. Her fried chicken was out of this world – accompanied by homemade biscuits. And there was an oatmeal-apple cake I will never forget. And she taught all of us how to make her beet pickles.
You could always go to Aunt Catherine if you had a problem. She was always willing to listen and give advice. Her hugs were tight and comforting and she would shower you with kisses.
An avid Elvis Presley fan, who had all his albums, she and my mom would go to hear local Elvis impersonators and giggle like two young girls – they were in their sixties at this point!
Aunt Catherine will always have a special place in my heart – she called me Philly, her own pet name for me that no one else used. Now she is with her mom and dad and all her brothers and sisters in heaven. I’m sure it was a wonderful homecoming for her.
Thanksgiving is such a special day. We all give thanks in different ways – different customs, different foods, different groups getting together to celebrate. That’s the beauty of being a melting pot culture of various countries. I am, first and foremost, thankful for my family. Family is such a beautiful word and brings to mind such smiles of delight from memories we have created together over the years. And to me, it is not only the family I have known throughout my time here on earth, but the family that went before me, those I never met but have come to know through my research. What would we be without family?
What is your celebration of Thanksgiving? Throughout the years mine has changed, as I’m sure it has with everyone. When we were very young I remember going to my grandparents for Thanksgiving. Mom and Pap, my dad’s parents, lived in a house that was probably far tinier than what I remember. But no one seemed to mind. Everyone was together, playing, talking and laughing, while wonderful smells wafted from the kitchen from food that was cooked on a wood stove. It was usually cold outside and Pap had the stove in the living room filled with coal, keeping everyone toasty. And when he added another chunk we could see the red flames and sparks flying around inside the stove. Then we would step closer, holding our hands out to the warmth, and giggling, turned around to let our backside heat up. We were never really cold; it was just a ritual, a satisfying part of being in the warm cocoon of a loving family. And Pap would sit in his big chair, grinning at us. He was the first to teach me the value of family.
As I grew older, as well as my grandparents, we had Thanksgiving at home, with my immediate family, my mom and dad, my sisters and brother. Sometimes the family of an aunt or uncle would also be there, but generally it was the basic family unit. Mom always had a large turkey roasting in the oven, a large pan of her delicious dressing, sweet potatoes, which would later be topped with marshmallows, a pot of green beans that had cooked all day, cranberry sauce and rolls. Then there were the pumpkin pies. My mother, as most women of the day, made her crust. It wasn’t a store bought, frozen piecrust – that would never do! Usually the pies were baked the day before, so we enjoyed two days of scrumptious smells coming from the oven!
As we grew older and married there were more and more family members around the table. More dishes were added to the menu as we each found favorite dishes to share. I love making my own cranberry sauce with chunks of fruit and nuts. My sister is famous for her potato salad, another for her deviled eggs, and another for a pretzel salad. My brother just liked to eat.
When my dad died at the age of 50, there was one less at the Thanksgiving table. But we carried on. More children were born to my siblings; eventually some married and even had children of their own. What a boisterous bunch by that time – everyone talked at the same time, all with different opinions on whether the sweet potatoes should be mashed or cut into chunks, should we make another salad, what else could we make for dessert?
The last five years have produced different Thanksgivings. Ritchey had to work Thanksgiving Day each year. Linton, living in Indianapolis, was unable to come for the Thanksgiving weekend due to retail work and Black Friday. My mom’s health was failing, and with Alzheimer’s, was unable to cope with a house full of family. One of those years I spent the day with mom, cleaning her house, and not thinking about a meal until late afternoon. I decided to take the easy route and pick something up at a restaurant – and found everything closed! At Wal-Mart I found the last roasted chicken, some mashed potatoes and green beans at their deli. It wasn’t the homemade meal we usually had, but mom and I were hungry and enjoyed it thoroughly as we talked about past times.
My mom passed away in March and this will be the first Thanksgiving without her. There will be a tinge of sadness, but my mother lived each and every moment to the fullest, and I know that is what she would want for me. During her last years she would talk about living until she was 100 – because life was so much fun. Even illnesses didn’t get her down. But when she told my sister, about a week before she died, that life wasn’t fun anymore, I knew this was serious.
Since my daughter will feast with the in-laws, Ritchey and I are going to his brother’s family for Thanksgiving – along with their children and grandchildren, and other Brown family members. It will be another day of everyone talking at the same time, jokes abounding, laughs, hugs and games – and so much food! Saturday my very pregnant daughter and her husband are coming to our house – reminding me that next year, a new little face will be at our table. For a Thanksgiving dinner? No, a Thanksgiving brunch! Frittatas, blueberry muffins, fruit, sugar-dusted beignets, bacon and sausage. Not your traditional Thanksgiving fare, but just as delicious! Besides, just having those two special people in our home is Thanksgiving to me and Ritchey – and we mourn that fact that Linton is not. But I am extremely thankful that for each Thanksgiving since he’s lived in Indy a German family has adopted him for the day. The family of a co-worker, he is reminded each year that there is a place for him at their table. Such special people!
Any holiday is not mandated by date or time or place. The day that Ritchey and I are with our children is Thanksgiving or Christmas or birthday – no matter what day it actually is. Whether we are at home, meeting half-way in Louisville, at the beach or at either of the children’s homes, at that place, at that time, together we celebrate. We celebrate family.
Here’s to the Men in My Life! A Long Line of Hill’s and Two Brown’s – Who Should Be Jolly’s!
In my Mother’s Day Salute back in May I introduced you to the long line of women in my life – my mother, grandmother and one line of great-grandmothers. They are a colorful lot with many different names and colorful characters! Well, on my father’s side the names are the same, but, if possible, the characters are even more colorful – we are talking the line involved in the feud! Beginning with John Hill, Sr., who moved with his family from Virginia into what was then Madison County, Kentucky, and in 1797 became Garrard County, who began a long-running disagreement with Hezekiah Evans that flared into the Hill-Evans feud fought by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. After the fateful tobacco house fight of March 13, 1852, in which two brothers were killed and one died a short time later from his wounds, most of the Hill family left Garrard County, making their homes in Washington County, Anderson County, Jefferson County – and eventually beyond – determined to forget the feud and the lifestyle that ensued. There were still a few flare-ups involving participants of the feud, but eventually, and most likely due to the beginning of the Civil War, the feud was forgotten in lieu of a bigger battle. After the war most people were so drained – physically and mentally – from the horrors of war, the feud was never mentioned again – at least that is what I presume. My grandfather told stories of his father’s adventures during the Civil War – but never mentioned the feud. Perhaps he never knew about it. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after my grandfather’s death that I learned of the feud – and now I will never know what he knew about it – if anything.
John Hill, Sr., born about 1765, in Virginia, who married Sarah (Sally) Crow about 1783, died in July of 1839, in Garrard County, Kentucky, was the father of Jesse Hill.
Jesse Hill, born about 1788, probably in Virginia, who married Jane Southern in 1808 in Garrard County, Kentucky, died in February of 1836, was the father of Isaiah Hill, Sr.
Isaiah Hill, Sr., born in 1809 in Garrard County, Kentucky, married Lucy Murphy in July of 1827, died March 13, 1852, was the father of Isaiah Hill.
Isaiah Hill, born in February of 1839, in Garrard County, Kentucky, married Lydia Ann Ross in Washington County, Kentucky, May 4, 1870, died September 8, 1919, in Marion County, Kentucky, was the father of Jessie Delbert Hill.
Jessie Delbert Hill, born August 8, 1893, in Washington County, Kentucky, married Nannie Bell Coulter, June 27, 1911, in Marion County, Kentucky, died April 13, 1974, in Marion County, Kentucky, was the father of James Philip Hill.
James Philip Hill, born November 3, 1935, in Marion County, Kentucky, married Catherine Lyons Carrico, April 7, 1956, in Washington County, Kentucky, died July 17, 1986, in Mercer County, Kentucky, was the father of Phyllis Ann Hill.
Phyllis Ann Hill and Ritchey Edwin Brown (the best of fathers!), are the parents of Linton Edwin Brown.
Linton has the wonderful mix of genes from his many great-grandparents down through all the lines – which makes HIM the colorful character he is today! Let’s celebrate!