Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kent and I wandered down to G'ma Opal's place on Sunday
afternoon. Sunday is just made for visiting-so we went

G'ma was in the middle of cleaning out her spice cabinet,
and she took the old ones she had found, tossed them
in the trash and sat down with us at the kitchen table.
The evening was coming on and the kitchen was growing
dim. G'ma started to reminisce about days gone by. She
told a story that I've heard before, but never really
paid much mind to.

The Christmas she was four, which would have been 93 years
ago, there was an older, childless couple that lived a mile
down the gravel from them. This couple came up to my Great
Grandma and Grandpa Simon and begged them to let little Opal
spend Christmas Eve night at their house. And so they let

She carefully hung her stocking at the fireplace and then she
crawled between them in their bed and slept all night. In the
morning she found her stocking stuffed with goodies. There
was an apple, a banana, a sawdust stuffed dolly, and way down
in the toe of the stocking a bright and shiny nickel.

I asked G'ma if there was more for her from Santa at her own
house when she went home on Christmas Day, but she couldn't
remember. That stocking though, with the fruit, doll and
especially the nickel is a memory that has been very precious
to her through the years.

A little later G'ma started speaking of all her neighbors and
friends that she lived in this community with all her life. One
by one they've all passed away. She said she often feels like
the last rose of summer. Then she quoted the poem by Sir John
Stevenson and Thomas More.

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh
To reflect back her blushes
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem,
Since the lovely are sleeping
Go sleep thou with them,
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow
When friendships decay,
And from love's shining circle
The gems drop away!
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone!

But we didn't part on a sad note. The conversation turned
to bacon grease and salt and she duly noted that those
two things must be good for you. She said she decided
when she turned 80 she'd just eat whatever she wanted.
Mostly she wants bacon grease and salt and the two have
keep her going now for another 17 years!

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