There were twelve children in my mom’s family. The oldest was Mattie (b. 1907). My mom, Donnie (b. 1910), was third, and Martha (b. 1917), was seventh.
Photos were rare during their childhood, so this picture is a treasure to me. I was told that it was taken in the spring of 1922. At that time, the two youngest children were but a gleam in my grandaddy’s eye.
Mattie is the girl in the dark dress, my Mom is just to her right. And Martha is standing in front of my mom.
The following is a letter written by Martha to Mattie. I don’t know the exact date, but it was probably around 1996.
A letter of love and thanks to my dear sister, Mattie,
I read a note from you today, thanking me for a few pieces of fruit.
My mind skipped to a January morning, 1917, to a little girl 9 years, 4 months and 11 days old, named Mattie. Course I don’t remember, it was just my beginning.
I wonder what she thought when she looked at yet another baby, (seventh), six younger than herself. They say it was one of the coldest winters on record. “and Papa was sick a lot that year, Donnie, too”.
I wonder who brought in the fire wood to keep us warm? For cooking? What kind of heating? (Fireplace) What kind of cook stove?
Who brought in the buckets of water? For drinking, cooking, bathing, dirty diapers, dirty clothing, bed linen? Who washed the clothes? And on a wash board? Who hung the cold, frozen clothes on the line?
Was there ice in the buckets, snow on the windowsills? Or your bed? Who fed and watered the stock? Milked the cow? Fed the chickens?
We lived on a farm, there had to be a few of these things.
Who washed the lamp shades? Put oil in the lamps?
Who watched our 3 younger brothers, even if Lucille and Donnie were able to watch them themselves, who had time to see to my sister, Mattie? She was still a little girl.
Sister, I know that some of these jobs were yours, and that day, I was yet another burden for you. I wonder how you could show us such love and care all these years, and with all our faults, love us still. Always without fail.
For all the things you have done for us, I love you and thank you. Just in case you had any doubt.
Aunt Martha’s daughter, Betty, read this letter during the funeral service for Aunt Mattie in 2002.
When we were children, my cousins and I spent hours fascinated as the “twelve” told us stories of their childhood. We didn’t realize at the time that they were allowing us to walk with them down memory lane.
Aunt Martha passed away in December of 2010. She was the last of the original twelve children.
Today, I’m linking up to Two Bears and Three Cubs Memory Lane Friday.