Just letting you know that I am taking a break from my blog for a while. Howard had a stroke a week ago. I was at the hospital each day last week and was completely exhausted when I arrived home at night. He’s home now, but we have to see doctors for a while. After all of this settles down here, I will be back doing genealogy and writing these stories again.
This article is a sequel to my earlier article concerning Brian Boru. After finishing that article and concluding that there was no direct connection to Robert the Bruce on my mother-in-law’s Polk/Pollock line, I found myself thinking about it and wondering, “What if there is?” The connection would not have been on the Polk/Pollok line. I discussed that in my last article, concluding that at most, the Polks swore loyalty to Robert the Bruce.
End of story?
The following is a brief synopsis of his life from the Wikipedia site:
Robert I (11 July 1274 – 7 June 1329), often known as Robert the Bruce (Medieval Gaelic: Roibert a Briuis; modern Scottish Gaelic: Raibeart Bruis; Norman French: Robert de Brus or Robert de Bruys), was King of Scots from March 25, 1306, until his death in 1329.
His paternal ancestors were of Scoto-Norman heritage (originating in Brix, Manche, Normandy), and his maternal of Franco-Gaelic. He became one of Scotland’s greatest kings, as well as one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against the Kingdom of England. He claimed the Scottish throne as a fourth great-grandson of David I of Scotland, and saw the recognition of Scotland as an independent nation during his reign. Today in Scotland, Bruce is remembered as a national hero.
His body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart is buried in Melrose Abbey. His embalmed heart was to be taken on crusade by his lieutenant and friend Sir James Douglas to the Holy Land, but only reached Moorish Granada, where it acted as a talisman for the Scottish contingent at the Battle of Teba. (1)
The following is a summary of his two marriages and acknowledged illegitimate offspring presented in chart form from Wikipedia:
|Child by Isabella of Mar|
|Marjory||1296||2 March 1316||Married in 1315 Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland, by whom she had one child (Robert II of Scotland)|
|Children by Elizabeth de Burgh|
|Margaret||unknown||1346/47||Married in 1345 William de Moravia, 5th Earl of Sutherland; had son, John (1346–1361).|
|Matilda (Maud)||unknown||1353||Married Thomas Isaac; had two daughters. Buried at Dunfermline Abbey|
|David||5 March 1324||22 February 1371||Succeeded his father as King of Scots. Married (1) in 1328 Joan of England; no issue; married (2) in 1364 Margaret Drummond; no issue.|
|John||5 March 1324||Before 1327||Younger twin brother of David II. Died in infancy.|
|Acknowledged illegitimate children by unknown mothers|
|Sir Robert Bruce||1332||Killed at the Battle of Dupplin Moor.|
|Walter of Odistoun||Predeceased his father.|
|Margaret Bruce||Married Robert Glen; alive in 1364.|
|Elizabeth Bruce||Married Sir Walter Oliphant of Aberdalgie and Dupplin.|
|Christina of Carrick||Alive in 1329.|
|Sir Neil of Carrick||1346||Killed at the Battle of Neville’s Cross|
Bruce’s descendants include all later Scottish monarchs and all British monarchs since the Union of the Crowns in 1603. A large number of families definitely are descended from him. (2)
It didn’t take me any time at all to focus on the Stewart line since I had seen it before in family records. My mother-in-law’s ancestor Stewarts not only connect directly with Robert the Bruce, but they also intermarried with my mother-in-law’s Polks/Pollocks/De Polloks. What is so funny is that I started working on the Bruce line over ten years ago and was able to take it back to Rognvald Wolfs Orkney (1011-1046)–Brian’s 30th great-grandfather, Howard’s 29th great-grandfather, and Mildred’s 28th great grandfather. Robert the Bruce is Brian’s 22nd great-grandfather, Howard’s 21st great grandfather, and Mildred’s 20th great grandfather! Ten years ago, I had taken Robert the Bruce’s lines back to the first known ancestor, and Mildred’s lines through the Polks without discovering the connection.
In my previous article, I mentioned a connection between Howard’s father’s Magruders and Robert the Bruce all the way back to Charlemagne. That will be my next endeavor, and it will take me some time to complete it.
For now, we have a Scottish King and an Irish King in the Family.
I hope I can keep them from fighting!
(1) “Robert the Bruce” From the Wikipedia Encyclopedia site. Last modified 24 March 2017. Available online at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_the_Bruce
(2) “Robert the Bruce” From the Wikipedia Encyclopedia site. Last modified 24 March 2017. Available online at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_the_Bruce
I can’t believe what has happened over the last few days! I’m still in a daze!
I was working with my flowers in the front yard shortly after St. Patrick’s Day when a name suddenly sprang into my mind.
Then, I had to sit back on the grass and reflect upon the name for a few moments.
Why am I thinking of that? I wondered. I hadn’t thought of that name in years! Why now? Why didn’t I think of it on St. Patrick’s Day just a few days ago?
I remembered thinking about Saint Patrick on March 17, but not Brian Boru.
My mind traveled back forty-nine years ago when Howard and I were considering names for the baby we were going to have in August. We had debated this issue on and off from the day we were engaged.
“How about Ninian!” Howard suggested for his ancestor, Ninian Beall.
“Oh no, we won’t!” I spluttered. “The kids would call him Ninny or Nincompoop!”
[Years later, I told Brian how his father wanted to name him Ninian. His response: “Thank God you steered him away from that one!]
“Well, how about Ryland?” — another Beall name. “We could call him Ryland Hugh Beall!”
The Bealls had unusual names, and I made it my mission not to bestow any of them on our offspring. At the same time, I didn’t want any of the usual names. In the words of the old song: “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry’s called John–John–John! Every Tom, Dick and Harry’s called John!”
“Well, we’re going to have a girl anyway,” I said. “And her name will be Susannah Michele.”
“I’m not so sure I like that one,” Howard responded.
Several weeks after that, we turned our television on and tuned in to a favorite program. The actor’s name? Brian Keith!
“Hey–that’s what we can name our boy!” Howard announced.
“What?” I asked, bracing myself for some outlandish concoction.
“Brian Keith Beall!”
My response was almost immediate.
“Then people will call him Brian Boru!”
“Who’s that?” Howard asked.
“Oh, some old Irish king!”
I only knew two things about Brian Boru back then: One–that he was Irish and, two–that he was a king!
“So–our son will be a king!” Howard decided.
I had to think about it for a while. Shortly after that, I discovered a book on the meaning of names.
“Hey, guess what Brian means?” I announced.
“So–he’ll become a famous speaker. Maybe he’ll become President!”
I continued thinking about the whole thing, toying with the name in my mind: Brian! Brian! Brian! I didn’t know of any Brians in Howard’s family or mine. So this would be a first!
It is an Irish name! I smiled.
I knew I had some Irish blood in my family, but I didn’t know how much back then. According to a recent Ancestry DNA test, I am 20% Irish, something that would make my ancestors smile. And Howard is 21% Irish!
The name slowly grew on me and pretty soon we were telling everyone, “Well, if we have a boy, his name will be Brian Keith Beall.
Then a problem developed with Keith!
We were living in Louisville, Kentucky at the time, and a neighbor boy had the first name of Keith. Whenever his dad walked down to see us, Keith would tag along with him. He had sticky fingers, and I had to watch him like a dog whenever he was in the house. It wasn’t long before I registered my objection.
“I don’t want our son’s middle name to be Keith!” I told him.
“Why?” Howard asked.
“Because of that kid up the street.” Fortunately, I came prepared. “And I have a perfect replacement!”
“SCOTT! What about BRIAN SCOTT BEALL?”
And that became the baby’s name!
Brian Scott Beall was born August 6, 1968 in St. Anthony’s Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky.
“Brian Boru!” I said softly as I held him in my arms–my nickname for him.“The little Irish king!”
A few days later, the birth certificate lady entered the room.
“Have you decided upon a name for this little fellow?” she asked.
“Brian Scott Beall!” I told her.
She stopped writing and glanced down at me.
“Have you been talking with the woman down the hall?” she asked.
“No,” I answered, puzzled. “We decided upon his name a few months ago. Why?”
“The woman down the hall couldn’t decide upon a name for her little boy. She was expecting a girl. We put our heads together and came up with Brian Scott!
So there were two Brian Scotts born about the same time in St. Anthony’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky!
The nickname Brian Boru stuck for a while however. Whenever Brian woke up, I would call him that name, and he would grin. But as the years passed and he engaged in mischief from time to time, Boru was replaced with his real middle name:
“BRIAN SCOTT BEALL! YOU COME HERE RIGHT NOW!”
And I forgot all about the Irish king until a few days ago.
* * *
So why am I remembering him now?
I left the yard and returned to the house. Curiosity lured me to the Internet, and I began seeking information about the famous king. The following are selected paragraphs from a Wikipedia article:
Brian mac Cennétig, called Brian Bóruma, Brian Boru, Emperor of the Irish (c. 941–23 April 1014), (English: Brian Boru, Irish: Brian Bórumha or Brian Bóru), was an Irish king who ended the centuries-long domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill. Building on the achievements of his father, Cennétig mac Lorcain, and brother, Mathgamain, Brian first made himself King of Munster, then subjugated Leinster, making himself ruler of the south of Ireland. The O’Brien Clan regard him as their founder. (1)….
In death, Brian proved to be a greater figure than in life. The court of his great-grandson Muirchertach Ua Briain produced the Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, a work of near hagiography. The Norse Gaels and Scandinavians too produced works magnifying Brian, among these Njal’s Saga, the Orkneyinga Saga, and the now-lost Brian’s Saga. Brian’s war against Máel Mórda and Sihtric was to be inextricably connected with his complicated marital relations, in particular his marriage to Gormlaith, Máel Mórda’s sister and Sihtric’s mother, who had been in turn the wife of Amlaíb Cuarán, king of Dublin and York, then of Máel Sechnaill, and finally of Brian. (2)…
There are many legends concerning how Brian was killed, from dying in a heroic man-to-man combat to being killed by the fleeing Viking mercenary Brodir while praying in his tent at Clontarf…. He is said to be buried in the grounds of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the city of Armagh. Legend dictates he is buried at the north end of the church. (3)
Brian Boru had four wives. According to the article:
Brian’s first wife was Mór, daughter of the King of Uí Fiachrach Aidne of Connacht. She is said to have been the mother of his sons Murchad, Conchobar and Flann. Later genealogies claimed that these sons left no descendants, although in fact Murchad’s son Tadc is recorded as being killed at Clontarf along with his father and grandfather.
Another wife, Echrad, was a daughter of Carlus mac Ailella, King of Uí Áeda Odba, an obscure branch of the southern Uí Néill. She was the mother of Brian’s son Tadc, whose son Toirdelbach and grandson Muirchertach rivalled Brian in power and fame.
Brian’s most famous marriage was with Gormflaith, sister of Máel Mórda of Leinster. Donnchad, who had his half-brother Tadc killed in 1023 and ruled Munster for 40 years thereafter, was the result of this union.
Brian had a sixth son, Domnall. Although he predeceased his father, Domnall apparently had at least one surviving child, a son whose name is not recorded. Domnall may perhaps have been the son of Brian’s fourth known wife, Dub Choblaig, who died in 1009. She was a daughter of King Cathal mac Conchobar mac Taidg of Connacht.
Brian had at least three daughters, but their mothers are not recorded. Sadb, whose death in 1048 is recorded by the Annals of Innisfallen, was married to Cian, son of Máel Muad mac Brain. Bé Binn was married to the northern Uí Néill king Flaithbertach Ua Néill. A third daughter, Sláine, was married to Brian’s stepson Sihtric of Dublin.
According to Njal’s Saga, he had a foster-son named Kerthialfad.(4)
Now, THIS is the clincher:
The descendants of Brian were known as the Uí Briain (O’Brien) clan, hence the surnames Ó Briain, O’Brien, O’Brian etc. “O” was originally Ó which in turn came from Ua, which means “grandson”, or “descendant” (of a named person). The prefix is often anglicised to O’, using an apostrophe instead of the Irish síneadh fada: “´”. The O’Briens subsequently ranked as one of the chief dynastic families of the country (see Chiefs of the Name).
Brian’s third great-granddaughter was Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd (c. 1097 – 1136), Princess consort of Deheubarth in Wales, leader of the “patriotic revolt” and battle that contributed to the Great Revolt of 1136. (5)
“So where do we go from here?”
The house was empty. I had been pouring over information about Brian Boru for a greater share of the day, interrupting the plans I had already made.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if I find him sitting somewhere in our tree?”
I laughed. For years, I heard my mother-in-law talk about her kings and queens, specifically Robert the Bruce of Scotland. Supposedly, the connection was on her Polk line, but I could never find it. I finally ended up with Fulbert the DePollock (1075-1173), and the accompanying notes:
Fulbert was also known as Fulbert the Saxon. He was a noble and territorial king who came from Normandy France to England as Chamberlain of William the Conqueror.
**Normans were Scandinavian invaders (Danish vikings) who began to occupy Normandy in the early 9th century. The Normans came into Scotland, building castles and founding noble families.
***The Saxons were a large group of germanic people. (which would now be eastern Germany and Netherlands) – eventually invaded (or migrated to Great Britain) in the middle ages.(5)
Fulbert’s son was Robert DePollock, but I could find no Robert the Bruce. At most, the family swore fealty to him and fought for him and named their sons after him. but I do not believe there was any blood relationship. My presumption is supported by the following statement from a Wikipedia article regarding the Pollock name:
Pollok was later divided into Upper and Nether Pollok. It is believed that later Polloks had land confiscated and given to the Maxwell family for supporting Edward I’s puppet “Scottish” king, Edward Balliol, against Robert the Bruce.(6)
[Note: The Polloks and the Maxwells had a “tight fit!”]
And I discovered an item concerning the use of the middle name Bruce with several Robert DePollocks/Polks in my mother-in-law’s line. This is from the Clan Pollock website regarding Robert Pollok/Polk the Immigrant:
The middle name �Bruce� never appears as part of Robert Polke�s name in the colonial records. (This was first introduced in Mary Winder Garrett�s articles on the Pollok/Polk family (1896) and repeated in �Polk Family and Kinsmen.� Unfortunately it has been widely used ever since, but should be omitted.) (7)
There is a connection with Robert the Bruce, on Howard’s father’s Magruder line, however. Alexander Magruder (b. 1610) and Robert II of Scotland were direct descendants of Charlemagne. So I presume the relationship between the Magruders and Robert the Bruce is collateral and not direct. I’m currently working on these lines and it will take me a while to complete my article on the Magruders.
“Back to my Irish king!” I decided.
That’s when I spotted the O’Brien surname in the paragraphs I posted above, and I started looking for a direct connection. I checked my side of the tree first and came up empty handed. Then I checked Howard’s side of the tree and discovered an O’Brien on his mother’s side of the family–Honor Osborn O’Brien (1645-1701). She married Edward Mariarte (1645-1667). Her father was Brien O’Brien (1610-1665) and her mother was Honor Osborn (1645-1701). Their descent winds down through my mother-in-law Mildred’s Lawrence, Dorsey and Warfield lines, and straight up through the Briens/O’Briens.
The chase was on!
For the sake of brevity, I won’t retrace all the hills and valleys I pursued today. But in the end, I discovered that Brian Boru (925-1014) was our Brian and his sister Debbie’s 29th great-grandfather, Howard’s 28th great-grandfather, and Howard’s mother Mildred Lee Warfield Beall’s 27th great-grandfather! (She traded in her Scottish King for an Irish King! And my father-in-law Edward Leyburn Beall, Sr. inherited the Scottish King as a collateral!) Brian Boru would also be the 30th great-grandfather for our daughter Debbie’s three children: Joshua, Jason and Amanda!
Yes, we have an Irish king in the family! And he is a direct ancestor!
(1), (2), (3), (4) Brian Boru. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Page last modified 10 March 2017. Available online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Boru
(5) Clan Pollock. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Page last modified 12 December 2016. Available online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_Pollock
(6) Pollok. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Page last modified 16 December 2016. Available online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollok
(7) John F. Polk, Ph.D., Historian. “From Lifford to America: Scotch-Irish and Pollock Beginnings in America � Part 3,” Clan Pollock International Website. First Published in the November 2008 Pollag. Copyright: April 8, 2001-March 22, 2017. Available online at: http://clanpollock.com/index.php?content=liffordtoamerica3
Today is March 11, 2017!
It is difficult to believe that my father-in-law was born 110 years ago today on March 11, 1907. He was such an energetic person it is difficult to imagine him as anything else. He wanted to ride a cable car in Estes Park, Colorado one summer and asked our son Brian to ride with him. Ed wanted to ride it, but he didn’t ride it alone. So Brian went along, having inherited the same spirit of adventure from his grandfather. I don’t believe for a minute that Ed Beall developed that spirit of adventure on his own. He had help from his ancestors!
The following is a brief summary of his life:
|Birth:||Mar. 11, 1907
North Carolina, USA
|Death:||Sep. 27, 1992
Edward L. Beall, Sr. was born March 11, 1907 to George H. and Minnie Grogan Beall in Durham, NC. He graduated from the Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. His first pastorate was the Springfield Presbyterian Church, Sykesville, Maryland, where he met Mildred Lee Warfield. They were married in the church September 5, 1936. The Bealls had four sons, all of whom are living: Howard Lee; Dickson Hugh; Haynie Prince; and, Edward Leyburn, Jr. The Bealls served churches in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas and Valencia, Venezuela. Ed enjoyed traveling, and he and his wife took numerous trips to Europe and to the Middle East. He was a member of Rotary.
Mildred Lee Warfield Beall (1917 – 2007)
Community Church of the Rockies Columbarium
This article series is dedicated to Edward L. Beall, Sr. and focuses on four of his mother’s lines:
Each article in this series will be devoted to one family group except the fourth. The Camp line will be broken down into three or four articles. That line has been the most challenging to do, and I want to give it full benefit.
I am deviating from the original Beall series I was working on before our son’s death last year, but plan to return to that line later. For the past three or four months, I have been researching these specific lines–a project Howard assigned to me. I grumbled at first. But my attitude quickly changed. Not only has the project been stimulating, it has become quite addictive. As a result, I am in it for the ride.
My father-in-law was an interesting person. He was all-business when presiding in his pulpit, but he also enjoyed a certain amount of adventure. He was around 72 years old when he stood on skiis for the first time. The family lived in Georgia during World War II, and he climbed the patrol towers along the coast in search of German planes. Howard’s earliest memory of him occurred when they were living in the mountains outside Stuart, Virginia. After a heavy snow, Ed went out to shovel a path. A toddler at the time, Howard climbed on the table to see his father’s upper torso and snow flying in all directions. I guess that was a strange sight for a little kid!
Ed was devoted to his ministry and spent most of his time in his churches. Everyone in the family needed to be present and accounted for–there was no skipping services. We were sitting together in a car once, and I asked him whether his family had always been Presbyterian.
“No, my father was a Lutheran,” he told me. “And my mother was a Baptist.”
I think the elder Bealls decided that the Presbyterian Church provided a perfect bridge between the two. On Ed’s father’s side of the family, George Heugh Beall was returning to his roots. The ancestral Bealls came from a Presbyterian background in Scotland.
My father-in-law was also drawn to famous speakers if he felt they had something important to say. And he made certain he shook their hands afterward. I remember writing a research paper for a composition class in college years ago. The subject? Clarence Darrow.
“I met him once,” Ed told me.
“I shook hands with him! But I preferred William Jennings Bryan over Darrow. Darrow’s handshake was cold and as limp as a dish rag! William Jennings Bryan shook your hand like he meant it!”
And the other famous speakers he heard and later shook hands with? John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Billy Graham, to name a few. I imagine he even shook hands with President Harry S. Truman since Howard’s family once lived in Independence, Missouri and only a few blocks away from the Truman house!
Happy 100th Birthday, Edward Beall!
Settle back! Buckle up! Get ready for the ride!
Part One: Minnie Brengle Grogan (1869-1948)
[Note: I wrote the following piece this morning for my Facebook page and decided to post it here as well.]
DAY 8: November 8, 2016–Election Day–I’m thankful that it IS Election Day, and I will probably be burning the night oil watching returns. When I woke up this morning, my clock read “4:45”. It was early–so I decided I could sleep a while longer. When I looked again, the clock still read “4:45”. I thought I looked at it wrong, so I rolled over. And, when I looked at it one more time, it still read “4:45”. That’s when I rolled out of bed. The battery expired. And I thought, “I hope that doesn’t mean something today.”
When I got up this morning, I immediately started thinking about Brian and his voting habits over the years. My earliest memory of any election was the Truman-Dewey campaign. I was five years old and in the hospital having my tonsils removed. Bev was in the same room with me; she also had her tonsils removed. Our parents took turns on Election Day going out to vote and as I recall, they voted for Truman. (He’s a distant cousin of mine–more distant than I originally thought, but in 1948–none of us knew about that. I would later discover that Nixon and Ford are also distant cousins—but that would come much later.) Then came the Eisenhower-Stevenson campaign of the 1950s. I thought I got Eisenhower elected because I wrote “I Like Ike” in the dirt all over the playground. My parents were never straight-line any-particular-party people. Mom always said she would “Vote for the man” and “Not for the party.” They both caught a great deal of flack from Dad’s parents (died-in-the-wool Republicans) because my parents both voted for Franklin Roosevelt–another distant cousin discovered much later). Grandpa Inman was a Republican State Senator in Iowa early in the 20th Century, and I understand, his picture still hangs in the State Capitol in Des Moines. Reportedly, he had the largest mustache. My parents voted Republican for a while. But in 1980, my mother voted for John Anderson, an Independent!
Howard’s parents favored the Democrats until the chaos of the 1960s. (They were from the South and his mother was a distant cousin of James K. Polk!). After that, they became Republicans and remained so the rest of their lives. They lived in Arkansas their later years. My mother-in-law was frightened half to death one day when she was driving down the road with an Impeach Clinton bumper sticker on her car. A guy in a pick-up truck was right behind her, bumping her along the way. That sticker came off the car as soon as she arrived home!
And so we turn to Brian. With all the cousin-Presidents in his background, how would he have voted?
Brian always favored the mavericks, and his first maverick was Ross Perrot! When we returned from Pennsylvania that summer, he tried to recruit us for Perrot. And when Perrot dropped out of the campaign, Brian still voted for him. That experience put a damper on his political interests until 2004 when he was working for the railroad in Illinois and was based in a small town in the central part of the state. One day, he heard about a man who was running for the U.S. Senate who was speaking in the town park.
“What’s his name?” Brian asked.
So Brian and his friends went over to the park to listen to Obama. Afterward, Brian managed to get through the crowd and shook hands with Obama. (I don’t know whether Brian knew that his Grandfather Beall once shook hands with a candidate named John F. Kennedy at the Cedar Rapids Airport. Howard was standing there with him!)
Brian told Obama he liked his message.
“I would appreciate your vote!” Obama told him
“Oh, I would vote for you in a heartbeat!” Brian told him. “But my home is in Colorado. I’m just working here temporarily for the railroad.”
Brian enthusiastically voted for Obama for President several years later. His enthusiasm dwindled by the second term, however, but Brian voted for him again.
Last year we were visiting Brian at his house and the topic soon turned to politics. Brian was busy running through a lengthy list of candidates he didn’t like and wouldn’t vote for under any circumstance. And I asked him, “So, who do you like?”
He looked at me and smiled, “I like Marco Rubio!”
Thinking back on all of this now, I wonder who he would have voted for today had he been able to do so. It didn’t take me long to decide.
I don’t think he would have voted for either major candidate.
Instead, he would have voted for one of the Independents and stayed true to his independent spirit!
You could lead Brian to water, but you couldn’t make him drink!
I was out in your garden the other day when something special happened. But I will save that story for later. For now, I want to update you on the progress of this special place.
It has really changed since my early efforts in creating it and now consists of many memorable objects. A memorial plaque bearing your name and the dates of your birth and death sits on the large center slab we found in Maryland years ago. I bought the angel at a statuary place in Pittsburg, Kansas over 20 years ago. (My mother–your grandmother–was born in Pittsburg.) Of course, a frog is present. Your sister gave me that frog some time ago and in view of the story I told at your service, I had to include it here. One of my friends told me the garden would not be complete without a frog! I also added two stepping-stones: one inscribed with your favorite Bible verse–
and the other containing a simple message about the suddenness of your passing.
Assembling all of these rocks and flat stones for the garden was no easy matter! They were all quite heavy! First, I had to pry them loose from various locations in the yard. Next, I had to lug them to their new locations here. Needless to say, I am glad they are finally in place. I rounded up all of the pine cones during a recent mountain jaunt in an effort to keep roaming cats out of your garden. Cats do not like stepping on pine cones!
And speaking of cats, where would your garden be without Melvin?
Melvin was not only your last cat, but he was also your last pet. I don’t know what happened to the real Melvin since your passing, but when I saw this creature in a Breck’s catalog, I knew I had to have him. “Melvin” is now featured in the garden, but he only appears there for pictures.
For the most part, Melvin stays inside with the other “hobbits”. Remember how you used to call me “Hobbit”? The little “hobbits” and Melvin are in the garden for pictures only. Then they all return to the house so they won’t travel all over the world and reappear in photographs in strange places.
There is a rose-bush growing in your garden. It was there long before I created your special place, and it has been blooming since May. I think it was originally a Margaret Chase Smith rose-bush, although the colors have modified over the years. I’ve never had so many roses on this bush as I have had this season. From time to time I clip them and place them on your special stone.
Your memorial plaque was an endeavor and is something I guard closely.
I found an engraver on eBay who makes these memorial markers. And, of course, this marker has a story. The marker originated in Stow, Ohio. I didn’t know where Stow was located and discovered that it is in Summit County, Ohio–an interesting place since my Grandmother Inman’s Clay-Klee ancestors settled in Summit County! She was your great-grandmother. When it was shipped, I tracked it to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania–home of your favorite football team–The Pittsburgh Steelers–and a large number of our ancestors!
Petals from the rose in this picture are now inside the heart necklace that I wear, (depicted in a photo above), along with seeds from the tree you used to climb in the back yard and petals from other roses that have been beside your plaque. The remaining petals from this special rose are now inside one of your memory books.
I have a series of solar lights in the garden, and they shine brightly through part of the night. Some of them are getting old and don’t stay on as long, so I will have to replace those from time to time.
Recently I added several artificial flower bouquets to the container holding two flags, and I also added a Service Marker honoring your service in the Army.
And now with the exception of seasonal changes, I believe your garden is fairly complete. I will be planting some bulbs here in the fall. Christmas will produce a Christmas tree and possibly a snowman. Spring will bring the arrival of a new Easter lily and the advent of a new blooming season. The columbine you gave me both bloomed beautifully in their pots this year. I hope they do as well in the future.
Now for the story I mentioned at the beginning.
I was standing in front of your garden the other day when a large yellow monarch butterfly flew in front of me and circled the hollyhocks across the yard. After one more circle, the monarch disappeared. I thought it had gone, but it reappeared and circled the yard again. The same thing happened just a few moments ago when I was standing in front of the garden, talking with several neighbors.
I think you are pleased with your memorial!
Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. I thought about it the other day and how this would be the first year I would not receive something from you. You and LuAn were wonderful each year bringing me flowers and plants for Mother’s Day and my birthday combined. I thought about not receiving my plants this year, but I have a special garden planted for you in our front yard.
This picture is an early photo of my endeavor. Please note I have your little Pittsburgh Steelers guy standing in the display. (No, please do not worry. I do not leave him out there or the others. They are there for the picture alone! They would not be standing there in the morning if I left them out there permanently. I might be receiving letters and post cards from them from strange parts of the world!) A more updated picture of your memorial garden looks like this:
We’ve had several blizzards since you left us, so this garden has undergone a number of changes. Please note that in addition to the tiny Kansas City Royals figure (your favorite baseball team), I added a Colorado Rockies weather gnome. I think he will keep us informed of approaching blizzards and hopefully, we won’t have any more this season! Please note that I planted the Easter Lily in your garden that we had dedicated in your memory in church Easter Sunday. I hope it will come up again next year, but this is a practice I plan to continue. I think you will recognize the columbine plants you gave me for Mother’s Day and my birthday two years ago. They are blooming since I took this picture.
I have been sick with a cold the last week–a terrible cold! I haven’t had a cold like this since the days when I was teaching college classes! You remember those days! Students would drag into class with every bug imaginable and pass it on to me! I would sneeze and cough forever! (You are so fortunate not to have to deal with colds any more! Thank goodness mine is almost over!)
So, what is it like now that you are in Heaven? I wonder about the people you have met there. I was working on my DNA matches on Ancestry the other day, and I wondered how many of those people you have met. I’m sure they have told you some amazing stories since they were such colorful characters. There was never a dull minute in their lives. Now you can see why you had a thirst for adventure. Remember my book? We are all the “sum total” of our ancestors!
Speaking of adventure, there is something I would like to take up with you. I was feeling a little blue earlier because this is the first Mother’s Day I would miss your gift. And while I was feeling sorry for myself, all at once, the idea of a Mother’s bracelet sprang into mind. I brushed it aside at first, but it kept coming back. And it wasn’t any time at all before I was on eBay, searching for Mother’s bracelets. Only one caught my fancy. I put it on my watch list and went about my business, but I kept thinking about it. Something kept urging me to buy it. And wouldn’t you know? That’s what I finally did. I have a picture of it at the beginning of this letter. It is coming all the way from New Jersey, so it may not arrive until next week. That’s all right since the plants I received from you were for Mother’s Day and my birthday. So this is for both as well. I guess it has already shipped. Wouldn’t it be funny if the post office delivers it on Saturday? Maybe I shouldn’t get so anxious. I could write a huge book about my experience with the post office and packages! I will certainly look forward to its arrival. If it gets here Saturday, I can wear it to church Sunday!