I never knew my Grandmother Grace in the flesh, only through the stories my Dad told about her. He often mentioned how she painted beautiful pictures of flowers and ferns, very small pictures. He, being her only son and very interested in art, had been given a tiny red velvet book full of her little pictures along with quotations from the Bible and other books. He also had numerous scrapbooks his mother and Aunt De had made. In her day (late 1800’s), scrapbooking was a very favorite entertainment. It was fun for us, Dad’s children, to look at the many newspaper clippings they saved.
Grandmother Grace died when my Dad was thirteen. She had tuberculosis and, though Grandfather diligently tried to find a climate that would be conducive to her healing, traveling all the way from Michigan to South Carolina by covered wagon or train, she couldn’t get well.
I remember studying the little pages of delicate artwork and wishing I could have known that special lady whose photograph was so faded. I was very pleased when my Dad said I looked like his mother. The book was kept in Mamma’s desk, the safest place in the house, along with deeds to various portions of Pinedale, our Northeast Georgia home.
When my niece, Emily Grace, born on Grandmother’s birthday, was a little girl, Mamma and Dad gave her the little red book. Emily treasured it for many years. Then another Grace was born into the family. Emily, being the big hearted lady she is, gave the little book to her Aunt Pat to be saved for when little Grace, her grandchild, was old enough to appreciate it.
Over the years, we all lost track of where Grandmother’s little red book was.
Recently, Emily was having lunch with my sister Suzanne. Suzanne began describing tiny pictures she had found of flowers and ferns painted by our grandmother. “You are so good about preserving things,” she told Emily, “maybe you’d like to see them.”
Her descriptions made Emily remember the little red book and she told Suzanne about how she’d given it to Aunt Pat for Grace. (Grace is grown now, a doctor, living in California with her husband and tiny son.) Emily said wistfully she’d love to see that little book again.
Suzanne suddenly realized they were talking about the same thing–pictures in a little red book. “Since Pat died,” she said, “I’ve helped David go through her things and that’s where I found it. I didn’t know it was yours, or little Grace’s. That’s where the tiny pictures are!”
Emily and Suzanne were so excited over their discovery, everyone in the restaurant turned to see what the ruckus was about.
Emily hunts for good ways to preserve and restore family heirlooms and documents. She didn’t receive the little book and just keep it to herself. She proceeded to “publish” it with her computer so we would all have blown up copies of Grandmother Grace’s loving work, her meticulous little pictures. Emily, with use of a magnifying glass, deciphered the faded printing in Grandmother’s hand of Bible verses and poems and typed them into a form we could read.
So now the legacy of my grandmother, who went to heaven in 1899, lives on. She probably never thought of being “published.” And she probably had no idea that her son would become a renowned Georgia artist during the 1920’s and 1930’s. And she might have been surprised to know that her son had eleven children and that there is a “Grace” in more than one generation!