The smell of sausage frying as I awake means grandma Shelby is in the building and it won't be long till were being fattened up on her biscuits and gravy. Grandma Shelby is my mother- in- law. Born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to fear god and to love thy neighbor. In the 30 or so years that I've had the pleasure of her company, I have never heard her bad mouth anyone or say the word NO. Married at 18 she and her husband moved to Wisconsin in search of work and the American dream. Times were lean ,but they established a foothold. Shelby is not known for wasting any time and takes care of business. Before ya know it 5 kids were running around the yard.
In the summer of my wife's 15th birthday Shelby's husband unexpectedly passes away. He would never get to see his eldest daughter (my wife) wed.( No I did't marry her at 15 that was later) I never had the opportunity to meet him and Who knows, he may have never even have let This wild boy on a motorcycle near his ruby haired girl.
Left as a single parent of 5 kids with the youngest being 10 Shelby had her work cut out for her. The kids born of Irish and Indian decent, needless to say, had a little fire in them, and sure didn't make her job any easier. She persisted and provided for her brood. My wife, a child herself at the time,shared the responsibility of parenting until one by one all had flown the coop.Shelby's youngest daughter beautiful in spirit wed and had her first child. In the child's 5th year Shelby's youngest daughter was stricken with cancer and fell silent. The father of the child could not bear the grief and responsibility pressed upon him and withdrew to his vices. Shelby at about 55 years stepped up to the plate and took the responsibility of a parent once again. Not even considering any other situation she raised the young girl as if it was her own child . The child grew up with the same fire as her past generations and Shelby stood by her through thick and thin. At 60 years more grief was laid upon Shelby's shoulders as her second youngest son died of medical complications due to diabetes. Again she kept her head high and persisted. The arrows that pierce her heart did not stop there. At 62 years, My wife was diagnosed with cancer. Her eldest daughter and with a child of our own, was given very slim chances for survival. Without asking, Shelby was right their at our side willing to fight the demons once again. We beat the demons together and a miracle was granted by god. The strength seen in Shelby Is inherited by my wife as she too persists. Disabled but alive she fights daily battles with the same courage and determination as her mother.
Shelby's grandchild, the one she raised as her own, has now grown and is ready to fly on her own. She found her first love far away. Shelby retires and moves her and her grandchild so the two can be together. Not long after the young couple move in together... Lighting strikes again.. A house fire takes the life of the grandchild's first love and the young girl reaches back to Shelby's open arms for comfort and support. Time passes and grief eases while Shelby home schools this young mind who was too impetuous to complete high school, the young girl grows and gets her diploma.
This brings us to present day and I look back amazed as to the tragedy Shelby and the family has endured. I also look back at the times which brought laughter and joy because Shelby was there. My particular favorite was back a few years ago when Don Williams was coming to a near by town for a concert. Don Williams was Shelby's saving grace. This woman would go to the ends of the earth to see him live in concert. I think she went to about 16 of them. She has just about every cd he ever put out. She even turned me on to his stuff over the years.
Well.. back to the concert. I purchased tickets for our whole family to go to the county fair Where Don Williams was to preform,along with a hotel room so we could make an easy day of it. A week before the concert Shelby falls and breaks her ankle and is laid up. No way is that going keep her from seeing her heart throb old Donny boy. We borrow a wheel chair and off we go to the fair! The concert was more then I imagined and put smiles on all our faces as we push Shelby back to the hotel room. Upon our arrival we see Don's bus the gypsy lady parked out back. You have never seen someone so twitter paitted since thumper. She was going to stay by that bus and get Don's autograph no matter what. Shelby ran circles around that bus in her wheel chair, wide eyed and energetic as a school girl in love. She noticed the driver and demanded his attention.The Driver told her Don was in the Hotel and he was going to pick him up at the front door. That wheel chair lit up the tires like Big Daddy's dragster and shot toward the hotel lobby. When she arrived, there were a hand full of fans waiting also for an encounter with Don. Thirty minutes pass and we see the Bus head for the Interstate out the lobby window. The other Fans moan as Shelby Smiles with thoughts of what almost was and just a whee little contempt for that bus driver who fooled her.
At close to 70 Shelby still has a zest for life, not afraid to jump on the inner tube and take a snowy ride down the hill or jump on the back of my motorcycle. She stays in touch with her family in West Virgina and travels there regularly to visit. This woman has lived in the north for over 40 Years ,Yet still has the southern twang in her voice. The Twang mellows a bit in between her trips back to her birth place, But upon her arrival back to wisconsin I notice a definite kick back in her twang. Yee haw!
There have been times during our trials and tribulations when I could tell Shelby did not agree with my position and wanted to rip me a new one,But her southern morality and respect for her fellow man did not let this woman ever lose her cool.
The persistence, strength and courage of this southern belle named Grandma Shelby is unequaled to any hero I know
Don't lose your Twang Grandma Shelby.....God bless and lets eat some biscuits and gravy. And in the words of Don Williams:.... forver and ever Amen!