Savannah, Marion’s baby sister, arrives while I am interviewing Marion’s nephew, Eddie. Savannah and husband Bob have been waiting in the conference room. Savannah wears a dark pink suit with a black silk blouse. Unlike lanky Marion, Savannah is of medium height and petite. Her voice is delicate and her speech precise (For Marion's story, see "Medical Aide Man" in Stories by our Users).
Savannah sits in a corner of the conference room, beside a large picture window. After getting my video camera adjusted, I ask Savannah to tell me about her and Marion’s family. She says, “My father’s name was Steve and my mother’s name was Maude. Her maiden name was Cox, Maude Cox. Marion was the oldest child. There were ten of us, five boys and five girls. One girl and one boy passed away as infants. With Marion’s help, the rest of us survived. He played an important part in our life.
“He always loved to learn things, things like working on cars. If you looked at him now you would find a place on the back of his head that came from a car motor catching fire and blowing up. Mother worried that would bother him as the years went by, but his hair covered it up, and he never had a problem with it.”
Savannah: 1943 and 2005
Savannah talks about being the youngest of the family with Marion as the oldest sibling.
“By the time I came along, he had gotten up to be 21. He loved to tell this tale about me: Mother and Dad had to move from one house to another. It was cold, and to take the route to the new house in the wagon, it would take longer than it would take him to bundle me up in a blanket and carry me. He told how he carried me as a baby. He’d say, ‘Here’s the baby, and I carried her through the woods.’ It was just a normal country family.”
The elegant, elderly lady asks me if I want to hear another funny story. I say, “Please, tell me all your stories.”
“We lived in an old house. It had a fireplace,” Savannah recalls. “There was a room built onto it. That’s where Marion and my other brother, Henry, slept. I always thought Marion was two feet taller than Henry—there was quite a bit of difference in height between them, and they both wore bib overalls. One night, we were all sleeping, and some mean person who lived in the neighborhood—a person who liked to play jokes—got drunk and ran up to our house and hollered, ‘Your house is on fire!’ So, of course, we all got up and ran out. I’m sure somebody threw me out because I was little. When it was all over and they found out someone was pulling a joke on them, Dad got real angry. Dad said if he could find that guy, he might shoot him. Anyway, when we got back in the house, Henry had on Marion’s overalls with the legs two feet too long. And then Marion is standing there like Lil’ Abner with Henry’s on, and they’re so short on him. That story was told quite a bit through the years. It was one of the funny things we went through growing up.
“Marion was always good, he was always gentle. He never ran out of patience with us kids.”
Savannah smiles pleasantly through the story; she enjoys telling it for the first time to a new friend.
I ask Savannah to talk about the war years.
“When the army took him, we wondered how we were going to get along without him,” she says. “But we found out we could. Then we began to correspond with him. Lots of times, he put a handkerchief in the letters, and it was pure silk from France. He sent me a card with ‘To My Sister’ embroidered on it, and he sent us articles from the newspapers that he translated on another piece of paper. We enjoyed the newspapers, and the foreign stamps he sent to us. I’m so sorry I didn’t keep the papers and the stamps, but as the years go by you lose things.”
Savannah says she didn’t see any difference in Marion after he returned from the war, and that he seemed happy to be home.
“Most of the family had children, and Marion was good with the little ones. He spoke French to them, and he also played musical instruments. The whole family played some kind of music. The only thing I heard him talk about from being in the service was that there was so much, now I don’t know he would say this, there was so much…wounding, and things like this that bothered him. He wasn’t used to anyone being hurt or anything until he went into the service.”
She tells me what her oldest brother means to her, deep down in her heart.
“I think he still recognizes me, although he might have to hear my voice since he can’t see so well. Marion was like a second father to me. If Dad wasn’t there, we could always ask Marion. He would know what to do, how to solve our problems. We all looked up to him as the oldest brother, as another parent, or I did, anyway. I don’t know about the older ones.”
Marion’s baby sister glances away from me, shakes her head from side to side briefly, smiles and looks back at me.
“So I just thought he would always be there, you know? Of course, I don’t give up on him now.”
After saying this, Savannah sits silently for a moment. She closes her eyes, drops her head, slaps the side of her chair and fights back tears by biting her lower lip.
After collecting herself, she continues in a trembling voice, “Maybe sometimes it will get me down, but not that much.” Savannah sadly regards me and then the camera; she seems slightly embarrassed to lose her composure. I am fighting back tears myself. She has delighted in talking about her beloved older brother, and then, at the end, remembers his present demented condition. I thank this kind, gracious lady for sharing her memories with me. Today I learned the depth of love Marion’s family feels for him. Soon, I will travel to Monticello and learn more about Gwen’s love, and the depth of her pain.
To learn more about the Eisenhower Unit, please read my Blog and “Stories by our Users” entries listed below:
Reveille/August 15-January 1 (Blog)
Bricks of a Different Color-January 4 (Blog)
A Show of Love-January 10 (Blog)
Moving Day-January 13 (Blog)
Introductions-January 18 (Blog)
Sharing Our Grief-January 22 (Blog)
Love Stories-January 25(Blog)
Trashman-January 29 (Blog)
Holiday Gatherings-February 2 (Blog)
A Conversation About Alzheimer's-February 6 (Blog)
Nursing Dementia-February 8 (Blog)
A Dementia Care Philosophy-February 9 (Blog)
Ministering Demented Veterans-February 12 (Blog)
In The Shadow-February 17 (Blog)
A Gallant Vessel-February 17(Stories by our Users)
Memorial Day-February 19 (Stories by our Users)
Medical Aide Man-February 20 (Stories by our Users)
Nephew Eddie-February 23 (Stories by our Users)