Friday, June 02, 2006

Aunt Emmy's Peonies

During Memorial weekend in West Virginia, as we drove by an old homeplace, Mom pointed out that there were peonies growing, even though the house was gone. That's some determination, I tell ya.

The house is long gone. There is part of the fence and some of the foundation remaining. The woods has overtaken the yard and I'm sure there are snakes, though luckily, I didn't see any.

The house belonged to Aunt Emmy and Uncle Homer. According to my mom:

Aunt Emma (Emma Corella) was a sister to your great grandmother Lilly Rosella (Sumpter) on your Pappaw’s side. Their maiden name was Norman. Emma was married to Homer Beall. Uncle Homer was Mammaw’s uncle – a brother to your other great grandmother Allie Beall Alltop (Mammaw’s mother). So they were related on both sides. Aunt Emma and Uncle Homer took in most of the orphaned children that were left parentless due to tuberculosis. (Photo of Frank and Lilly Sumpter on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1952.)

In a time when we are warned of the dangers of West Nile virus and avian flu outbreaks, it's interesting to think of the impact that tuberculosis had on our families back in the early 20th century (at least in the midwest and Appalachia). TB took my Mammaw's mother and her two brothers early in their lives. And she herself did a stint in one of the sanitariums in West Virginia - Hopemont. The sanitarium was strategically located at a high altitude where the air was cooler because this was thought to help the patients.

At any rate, it certainly makes you thankful for the advances in medicine over the last century that have helped us to find better vaccines, treatments, and cures for diseases. I'm sure thankful to still have most of my family members in my life... and for the time I got to spend with those who are gone.

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