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America wth George * Friendswood, Texas * Great Granmamma

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

For the next few weeks I am going to be using this space to communicate with my kids,
please excuse the change of tone and content. George is Jude's stuffed dragon.

Our next stop was a visit with a very special lady. Your only living Grandmother (your dad's mom's mom). Her name is Granmama. She was at the hospital with her sister Ann Annie. I think one time somebody got mixed up and couldn't say Aunt... so everyone always calls her Ann Annie. She is a very talented and prolific artist. A prolific artist is someone that creates lots and lots of beautiful things. Annie painted most of the days of her life. Do you remember the series of Alice in Wonderland pictures we had in our Delaware house... Ann Annie painted those.

So let me tell you a little bit about your Granmama. She has lived a pretty amazing life and has some crazy stories to tell... but she is pretty humble and doesn't ever brag about how cool and courageous she is. When Granmama was young she lived in Kentucky with her family. Her parents got divorced when she was 12. That was a hard thing for her. She was very sad and confused 
and didn't understand everything that was going on. When she was 17 she moved to Fort Worth, to live near her mother's friend and attend college at TCU (Texas Christian University).
On the first day of college everyone goes to something called "orientation". It is a little bit like your first day of kindergarten. The people in charge tell you where everything is and what the school rules are. Granmama walked into orientation and saw a very handsome young man in an sailor suit. It was Papa! He had just finished fighting in World War II and had come back from an island in the South Pacific. He was going to school on the GI Bill. The GI Bill was a social service that paid for soliders to go to school. Papa told Granmama the story about Jesus and Granmama really like it. Shortly after they met they eloped... that is when you get married and don't tell people or have a big ceremony. 

After they got married they had lots of kids. Four of those kids were born when Papa was in seminary. Seminary is a college that teaches people about God. Papa's brothers thought he would be a good doctor and they wanted to pay for him go to medical school. During medical school Papa and Granmama had another baby. After medical school Papa did a year of residency in Austin and Granmama got pregnant with her SIXTH baby.

In 1958 Granmama was 6 months pregnant with her 6th baby (Stephen's daddy, Uncle James) and the whole family got in a car and drove from Texas to New York. After that they got on a boat and traveled to Liverpool, England. Then they got on another boat and traveled through the Mediterranean and down the East coast of Africa and arrived at their new home in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania... by the time they got there, Granmama was about ready to have her baby. 

They lived in Dar Es Salaam for few years and then moved to another town in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, called Mbeya. Then in 1962 they moved to Jinja, Uganda. They lived there for almost ten years and then moved to Kenya. Everywhere they went they helped sick people and told them about how God loves them. As you can imagine there are lots and lots of cool stories that filled those years.

In 1976 Papa had a car accident and became a paraplegic. That means he couldn't move his legs and had to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. It was sad news. But God is big and sometimes we don't understand why he does the things he does. Papa was in the hospital in Nairobi for four months and he wasn't getting better, so he got on a special hospital airplane and flew back to America. After he got well enough, Papa and Granmama moved to a house in Friendswood, Texas and named their road Narnia Way (the magical land where Aslan is from).

After Papa's accident he didn't practice medicine anymore, but he helped people in lots of other ways. One of the most important things he did was pray for people... he did a lot of praying. He prayed for his family a lot. This is a picture of your dad's charm at Granmama's house. All of the grandkids have one.

Papa and Granmama had 6 kids, 27 grandkids and right now they have 50 great grandkids (and there are more on the way). Those kids, grandkids and great grandkids have lived interesting lives all over the world. London, France, America, North Africa, Nigera, Central Asia, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Australia, Thailand... and even New Zealand (that's you). They are mothers, teachers, youth leaders, engineers, fathers, nurses, fashion designers, artists, students, community developers, gardeners, hospitality gurus, councilors, computer programers, doctors, event planners, writers, farmers, realtors, fundraisers, mediators, swimming lesson teachers, musicians, volunteers... to list a few. Grandmama prays for each of them by name.

She loves purple, picking blueberries, writing birthday cards, and knitting baby blankets for every one of her great grandchildren... and her children arise and call her blessed. This is a painting that your Aunt Joy did (remember how I said she was one of my favorite artists... pretty good isn't it)