It was a splendid pre-fall day when my sister Jeannie and I journeyed to Ravenswood to meet our other two sisters who live in Jackson County. It was a spur of the moment plan to get together for a sibling picnic, and the trip up I-77 was pleasant.
There was a definite yellowish haze on the trees, as the leaves were losing their summer greenness and beginning to fade. Here and there a few trees had turned a light red, and it was evident that fall was fast approaching. There was an anticipatory feeling in the air, which matched the expectant feeling in our hearts at the idea of being together again.
My sisters are my dearest friends. We have always been close, and distance has not diminished the love we have for one another. Our destination was the River Front Park which is situated between Ravenswood and the Ohio River. We spread our picnic on one of the tables, and watched the river flow onward.
Tall trees overshadowed the park area, and a cool breeze rippled across the river and blew through the park. It was altogether a perfect, peaceful day. I looked at my sisters and memories began floating through my mind. I was the oldest sister; actually the oldest child in our family of seven children. Mary Ellen is five years younger than I am, and I am ten years older than Jeannie. I was almost twelve when Susie was born, who was the last child.
I remember my Aunt Lucille remarking with a grin, "Gay (our father) let all the kids run footloose and fancy free until Susie came along. He knew she would be the last one so he fenced in the yard!" We adored our little bald-headed baby sister.
Mom had all seven of us in 12 years, so she had to have all the help she could get. Susie was Mary Ellen's special baby, and Jeannie was mine. It was our job to get them ready for bed and tuck them in, which was easy since we had two iron bedsteads in one bedroom and we slept with our babies.
Jeannie was plagued with eczema, and I remember rubbing eczema salve in the bends of her elbows and behind her knees. Then I dressed her in Dr. Denton's with the feet attached, while Mary Ellen dressed Susie. This was the best part of our day, when we took our babies out on the front porch and swung them in the old porch swing.
There were woodbine and heavenly blue morning glories twined up to the top of the porch, which made shade and seclusion from the world. With our babies cuddled on our laps, we sung them to sleep. Sometimes Grandpa would sit on a rough wooden kitchen chair tilted back against the wall. He smoked a pipe, and the fragrant scent of the tobacco drifted through the air. Whether he enjoyed our singing or not I don't know, but he did say he wanted "Precious Memories" sung at his funeral.
We would warble, "Twilight is stealing over the sea; shadows are falling dark on the lea," We didn't have the foggiest of what a "lea" was, but it sounded sad and romantic, and we loved it. "Borne on the night winds voices of yore, come from that far off shore." Now I understand. I can hear those "voices of yore" in my memory.
The chorus went like this, "Far away, beyond the starlit sky, where the love light never, never dies, gleameth a mansion filled with delight, sweet happy home so bright." No, the love light never dies, not even here, as long as memory lasts. "Come in the twilight, come, come to me . . ." Ah, memories! They do come in the twilight, in the evening shadows, when the day draws to a close, and the mind is free to drift.
I see Mary Ellen when she was a youngster, with her blonde hair in pigtails, except one of them always came loose and hung about her face. She was a sweet-natured child with a mild temperament. She rarely fussed with the rest of us children. Her buddy was her brother Mark, who was next to her in age. She became a compassionate, loving lady, whose greatest desire is living for the Lord. In fact, the virtuous woman described in Proverbs describes her exactly. In spite of the pain from a severe case of fibromyalgia, she still extends love and help to others.
Jeannie (or Glenna Jean) was my very own baby. She seemed rather frail when she was little, but outgrew the eczema and other ailments to become a beautiful lady. I remember when she fell off the front gate and broke her arm. I was devastated. I always felt protective toward her. She began singing when she was a tot, and in church services she was usually asked to sing. She has a lovely voice, and still sings. A retired RN, she spends a lot of time with her grandchildren.
Ah! Susie! She was envious of Jeannie's singing (because people gave her money) and announced one time—she had a lisp—"I got just a good a boice as Jeannie!" She can sing, too. I guess we made a monkey out of her. She got mad at Daddy once and told him, "You look like thomething walking around the barnyard!" She always had a delightful sense of humor, and my children adored her.
She had a terrible automobile accident several years ago on her way to church and hit black ice coming down a hill. She's never fully recovered from that, but manages to cope and keep her sense of humor. She is a special sister.
The Lord has blessed us abundantly, and I'm so thankful for my wonderful sisters.
We received more apple butter recipes from some of our readers. In fact, June Walker of Hurricane sent two envelopes full of slow cooker apple butter recipes. (Thank you, June.) Della Coleman writes from Paintsville, KY, and sends her recipe which she says "tastes just like Grandma's!" (Nine cups applesauce, 4 cups sugar, 2 drops cinnamon oil, 4 teaspoons cinnamon, and 2 teaspoon ground cloves. Cook in crock pot 4 hours on high.)