Last year about this time around Valentines Day I wrote an article especially for the ladies.
With Valentines Day upon us by the time this goes to print, I thought it would be fitting to write another.
I didn't know last week when I wrote about my great aunt (Sarge or Doc) that we would lose the last one of about half a dozen of the older women that had a great influence on my upbringing.
My great grandmother and five great aunts all lived close in the Doty Springs community and they with a few others; drum up a flood of memories.
I found out today that Billy Joyce had passed.
She was the youngest of the aforementioned and the last to go.
I told one of my cousins at another funeral here awhile back that now we are becoming the old folks.
I don't particularly like that title but I reckon if the shoe fits you have to wear it.
I can still see in my minds eyes all those ladies in the community garden with big straw hats and cotton dresses picking peas, beans, tomatoes, corn, etc. I never saw any of them in a pair of pants until I was a teenager.
It was the men's job to break up, plant and fertilize the garden.
The ladies did most of the gathering, putting up and cooking the produce. That is just the way it was back then.
I remember Billy Joyce was one of the first to get a freezer and thus began the modernization of putting up produce.
However I still preferred the taste of some home canning.
Billy Joyce had a hard life and lost her first husband when her two daughters were just a notch above babies.
She worked and probably never made much more than minimum wage.
As far as I know she didn't draw any government assistance.
She raised those two girls with shear grit and determination.
I am sure the kinfolks around helped and it was 'raising a child with the whole village' before that terminology was cool.
I always admired her and those girls as they lost their husband/father on Christmas Eve or Christmas day and it had to be hard on them.
She married again later in life as the girls were older. With meager means, both girls went to college and have done well for themselves.
I am sure they have suffered some hard knocks along the road.
They dared to persevere and I am proud to call them cousins.
Billy Joyce was not perfect, as none of us are.
She worried a lot and I am sure she had plenty to worry about but she perserved through some trying times.
I remember as us kids got older she loved to sit and talk with us around a campfire roasting weenies and marshmellows.
It was during some of these times I saw the sparkle of youth return to her tired eyes. She seemed rejuvenated like it did some real good, both physically and spiritually.
I could go on and on about this great lady and the others I mentioned but time will not allow.
As you who read my stories know that these ladies were a great influence on me.
I know this isn't the romantic stuff you might have expected around Valentines Day.
With that in mind, let me not be remiss without mentioning my number one lady in my life, my wife, who’s been my valentine for over thirty some odd years.
On the Porch with Dirk is a recurring article written by Dirk Thayer, an avid outdoorsman and storyteller.
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