- Emma: In Her Own Words — The Background & The Beginning
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Childhood
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Employment
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Elopement & Early Marriage
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Work & Travel
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Bits & Pieces
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Papa
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Grandparents & Relatives
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Mama
- Emma: In Her Own Words — The Flood
- Emma: In Her Own Words — Teaching
- Emma: In Her Own Words — The End
Transcription of my grandmother’s notebook. See Part 1 in the series for a full explanation. Some text is omitted to protect the privacy of living family members.
“Papa played the violin and sang. Some of the songs he played were Sourwood Mt – Crippled Creek – Shortening Bread – Turkey in the Straw and Hymns.
His hair turned gray early and he had a thick head of wavy hair till he died. He died in Sept and would have been 90 in Dec. He was almost blind at the last. He accepted Christ when he was 86 and was baptized. He said that was the greatest blessing he ever received.
Mama lived across the street from church and she went till the winter she died every Sun. Someone at the last would help her across the street. She kept house and cooked for herself until a yr before she died. She had someone to stay of a day. She lived in a double house & good neighbors helped her out.
I have been able to go to all my grandchildren’s weddings. We drove with Edna to N. York to Aubrey & Lois’ wedding. Then David & Kathy married at Fay’s home at Mt. Vernon and Mitzi & Paul married there also.
We are very proud of Lois, Kathy and Paul and adore our great-granddaughters Sheila and Cindy.
Our grandchildren are Aubrey, Dennis, Phillip, Linda, David, Mitzi, Cassandra and Carmeta.
I wonder if they can imagine how much I love them.”1
Final Thoughts from Linda
“I wonder if they can imagine how much I love them.” Yes, that is the last sentence she wrote. Did she intend for that to be the end of her story? We’ll never know. We don’t know if that was written minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months before she died. In talking about her brief teaching career on the previous page, she mentioned it being about 60 years since she started teaching school at age 17. Mamaw turned 77 in October 1977 and died 19 Jan 1978. Based on that, it’s almost certain her last words here were written no more than a few months before she died.
My grandparents lived in Loyall in Harlan County, Kentucky. One grandchild lived across the street from them, three lived in Barbourville, and the other four of us were the farthest away in Mt. Vernon—about 100 miles from Loyall. From the time my grandfather retired when I was 8 years old, they made that drive to Mt. Vernon nearly every week with stops in Barbourville, which is about halfway. During the school year, my siblings and I knew Mamaw and Papaw would be there when we got off the school bus on Monday afternoons. They usually spent one night and headed back home the next day. They were still making that weekly drive from Loyall to Barbourville to Mt. Vernon after I was gone from home and working in the 1970s. Since I worked and lived in Barbourville, I got a quick weekly visit, too.
As an adult, I talked to Mamaw on the phone most every week, usually on Thursday evening. And that was back when we paid for long distance calls. I have no idea why Thursday was the day and I’m surprised I even remember that. Those phone calls were such a habit that I caught myself with the phone in hand ready to call her on many Thursday evenings after she died.
It had been several years since I read all 54 pages of Mamaw’s notebook and I’ve enjoyed this review. Sometimes her handwriting is hard to read, but the practice I had reading letters she wrote to me when I was in college has somehow stayed with me. I can read every word.
One last thing. I don’t usually attempt to speak for others. But in this case, I think I can. She wondered if her grandchildren could imagine how much she loved us — we knew she loved us unconditionally and always. We all knew.
- Emma Ewers Taylor Hopkins, “Journal,” 1974–1978, Loyall, Harlan County, Kentucky; privately held by Faye Hopkins McCauley, Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, 1978. Spiral notebook in which Emma wrote about her life, in possession of Faye (Emma’s youngest daughter) since her death in 1978. ↩