Photo Album: Grandma Carrie

Submitted by Cindy Kohler
August September 2005

Pictured in this photograph is my Scotch-Irish grandmother, Carrie (O’Neal) Miller, the shining light in our family. Over the years, she wore a variety of hats: cook, nanny, housekeeper, nurse, and coach, among others. Many times she was gently teased about her height, or lack thereof. Petite at less than 5 feet, she and grandpa made an interesting pair, as he was over 6 feet tall. In her younger years she had beautiful red hair, green eyes, plump cheeks, and freckles galore.

When grandma and grandpa met at a dance, he thought she was a cute young thing and tossed popcorn at her to get her attention. After they married in May 1916, they moved to Missouri, grandpa’s home state. Later, in their married life, they returned to central Illinois. Grandma had come from a family of 14 and with grandpa’s help she begat her own large family. They had 12 children, two of whom died in infancy. As her children grew, grandma was their motivation and inspiration.

Whenever one of her brood would earn a school award (or in later years a job promotion), she would say, “I glory in your spunk!” The family delighted in her unique phraseology (saying “of a morning” instead of in the morning). When something amused her, she would slap her knee and spill with laughter, uttering “by golly!”

An apron was as much a daily necessity for grandma as her dress or shoes. They were the old-fashioned kind with armholes and a bib front to be slipped over the head and tied in back. This was her badge of honor — her uniform — worn in the perpetual work of being a homemaker and mother. I cannot see an apron today without thinking immediately of her. Out of a sense of nostalgia, I began collecting farm-style aprons some years ago. My pride and joy is one of the last aprons that grandma ever wore: a gift of love to me from my Aunt Lucille.

Grandma was also a first-rate gardener. Loving and caring was second nature to her, whether she applied those attributes to her plants, family, or friends.

In 1985, she suffered an abdominal aneurysm and collapsed in her home. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital, where she lingered a very short time. In the years since her passing, I have come to realize that while she is no longer physically with us, her memory is vivid, loving, and constant. Whenever I have accomplished something special, I imagine her looking down from heaven saying, “I glory in your spunk!” Grandma knew about spunk, she lived it every day of her life. ♦

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