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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Monday, June 29, 2009


The Blair Family of Park City, Tennessee

Fall of 1900

My granny is the infant in her mother's lap

She was born December 7, 1899

My granny was my unconditional love giver. She lived a long life filled with every kind of pain and joy. She shared both of those with me. She did not see me through rose-colored glasses, but loved me anyway. She was a woman who was ahead of her times in many ways. She also steadfastly refused to modern up in other ways. She was both intelligent and educated (for her time and station). She was a quilter whose hands were busy with needle and fabric always. She sewed from necessity - she had a dozen children to dress. When they were grown and gone, she sewed Barbie cothes year-round to give to all the granddaughters at their birthdays and Christmas. The woman handcrafted Barbie slips, bras and undies and then repeated the process times 20!

I couldn't possibly blog about Granny in one fell swoop and be done with it. She lived 87 years and I had her for 34. That story can't be quickly told. So I shall do it in bits and pieces.

You see in the photograph the Blair family. Martha Snyder Dugan Blair (my great-grandmother) gave birth to 14 children. You see the 4 who survived. The two boys in the back are the Dugans. Their father died. Martha loved him deeply. The man in the picture is John Blair. He is the father to Granny and Uncle Ralph standing next to him. Martha did not love him. Granny always said, "Well, if she didn't love him, I wonder what that makes Ralph and me?" No, Ralph did not blink when the camera shutter snapped. He was blinded by the measles at about 18 months of age. He was a wonderful, fascinating man and I'll blog about him, too, but this is about my granny.

The Blairs were poor as Ralph and Granny always told it, but they also stressed that they never went hungry, never went without coats against the cold, always had shoes. There are numerous portraits and snapshots of them, so they obviously visited photographers when they went to town or when one came by. They look decently (not ostentatiously) dressed in the photos. They lived rurally. They were not farmers, but Martha kept chickens and a cow, maybe a pig. Oddly, for I have a very rich oral, written and photographic family history, I cannot tell you what John Blair did for work or money. I know absolutely nothing about him. None of his dozen grandchildren ever laid eyes on him.

Granny was the youngest child and Martha was about 40 when she was born. Martha pampered this only daughter and loved her dearly until, as Granny told it for 87 years, she (Granny) began to have opinions of her own. Martha was made of stern stuff, and you don't see the possibility of a smile on her face in the photo. Not even feminine softness. She did not tolerate differences of opinion well. Uncle Ralph never married until he was 58 years old and Martha had died. She wouldn't have approved of anyone, so he didn't take it on.

I have many, many Granny anecdotes to tell, but I think I'll end this post with some words about the end of her life and how good she was to me. A plain talker, my Granny would take on difficult subjects without fear. There came a time to talk about her mortality. I am a bit of a phobe (all right, in my younger years I was hugely phobic) about hospitals, illness, funerals. She knew that well. For about the last 5 years of her life, she told me many, many times that ours had been the best relationship of her life and she did not want me hanging out at a hospital or seeing her for the last time at a funeral. She gave me permission not to go through that. Over and over again.

She fell and broke her hip minutes after the Broncos lost the Super Bowl in 1987. Aunt Pat teased her after surgery the next day. "Mother, you didn't have to throw yourself down just because they lost." She seemed to be doing well. Until the pneumonia came. She was on a respirator and could not speak, but she was alert. The relatives were called in. Granny adored Ex. Not just because he was my husband. They just clicked. Ex went up to the hospital bed. "Granny do you recognize me? Do you know who I am?" Blink. Blink. "Do you know who my wife is?" Blink. Blink. "Do you know why she is not here with me to visit you?" Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.

She held on for 2 weeks. Aunt Pat called at 2:00 a.m. to say she had left us and joined Grandpa. I called Ex who was in San Jose at training. He had just been hired by the union. He was devastated. I went to the funeral. He needed me. I grew from it.

In my ears right now: "When It's Springtime in the Rockies". My Granny loved that song. I learned to play it - for her - for my first piano recital. She made me a blue dress to wear with a big satin bow on the back.

Something that charmed me today: A sweet exchange of very early e-mails, that reminded me I am loved and cared for.


  1. I love old family stories. I need to blog some more about my Grandpa Mel--actually a step-grandpa, but he was my Gramps. Thanks for sharing about your Granny. Isn't it wonderful to be loved just because?

  2. Just because you happen to be alive. "You're good enough to love just because you are you." You'll hear much, much more about Granny, Miss Mary Belle Blair. And then she was Mrs. O'Farrell, hence the Granny "O". My paternal grandfather will be fun to write about, too, but Granny's first.

  3. A blue dress to match your beautiful blue eyes.

  4. Oh! What a wonderful gift of words this afternoon. Remember, I grew up knowing I didn't look like much and the only saving grace I had was those blue eyes which I must enhance with ONLY blue clothing . . so I wouldn't cause a freight train to take a dirt road. So, yeah. The dress was blue. And she liked my eyes, too. I fell like I just got a bouquet!