Dorothy Mae Casey was born 112 years ago today, August 4, 1900. She proudly shared the same birthday as the Queen Mother of England. Granny birthed 13 or 14 children – no one can remember for sure and it makes for good argument (as though this family needed any starter wood) when our family meets together. Our numbers are dwindling, and my four aunts are the only remaining members of their generation of my father’s family.
My granny buried her husband, Pastor Ira H. Jones, when she was only 58 years old. Five months later she lost her baby son, Harold, in a tragic car accident. Everyone said that Granny would soon die from the grief of losing the man who structured and ordered her world and the baby who rounded out the bottom end of the family ladder. But everybody was wrong because Granny lived till she was 95 years of age – never had a driver’s license – and she showed everyone how to carry great sorrow correctly.
In 1995 when Granny was in the hospital very close to passing away, we all gathered at various times to show our love and support to her. She never lost her wit and her funny charm. Once when we were checking to see if she were lucid or not, someone asked, “Granny, how many children did you have?” just trying to check her mental capabilities. She lay silent with her eyes closed for a few seconds and said, “Thirteen.” Everyone began commenting about her lucidity and that she was “with us today,” and then she spoke up again and said, “I really didn’t want that many…”
After one particularly long stretch when she had not been communicating, she began stirring and mumbling and everyone hurried to her bed. She kept saying something over and over and no one could understand what she was saying, but we all felt she must be speaking great pearls of wisdom, gold nuggets of truth, something that would be life-changing for us all to hear as she approached the end of her days. Granny grew agitated at everyone’s inability to understand what she was saying. Finally my cousin, Pam, leaned over and put her ear right next to Granny’s mouth and heard her enunciate, spell and say the letters, “C – O – K – E.” We were looking for Socrates and she was looking for a Coca-Cola.
A few days before her final day she began fading in and out of consciousness, and from all apparent signs, she began getting glimpses of the “other side.” Sometimes we would think she was speaking to us, and the nurses said she was just hallucinating, but she began speaking with people who had been significant in her life. I was in the room one time when she lifted her little frail hand and waved it as though she sighted an old friend and said, “Brother Lambert! Oh, I knew I would see you here!” C.E. Lambert was her pastor before her husband began preaching.
Dorothy Jones instilled legacy into her family that we carry to this day. You can’t hurry up and have a legacy… That still takes time.
Happy Birthday, Granny! You are greatly loved and missed.