Monday, February 18, 2013

Bee (center), w/ sisters Charlotte & Mildred
We've had a sad month. My wonderful mother-in-law died last the week before last and we had her funeral last week. As funerals go, it was a wonderful one. I've written a little thing about her, that I think I will post here as my tribute to her.

Bee Eugene Bellamy moved as a small child to the Fort Cobb, OK area with her family.  She rode the train with her family to Fort Cobb from Arkansas with their household belongings and moved to land south of Fort Cobb. At the time the family moved to Ft. Cobb, the Washita River Bridge at Ft. Cobb had not yet been built and the only way to cross the river was by ferry boat. Bee attended school at a little country school and graduated from Fort Cobb High School. One of her many treasured memories of childhood was when her father made her mother a homemade pioneer washing machine from a barrel, that was built along the lines of a butter churn. Bee said that it made their life so much easier on wash-day  Her most miserable memory was the time she broke all of the family eggs that were sitting on the bed being kept safe until they could ride to town to sell them. As a result, her older sister Mildred who was not much older than Bee, received a whipping 
and the family was unable to buy the groceries they needed with the lost egg money. Bee never forgave herself for causing Mildred to get a spanking, but did not hold a grudge against her mother for having what we would now think of as unrealistic expectations of a 5 year old. It was a different day and age and we cannot comprehend what it was like at that time. 

John & Bee with their first child, Pat.
She married her one and only true love, John Bellamy in the middle of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days. They farmed south of Fort Cobb in the Hopewell Community, later moving to a farm closer to the Washita River where they lived the remainder of their married life.  When Bee could no longer live at home by herself, she moved to her daughter Pat’s, where she remained until she entered the Binger Nursing Home in May, 2010. Bee and John had 4 children and taught them that attending church, receiving an education and hard work were the most important things they could do with their lives, but if you enjoyed ball, that was ok too. Bee worked outside the home at the Fort Cobb school lunchroom for several years. She also received training in upholstery at the Okla. College for Women, back in the 1950’s, because her son, Mike (my future husband) was attending the School for the Deaf and she wanted to not waste her time while she spent her days in Chickasha, waiting for him every day. Because of this training, she was able to have a successful home upholstery business for a number of years. She enjoyed sewing and quilting. She especially loved sewing for her granddaughters, even including their wedding dresses. She received the Golden Thimble award from the Daily Oklahoman in after Granddaughter Lori’s wedding.                            
She also used to make her daughter, daughter-in-laws, and all her granddaughters some sewn item every year for Christmas, such as flannel nightgowns or aprons.  She was a good cook and loved nothing better than cooking and entertaining her family. 

John & Bee with their 2 oldest children, Pat and Larry @ the old Hopewell church, no longer standing.
This is one of my very favorite pictures of Granny Bee. It was probably taken 35 - 40 years ago, because she's walking without a crutch. Everyone that knew Bee knew she suffered from arthritis for many years, but she did not let it stop her from continuing to attend church, community events, and the many ballgames and school activities of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was an inspiration to her family in the way she responded to her illness, she did her housework walking on a crutch for years, but you would never hear her complain. She always looked on the bright side and tried to be useful with her life. She was very giving and generous of herself. One year when she had to spend many months in bed due to a hip replacement surgery, she made a scrapbook for every single child and grandchild for that year’s Christmas gift. Even at the end of her life, she said, “I wish I could have done more.” Bee was a member of the Hopewell Baptist Church, until she transferred her membership to the Fort Cobb First Baptist. She had been a member of South Pioneer Home Demonstration Club.
Granny in her favorite chair for visiting family.
During later years after grandchildren came along, she acquired another dining room table and they would push the 2 tables together to make one long family dinner table with special white tablecloths she made. Some of the family’s favorite recipes were the old school recipes she continued to make, such as the homemade cinnamon rolls and bread she had made as a school cook. She enjoyed not only having her grandchildren come for visits; she also babysat several of them so they didn’t have to go to a day care center when they were little. The “city” grandkids loved to come to Fort Cobb in the summer and spend time with their Fort Cobb cousins at her house, going to Ratliff’s Grocery, playing on the farm, and creating many loving memories of times at their grandparents.

This is how we remember Granny in her recent years, patiently sitting in her chair through every family event that she was able to attend. Even up until the last few days, she knew everyone's names and birthdays and where they lived and worked. 

At the time Mike and I married, mother-in-law jokes were popular with comedians on TV. I have said for years if everyone had a mother-in-law like I had, that mother-in-law jokes would never have been created. She leaves behind 94 children, grandchildren, great, and great-great grandchildren, and a host of other relatives. Although she will be sadly missed, we are happy for her, for she is finally where she has wanted to be since John died in 2005.  No one could have asked for a better role model, and we can take comfort we will see her again some day. 
 Until later, Elaine, aka, the Red Dirt Cowgirl

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