Remembering Great-Grandma Polly O’Neal

My first memory of Great-Grandma Polly was when my Father took me to see her. He would always bring her something from the farm and this day he brought her some butter.
When the door to the old house on 9th street opened it revealed a small, frail looking lady sitting on a day bed in the living room. She was unwinding her hair that she washed every month. This event had me in awe as her hair rolled off the bed, down the floor and almost reached the door before the final strand of grey stretched out as if it was a morning yawn.
Her age faded quickly as she smiled upon us and spoke optimistically and with gentleness unlike I have ever heard.
Great-Grandfather, Layfette, was 101 years old at the time and was soon to pass peacefully way. It was my Father at his bedside when he passed away and listened to his fading heart until it no longer pulsed with life. He told me their story many times with tears in his eyes. Layfette was his Hero.
Great-Grandma Polly was to live on until she turned 100. Up to the time she passed away, she was always giving to the poor either with food (butter from my Father which quickly passed along to other needy people), teaching Sunday school or sitting with those who cannot care for themselves.
The many stories about Great-Grandma Polly was spun so many times that myth became fact and facts disappeared in myth. My Mother was quite fond of Polly and she always wished she would of written down the many stories that Polly shared with her.
Her daughter Maggie (Maggie “Bonney” McClure) was constantly with her Mother during the time of elder years and was with her up to the time of her death. Maggie was never the same after Polly’s death. My Mother took care of Maggie until her death at 98.
In the brief time I remember Great-Grandma, she gave me a sense of compassion and dedication rarely ever seen today.
This picture was taken around 1950. It is the only photo I have of Polly. My sister and I held Great Grandma in high respect. I remember that I was concerned that I might be too heavy for her to pick me up and she quickly said “you are easy to pickup…. easier than putting a saddle on Ol’Blue, besides, if you quit squirming so much, I will tell you a story how Ol’ Blue saved Pa’s life in the snow storm of 98’”
I could hardly wait to hear the story.

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