Several years ago, my mother gave her three daughters a photo of her, our grandmothers, and our great grandmothers as keepsakes of the women in our family. We knew these were to be treasured and framed and passed along, and I believe all three of us have them hanging in our homes. Note: the photos of the men are coming.
One question everyone asks themselves at some point is: "Where do I come from?"
Well, I would like to introduce you to my matriarchs. This is three generations of women who make up part of who I am, and when I find myself not knowing what do, I just look to them and say, "Well, they survived...what would they do?"
Paternal Great Grandmother, Permilla “Millie” Barkley (top row left)
GGma Barkley was an owner of a General Store in Indiana, and I’m told she loved to tell stories. She assisted her husband in running the store, keeping inventory AND the books.
Maternal Great Grandmother, Louise Hammen (top row right)
GGma Hammen lived in Missouri and was married to a dentist. While he worked on teeth in exchange for cans of beans, she painted scenery and still life. She always said “it was nothing but a hobby.” But her “hobby” hangs on walls across the state.
Paternal Grandmother, Esther Farr (bottom row left)
Gma Farr graduated college from William Woods University in Missouri and taught music until she married my Gpa Farr and had my father at the age of 41. She was the Gma with the piano who never stopped singing. Her favorite was: “The hills are alive with The Sound Of Music.”
Maternal Grandmother, Rosemary Shryock (bottom row right)
Gma Shryock, still the Matriarch, taught all of us the importance of family. She was a small town girl who married a farm boy and moved to a farm that is now one of Missouri’s Centennial Farms. She had to learn how to cook for the masses, garden, put up corn and tomatoes, pick and snap beans, pluck chickens, raise four kids, and SO MUCH more...but she still had time to enjoy the sunset. Gma Shryock is the lady who still insists on having ALL 40 offspring at their house on Christmas Eve, and who still complains that her pies never turn out right. By the way, most of my most cherished recipes are from Gma Shryock.
Mother, Janice Farr (bottom row middle)
I don’t really know where to start when it comes to my Mom. If they asked me, I could write a book. This woman is full of light and kindness. She is beautiful inside and out. She is selfless and giving (two very different things). She is patient and caring. She laughs and smiles but also cries. She is a poet. She likes to garden (that must be the farm girl in her). She is more organized than anyone I know. She is Grammie to little A and to my sister's little girls. She is strong. She is honest. She is dependable. She always knows the right thing to say. She is the first person I call when I need advice or a second opinion. And, to quote a favorite book of ours: "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, your baby I'll be."