My Christmas card was returned and next to the address it was stamped, “Vacant.” I was overcome with sadness. My father’s cousin Snooks, who was in her late nineties, no longer lives in the tiny house in Blackwell that she had lived in ever since she married. It is possible that she has been moved to a nursing home but I think it is more likely that she has died. The family of her husband, long since deceased, checked on her periodically but I never met them and I doubt that they know my name, much less my address or telephone number.
Snooks given name was Emma but I never heard anyone call her Emma. She was always Snooks or sometimes “The Old Broad!” She was not what the name implies but she had an earthy sense of humor and enjoyed referring to herself as the “Old Broad.” She even had mailing labels printed with that name.
We didn’t see Snooks often because of moving a lot. But whenever we did go back to Blackwell she was always one of the first people we visited. Snooks loved my father and mother and was always thrilled to see us.
On my last trip to Oklahoma to visit my parents, who were both in a nursing home, my son and his family who were living at Ft. Sill, and I took my parents to Blackwell to see Snooks and to visit all the family tombstone’s in the cemetery. Three living generations of the family visiting previous generations. It was a great visit and afterwards I started writing to Snooks. I became interested in the genealogy of my family and Snooks was a wonderful source of information. She had numerous physical difficulties but she was still mentally sharp in her late 80’s when I last saw her.
Although I remember her only as an old woman, I think she must have been quite beautiful as a young girl playing drums in her father’s band. I have only a vague memory of her husband. He served in WW !! and died in middle age. Snooks lived alone the rest of her life, faithful to his memory. She lived in very modest circumstances, in a tiny shotgun house with a living room, a bedroom, a kitchen and bath, but she never complained. She laughed a lot and spent most of her time helping others. She did volunteer work at the hospital for many years, doing very menial tasks. Her language was often ribald and she had all of the prejudices of her generation but she had the proverbial heart of gold. Even though she didn’t go to church she was a believer and she frequently expressed gratitude to the God of her understanding. She was a good woman. A strong woman. Another "feisty" woman in our family history! A survivor.
Snooks, the old broad, is another piece of my quilt of memories. A very colorful piece.
I pray that she is reunited with all her loved ones. Her husband. Her sister. Her parents. All the cousins. And my parents. May they rest in peace
Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)