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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

The Woman in My Family Who Lived Long and Left a Legacy

Posted on February 2, 2018 at 9:20 PM

Week 3 – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Longevity

The Woman in My Family Who Lived Long and Left a Legacy

By Carolyn V. Salley-Frink



Wow, what a great question…longevity to me used to mean someone living into their late 90s; or maybe even 100 years old and older. Now I see -- or shall I say-- I evaluate “living long” as a Legacy.  My grandmother, Ruth Hutto Washington along with my grandfather raised ten children: seven girls and three boys. My grandmother, Mama Ruth, was always referred to herself as truly blessed by her strength; love of family; and her craftiness by me, my siblings, and cousins.


Mama Ruth created homemade soap, knitted, crocheted, sewed and could get a stain out of just about anything. She raised her children to function as ONE unit. You ask ‘for real?!’ – yes, for real! When we went to Blackville, to visit her at least once a month from Columbia, everyone was there except my Aunt Reatha, who lived in New York with her family.  But we’d get Aunt Reatha on the phone so that everyone would and could talk to her, something that took place often times on a Sunday afternoon after church.


During the summers when we visited for any length of time, Mama Ruth would gather up her grands to bake cookies, knit, and crochet (making doilies mostly). She would also take us across the railroad tracks to pick these “weeds” and we would make yard brooms. The yard brooms were gathered at or near the base, tied with heavy thin rope and used to sweep the wooden porch and yes, to sweep the yard. My grandmother did not believe in “unemployment”, even among children, every grand had a section of the small yard or porch to sweep!


I didn’t know to listen to her stories about her childhood; I didn’t realize just how important her life growing up actually shaped her to be a loving Mother, Wife, and sister – even more so, a grandmother and great Grandmother! Her sisters visited her often. Sometimes, she’d gather her grands up and visit with her siblings, often staying for hours. They all stayed within walking distance of each other. Those visits have left lasting memories for me, my siblings, and my cousins, she was teaching us about family.


Once or twice a year, we would all go to the Blackville Colored Community Cemetery and clean the graves of our ancestors. We’d pull weeds and lay flowers. Mama Ruth told us who was who in the cemetery and how he or she was related; she also taught us to respect the final resting place of those who had gone before us.


Her legacy is and always will be about FAMILY: loving them (because of and in spite of), staying close, supporting one another, and sometimes just being there to listen. Mama Ruth passed away February 1979, but her children, grandchildren, great- grandchildren have continued her legacy; from the cradle to the grave, all you have your brothers and sisters and LOVE.  Mama Ruth’s longevity is in her legacy!



#52ancestors #kinfolksfamilyhistory #knowyourhistory #herstory #mystory

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