My grandmother, Lorine Moffett Barnes, was 83 years old when she died last week in a Floresville, Texas nursing home. When one is confronted by the death of a relative, acquaintances invariably offer condolences and lamentations of sorrow, whether they knew the deceased or not. I thank you all in advance for your notes of condolence. Now please grant me the indulgence of sharing her memory with you.
Grandma was the strongest female figure I have ever known. A rancher’s housewife, she could bake biscuits, a peach pie and cut a watermelon up for us grandkids in seconds flat. Her sweet iced-tea still makes my mouth water and my pancreas hurt when I think about it. She lived in an un-airconditioned farmhouse in South Texas cooking and sewing all day for the family. She’d go outside and chop a rattlesnake the dogs were tormenting in half with a hoe. She’d shoo cows out of the garden and take on the bull, who always stood down from her menacing gaze. She made quilts and crocheted pot holders and booties. Her laugh was raw and loud and almost up until she died she drove herself all around Texas, independent to the end.
I had one day’s notice before flying down to San Antonio for the funeral. I have spent five days amongst those grieving relatives not seen since the last funeral; uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, first cousins once removed, great aunts, great uncles and cousins with numbers too difficult to track without a diagram. While waiting for the funeral, the closest blood relatives gathered at her home and perused the assorted knickknacks, paintings, clothes, family quilts, jewelry and objets d’art acquired over the course of a lifetime. Since my grandmother was the last survivor of her generation, these items were dispersed among her two sons, five grandkids and 11 great grandchildren. Being the Barnes family genealogist, I got some bibles, photos and historical documents. Our family will miss her and I will do my best to honor her and her place on the family tree.