Rhoda Belle was “one” of my granddaddy’s wives. I say “one” of them because he had a BUNCH. I counted eleven, one of my uncles said it was only eight, but I was counting girlfriends I guess that he didn’t actually marry. Granddaddy’s first wife died when my Mom was 14. She was only 32. Way too young to have to leave us. Momma said that just knocked the wind out of Granddaddy’s sails and he never found anyone that could ever take her place. Anyway, Rhoda Belle was the one he was with the longest after I was born so I considered her my grandma. She was a very petite lady who loved everyone and everyone loved her. She was a real sweetheart.
She never, I don’t remember even once, called me and my two brothers by our names the entire time she was married to my granddaddy. It was always That Girl, That Boy, and That Baby. But she was so good to us and we LOVED to visit.
Now this was a little lady that probably didn’t have a whole lot of education, but one of the lessons I learned from her goes much farther than any book could ever reach. When we would get up to leave their house, without fail, she would always say, “Hold on, don’t go yet. I’ve got something for you.” Sometimes it was something she had canned or pickled, sometimes it was a piece of material for my Mom to make something out of, sometimes it was a cake or pie. It might have been just a loaf of bread, but she just had to give us something. I don’t even think she had thought about it much before we started to leave, she just picked up the first thing she came to. It was always something good though 🙂
There was one instance that stands out in my mind. Seems like it was just yesterday. Us kids were really young and I can see us all standing at the door getting ready to leave. Granddaddy making us all laugh doing a dance called “Pattin’ The Rabbit” (Granddaddy is a whole other blog for another day when I’ve got butt loads of time cause he was a real character, that Granddaddy of mine). Anyway, we started out the door and Rhoda Belle hollers out, “Hold on, don’t go yet. I’ve got something for you.” This time she went running in the bathroom, stayed for a while and came out with several wash cloths and a really big purple box of Kotex and handed them to Momma. She said “I didn’t know ya’ll were coming today, so I didn’t have anything to give you but you can’t leave without something.” Momma hugged her and said “Thanks Belle” and we left and I guess that big old purple box of Kotex sit in the cabinet under our bathroom sink for months. So I saw it every time I opened the cabinet door. I think I was too young to even know exactly what they were for – but the box sure was pretty.
Later after us kids grew up, we enjoyed remembering how Rhoda Belle always had to give us something when we left. But you know what I learned? Never let anyone leave your presence without you giving them something to take with them. Doesn’t have to be a material object. You can give them a smile, a hug, an understanding nod of the head, or loving words. Always make sure that when they leave you, they’re better off than when they got there.
Now if we all did that, with all the coming and going people do these days, I figure things would sure be a lot different. And everybody would be happy and at the very least they’d be smiling.
Thanks Rhoda Belle. I sure do miss you.