Monday, March 19, 2012

Margaret Evelyn Johnson Cotten 1929-2012


One week ago today Margaret Cotten left this life and went home to be with her Lord.  She was a remarkable woman, wife to Claude for almost 62 years, mother to six children (one deceased), grandmother to twenty (one deceased), and great-grandmother to twenty-seven.

I was one of the lucky ones who got to call her "Grandma".   I am sad that she is gone but I am thankful to have had her for so many years and for having so many good memories. Yesterday we attended a memorial service for her, there were many memories shared about her. All week long I have been reflecting on some of my memories of her.


 As children we got to visit her a lot.  Although she lived in a different town we were able to go spend a couple nights with her or stay the weekend at their house. My grandparents moved many times, I do not know the number but I remember my grandmother talking about how many different houses she had lived in during her lifetime.  I remember several of their houses, and although I have good memories of each, I think my favorite is the log house. I remember visits there with just my family, staying there with some of my girl cousins and staying there with all the aunts and uncle and cousins.  Those were crazy times, so many people staying under one roof. As a child these were wonderful times, having several days of playing 24/7 with your cousins. While the adults played Trivial Pursuit or Risk upstairs, the kids would play in the basement. We would put on records of marching bands or patriotic music and spend hours marching around the basement, running around in our socks and shocking each other with the static electricity.

There were times I spent several days at Grandma's house with some of my girl cousins. Grandma would let us play in her sewing room, rearranging her sewing notions.  Sometimes she would make us something, I remember one time she made me a thin, pink robe. I thought it was just like what a princess would wear.
One thing I always remember was that she always treated us like guests in her house. Even as a young girl staying at her house you felt like you were a guest. There were pretty sheets on the bed, towels laid out for you. Sometimes she brought you a cup of tea in the morning. I remember how she would read out loud to us. Sometimes books that were for our age, sometimes excerpts out of books she was reading.  I remember her reading Little Women and Under the Lilacs to us. I remember her reading parts from the Little Colonel series. I remember her reading chapters out of Claudia and David, though she cautioned us that the book was not appropriate yet for our age.


I remember being fascinated with her collector plates she had sitting on her bookcase, especially the ones depicting scenes from Gone with the Wind. I remember that when she sold her collection she did not get a high price for the collection because she didn't sell the entire set, she saved the "Melanie" plate for me.

I remember how sentimental she was, how she saved letters and things you made for her. She saved trinkets and mementos from her parents and ancestors. I remember how sad she was when the police officer came to the house to tell her that although they had located a few pieces of silver that had been stolen from the house they had not recovered the keepsakes taken from her dresser.


Grandma loved flowers, she almost always had some sort of fresh flower in her house. Whether a bouquet, or a couple pansies in a tiny vase. She would take us to visit gardens during garden week. I can hardly think about Grandma without thinking of flowers. Or music, she loved music too. She liked to play and sing at her piano, she liked to listen to music, hymns or classical.  I remember her taking us to hear classical music at the local school.


Many people have reflected on how ladylike she was. She was gentle, she was kind. She was old fashioned even for her time. At times we took delight in shocking her, it took very little effort to get a gasp from her. Her manners, politeness were an influence on those around her, she inspired good behavior.  I often thought she could have been transported back 100 years and fit into that culture easily. Losing Grandma really does seem like an end to an era. She did not have an easy life but she led a life of gratitude for her blessings, commitment to her husband and family and commitment to her Lord. She was truly a lady and she will be missed. 


'til next time...

14 comments:

  1. Great post Mel !I'm glad you have such great memories of your Grandma!

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    1. Thank you Janet! We do have great memories of her, we were lucky to have her for so long!

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  2. Thanks for sharing this. I feel like I know your Grandma and I know more about you. You inherited your Grandma's ability to make visitors feel very special - nice to know where it came from.

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    1. Thank you Mardee, that is true praise indeed!

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  3. Very nice Sis. I will always remember the candy cigarettes at the log home:) She always had gum in her purse,and I think it was Red perfume that she wore. All I know is whenever I smell it, I think of her.

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    1. I forgot about the candy cigarettes, she was so horrified!

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  4. Mell, another excellent post. I need to get copies of these pictures, some of them I have never seen before.

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    1. I scanned those in for this post, do you want me to email them to you?

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  5. This was so sweet and fun to read! I for sure was one of the ones that loved to make her gasp :) There are some things that will make me always think of her!
    Classical music and her floating around the living room to it telling Abby and I that was her excerise for the day :) Trident gum in her purse,the smell of her perfume,the little bakery around the corner that we would go buy cinnamon bread from. So many things!
    We were lucky to have such a sweet Grandma!!

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    1. Yes we were! I forgot about the dancing to classical being her exercise, I remember that too!

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  6. So fun to read this Melanie! What a person to aspire to be like.
    Was truly wonderful to see you twice this month even though we wouldnt have chosen those circumstances.
    Love you!
    Abbs

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    1. It was good to see you too! Love you, MCR

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  7. Melanie,

    I read with interest the account of your grandmother's life as seen through your eyes. I had the privilege of knowing her and your family over the years starting with my working on the farm in Crozet, VA (one of the many homes they lived in), then working for Claude's construction company and including being the builder of that log cabin you played in as a child. I can tell you that a lot of love and attention went into its construction and I personally built the over 30 interior doors by hand. I'm glad that part of grandparents' lives brought so much joy to all of her children and friends and I could be a part of that.

    Your grandmother was a remarkable person and her passing to be with the Lord is a testament to a life well-lived in Him.

    Best regards,

    Kirt Kirtland

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    1. Mr. Kirtland,
      I never knew you built the doors for the log house. As soon as I read that I had a vision of the doors, I remember being fascinated by the latches. I can actually hear the click as they latched, what memories! Thank you for building such a beautiful house, I will always treasure those memories.

      She was truly a lovely lady, such a beautiful spirit and testimony. I feel honored to have had her in my life.

      Thank you for your comments. ~Melanie

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