Beulah Henriette Renfro Branham Stiver -was my mom’s mom. She died today March 9th back in 2009, she was born on October 5,1914, Gran was almost 95 when she passed. While she did not raise Dorothy, she was her mother. (As you may recall on earlier posts- her granny raised her and her sister Delores- after their daddy died).
Mom never did have any stories about Beulah- they did not have a good mother-daughter bond. Nor did she have any lasting memories that she could/or can hold close to her heart. With the exception of few memories’ mom has shared with me about Beulah and her sister, Dutch- coming to see them every once in a while, there was no loving relationship between them. Mom always told me- when I would ask about her memories of her mom when she was a little girl- that she only remembers her bringing her and her sister new clothes and toothbrushes and hairbrushes- they never did anything or went anywhere together.
Beulah did not seem to have dementia- I was around her a lot for the last 25 years of her life- when she moved in with Dorothy back in the 1980’s. Her and mom lived together for almost a decade- until Beulah decided she wanted a place of her own. Mom found her a small apartment- close to her and made sure she was safe and took her to the grocery every week and to get her hair done. Beulah seemed fine to me every time I visited her, she new what was happening in the world and would read everyting she could get her hands on.
I was in awe of my mom at that time- who would be so kind and caring of someone who left her when she was so small and fragile – and only came around a couple times a year.
I can remember the time I took Dorothy and Beulah to the Fox Theatre in Atlanta to go see the Nutcracker. It is a cherished memory of mine- we all got dolled up, went out to dinner and spent the evening enjoying the show.
Beulah was better to me than she was to my mom. She took me to church with her on occasion when I was younger- probably from the age of 7 to 11. After the service we would go out to lunch and drive around the country or go to the garden centers in the spring and summer. I remember her always being dressed to the “nines”. Her outfits would be totally coordinating, the dress, hat, gloves, hose (the cool ones, with the lines up the back of your legs), shoes and purse, earrings, necklace, bracelets – they would all match. She was quite the fashion queen she was always looking sharp.
I am lucky enough to have been her only granddaughter, so I ended up with some of her jewelry- which I still have today, and when I want to channel her, I will pull a piece out of its special hiding place and wear it out- I always get compliments on whichever piece I choose. It brings a smile to my face and warms my heart – knowing that Beulah is happy that I’m “showing her off”.
Beulah decided that she wanted to die in Kentucky, it’s where she lived most of her life. She had another daughter there, my mom’s half-sister- Anna Carole- and she made sure Beulah had a good assisted living place to live out the remainder of her days. She died of old age within 5 years of moving.
I hope she did not die with any regrets- I hope she was at peace. I was not there when she took her last breath-but I did see her two months before she passed. She was content and had a peaceful look in her eyes and she knew who I was. When I hugged her for the last time and told her that I loved her, I knew I would never see her again- in this life. She was so fragile, so warm and she was so comfortable in our embrace.
I’m pretty sure she lived her life the way she wanted to- Beulah did it “My Way” by Frank Sinatra- give it a listen.
Love and Light!