Mabel Life & Times
By Mabel Boyd Royal-Steen, edited for the web by Dan Royal.©
It would be pretty disingenuous of me to say as a child I would sit, listen and retain the stories from Grandma Steen. Children seem to ignore the ancient ones-that could be anyone over 15 years of age-children just tend to live in their own world playing with their toys and imagination, sitting on the floor while the adults would visit.
I can't remember if it were right before or right after Christmas in 1969- I would be 12 at the end of the coming February. My mom, who thought the world of her children's great grandmother, brought my sisters Bonnie, Dianna and myself for a visit.
I can remember her presence and spirit quite well and the first thing she would do besides give her affections is ask if we were hungry? As she had done countless times to family and strangers alike.
It didn't seem like but a couple minutes she had popcorn popped and turned into caramel popcorn candy. All the while she was doing this she was holding herself up with that amazing cane of hers, which her daughter Shirley still has and uses herself.
How would I know the reason for her walking cane was crippling arthritis in her hips? I was just a kid! How could I know the sweet laughter in her high timbre voice-with tears rolling down her face when she was laughing too hard-hid the pain in her hips that she just seemed to be able to ignore. She just never made any excuses to not do what she needed to do in life to survive and make due.
How would I know when we said goodbye that day it would be the last time? Mabel Florence Boyd Royal, then Steen- went to God the first day of January 1970 to tend his garden. It broke everyone's heart as she was the matriarch of the family; who had attended her brood with strength, love, affection, discipline, humor and a force of will to use every blessed gift the good lord gave us-imperfect humans-to survive.
How shouldn't we know as imperfect people that it's OK to remember and feel touched in our hearts the spirit of those who've come before, especially ones such as Mabel? She and several other women in my life set great examples that I -fairly or unfarily- compare other women to.
How would I know that at the time of my birth she was writing down these stories I'm about to share with you? I didn't know of course, but I think she'd be pleased, as she was always pleased to share with anyone who was hungry.
Daniel Patrick Royal, great grandson to a great woman this day 20 August 2003.
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Mabel Life & Times
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