I suppose I should be grateful for the rabbit holes I sometimes find myself in. They are a great distraction when the world seems to be spinning out of control.
Thursday night I was struck with insomnia which kept me up until almost 4:00 am. I pulled out my iPad and started doing some genealogy research which always has a number of available rabbit holes which are easy to tumble into. Thursday night was no different.
I have an account with Newspapers.com and I often search for articles related to my ancestors. I have found a number of interesting tidbits over the years, but mostly they are little society snippets that simply state where people were traveling, who they were visiting, or perhaps who had a new baby or had recently been hospitalized.
Recently I found advertisements my grandmother posted. One for room and board offerings, an another advertising for care positions.
My grandfather worked for the railroad and they moved around a bit. She eventually became an LPN, thus the ‘situations wanted’ ads.
Early Friday morning, I found an ad about two families that had traveled to my grandmother’s funeral. I knew as soon as I saw the names, Lane and Ford, who they were.
My grandmother’s best friend was a woman named Sallie. Their friendship was the first exposure I had to true female relationships. They exchanged letters and traveled to see one another when they could. I have vague memories of traveling to her house. It was the first home I saw that had the walls covered in dark wood paneling. Sallie’s maiden name was Ford, and she was in some way distantly related to Ernest J. Ford (Tennessee Ernie Ford).
Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I seem to recall my grandmother was a nurse for someone in the Ford family and that is how she and Sallie met.
These two women found a friendship that endured until my grandmother’s death. I remember how distraught she was at her funeral. They were both elegant ladies that grew up in a difficult time and their friendship saw them both through whatever trials they faced. It was something special and I knew it even at such a young age.
I started trying to connect the dots into the Ford family, but there were many many distracting rabbit hole. I delved into each of them. I learned that Ernie Ford died from liver disease brought on by alcoholism. His first wife was also an alcoholic who eventually took her own life. He remarried and his second wife did all she could do to drive a wedge between him and his children. It was the sad truth behind the local boy who made it big.
When my oldest sister was in the hospital to have her tonsils out, she was given an autographed photo of Ernie Ford. I am sure it came through Sallie. My grandmother had a music book full of Ernie Ford hymns. This is the image of the man I want to remember.
My late night discoveries made me mourn for a woman who lost her best friend (my grandmother) and her husband before she passed away. It was as if she died Friday morning even though her death was years ago. As far as Tennessee Ernie Ford, I am content to remember him through the music that connected me to him in the first place.