The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Little Granny

By Margaret G. Murray © 1987

Issue: May, 1987

"Little Granny" and Earnest Murray."Little Granny" and Earnest Murray.It is Sunday morning. The small, country church is filled to capacity with several visitors scattered among the regular members. From the pulpit a woman's voice is raised in song of praise of her Lord Jesus Christ. At a very spry 77 years young, Georgia May Murray is carrying on a tradition she began at the tender age of six when she sang hymns for a favorite uncle. Down through the years she's honored many requests from family, friends, and strangers alike with her singing.

Although her voice has started to break, it still reaches to the far corners of numerous churches here in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia. Never one to be concerned with a church's denomination, she stands ready to sing whenever she is called upon to do so. Along with her singing, her outspoken religious beliefs have touched a large majority of hearts along the way.

When her song comes to a close, she automatically steps down and reaches for the pastor's hand. Next comes a heartfelt testimony.

"No matter what kind of life you live, somebody will have something to say about you after you're gone. That's why I try to preach my funeral each day I'm alive."

Georgia Mae Wells Murray was born into the family of Joseph and Rettie Gibson Wells on March 1, 1910 at Norton, Virginia. She was their fifth child. They already had Andrew, Bob, Sally, and Willard. Another son, Hubbard, was to be their last child.

While still a youngster, Georgia Mae was faced with growing up alone with her four brothers after Sally up and married off. She soon found herself involved in dozens of boyhood pranks. From climbing trees to riding a broken chair down a snow covered hill, nothing was to dangerous or strenuous for her to try. Listening to Georgia Mae as she recounts the days of her childhood, her audience is made aware of the tremendous effect her family had on her life.

The love and respect she had for her parents' shines through as she tells of the values they tried to teach their children. Their father was responsible for turning them into fine, upstanding citizens while their mother took care of their religious teachings. Joseph ruled his family with an iron hand, but it was Rettie who handed out all disciplinary action.

On January 18, 1925 Georgia married Earnest Murray after literally knocking him off his feet. At the time of their initial meeting, Earnest was forced to hobble around on crutches after injuring his left leg in a mining accident. They came face to face when Georgia, who was playing hide and go seek with some of her girlfriends, ran into Earnest in the dark. The poor man never knew what hit him, for along with losing his crutches and finding himself flat on his back, he also lost his heart.

This union was to last for fifty eight years before coming to an end on May 1, 1983 when Earnest lost his heroic battle with cancer. Out of this marriage came eight children, seventeen grandchildren, and eighteen great-grandchildren.

With so many little ones around the house, it wasn't long before Georgia was given the name of Little Granny. Now it seems the name is taking on greater significance. Old and dear friends have started calling her Granny Murray.

Little Granny often delights the members of her family by telling them how much she loves them in a special way. She will look the child or sometimes one of the adults smack dab in the eye and say, "I love you as much as a cat loves cream."

When Little Granny was saved and baptized in the year 1939, she prayed for a shouting religion like the kind her mother was given. But this was not to be. Her faith in God Almighty is expressed through tears and in her singing. Time after time people have inquired as to how she can remember the words to the old time songs she sings, especially after seventy one years. Her reply is always the same, "God sings me. All I have to do is open my mouth and out it comes."

Along with her singing, Little Granny has earned a reputation for herself in another area of her life. Her love of cooking has brought people from all walks of life to her kitchen table. On several occasions she has been known to invite the whole congregation to Sunday dinner. It is during these times that she loves to boast, "I bet I've fed more people than anybody in the United States."

Little Granny is like a breath of springtime. Her outlook on life is something to be envied by everyone who comes in contact with her. She sees something good in everyone and everything. She has an appreciation for life that surpasses the limits of everyday living. In her heart and mind is a vision of a better place. Something to look forward to and work toward.

Even in her lowest moments she never fails to give God the praise for sparing her life for yet another day. She never sits down to a meal without thanking Him for his many blessings. For her the very air she breathes is a sign of His goodness.

Her prayers are always filled with thoughts of her children, her grandchildren, and great grandchildren. A lot of times the wives and husbands of her children bring forth their own special prayer from her heart. She never closes her eyes at night without asking God's forgiveness of her sins and thanking him for the day.

In most instances, as we travel down life's pathway we seldom chance to meet someone as special as Little Granny. She has truly earned the love and respect bestowed upon her by family and friends. I am just one out of hundreds of people who will one day look back and remember a favorite song, a delicious meal, or a special smile filled with love, all thanks to a grand lady called Little Granny. To the sweetest and dearest mother in law a person could ever have, I dedicate these words.