The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

I Remember Grandpa and Grandma

By Betty Jean Hayes © 1992

Issue: July-August-September, 1992

Lee and Rachel Nester of Laurel Fork, Virginia. (Lee Nester - 1875-1960, Rachel Nester - 1879-1966). Front Cover photograph of July-August-September 1992 edition.Lee and Rachel Nester of Laurel Fork, Virginia. (Lee Nester - 1875-1960, Rachel Nester - 1879-1966). Front Cover photograph of July-August-September 1992 edition.My mother's parents, Lee and Rachel Nester lived with us when we were growing up and I have such precious memories of them. When I was a little girl, I always thought I had the best grandparents in the whole wide world and now, looking back, I know I did.

They say all kids need a hero and mine was Grandma. Oh, she never did anything the world would say was outstanding, but to me she was a real southern lady. She was a good cook and worked all the time, but she was never too busy if any of the family or neighbors needed her. I never heard her speak a bad word about anyone. She said, "If you can't say anything good about a person, don't say anything at all," and she lived her life that way. I can remember crying and saying I hated someone. Grandma taught me that I didn't hate the person, I only hated their ways.

Grandma and I always milked the cows and it seems that was when we had our best talks. She was the sweetest, kindest person you would ever want to meet. As a little girl, I looked around at Grandpa, Dad, Mom and my big brothers and how tall everyone was. I thought, "If I can just get as tall as Grandma, I'll be happy." Well, I did grow that tall.

Looking back, my childhood must have been almost an ideal one. Sure we were poor in things here on earth, but we were rich in love. I never doubted the fact that I was loved by all my family. We had to work in the corn fields, hay fields, and gardens, but we always had plenty to eat. Grandma said, "It's no disgrace to be poor and wear patches but it is a disgrace to be dirty because water is free."

My grandparents must have been wonderful people to have been able to survive living in a house with eight stubborn, headstrong kids like us and that's not counting the other grandkids, cousins and neighbor kids that were around. When we had a houseful, Mom and Grandma would make pallets on the floor for us kids to sleep on. It was always lots of fun. In fact, no matter what we did we always had fun. We didn't have time to be bored like kids today.

Grandpa was a wonderful, soft spoken man and he did his share of teaching us the right way to live our lives. He always said, "If you tell a man you will do something, do it. A man is only as good as his word." We were taught to stand tall and to be proud of who we were. Grandpa would take me fishing with him. He would let me play in the water down stream from where he was fishing so I wouldn't scare the fish away.

All this time we spent with our parents and grandparents, they were talking to us and showing us the right way to do things. Now it seems the TV does the talking and showing the wrong way to live. I wonder what our children and grandchildren will remember about us?