Who is fannie jane?

She was my great-grandmother.  A little bitty, sweet and sassy, strong southern woman, born in the gently rolling hills of southeast Kentucky where Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky meet.  

When she was a young girl her parents moved the large family to southern Illinois in hopes of a better life, farming a nice little piece of land.  That must have suited her just fine, because for the rest of her life she was a farm girl. You may have heard the expression "She may be little, but she be mighty" . . . well,  that describes her perfectly. 

My mom would smile when she recalled the first time she met Fannie Jane.  Not long after my parents were married they drove across the country to visit my dad's side of the family.  The morning sun was just peeking out over the horizon, and glow of the oil light lanterns on the porch welcomed them as they pulled up the long dirt drive. Two wooden rocking chairs and an old oak barrel with a tin bucket full of petunias greeted them as they stepped onto the wooden  porch.  Tired, but eager to present his new bride to his grandparents, Dad opened the white screen door and ushered Mom in.  The smell of coffee greeted them as they made their way through the farmhouse to the tiny kitchen where they found Fannie Jane busy making biscuits and gravy.  Her once dark hair, now laced with silver, was braided and wrapped in a bun.  A brightly colored apron made from flowered feedsack was tied around her waist.  As she caught a glimpse of mom and dad, her blue eyes twinkled and her face lit up with a smile. She pulled off her apron and brushed the flour from her dress. 

Dad proudly introduced his new bride to his grandma and grandad, Elijah. My mom put out her hand, but Fannie Jane wasn't having that - she grabbed her and gave her a warm, welcoming hug. They had no sooner begun telling stories about their trip from California and all the adventures they had when Fannie Jane threw her hands up and exclaimed:  "Oh no you don't."   She grabbed the shotgun hanging on the wall, opened the back door and began shooting at some crows in the garden.  She came back into the kitchen, calmly put her apron back on and got back to her biscuits and gravy like nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.  I can just imagine what a culture shock that was for Mom, who was raised in San Francisco.  I guess you could say Fannie Jane made quite a first impression. 

Sadly, I don't remember her, as I was around 2 years old when she passed,  but Ina Pearl, my grandma, was her daughter.  I can truthfully say the apple didn't fall far from the tree!  She and my grandad were such a big part of my life, and my siblings and I loved them dearly.  I sat by her side as she knit and crocheted, and worked along side her in her vegetable and zinnia garden.  I learned a few basic skills, felt the satisfaction of working with my hands, and experienced the joy of creating something wonderful.  I can still hear her telling me "Not so tight!" as I cast my yarn onto my knitting needle.  There began my lifelong desire to create, and it is still going strong!