In lieu of a professional post, I'm going to post a copy of my personal blog. In it, I describe the legacy my grandmother left to me and all who knew her. Because I inherited my talent as a writer from her, I feel that it is very appropriate to dedicate today's blog to her. I was also honored to write her obituary.
A Lifelong Legacy
How do you summarize a person’s life in words? Though I am struggling with what to say and how to say it, I feel obligated to memorialize my beloved grandmother, despite the inadequacy of words in expressing a lifetime of valuable impressions. I know that my grandmother had a profound effect on numerous people, and to document the extent of her influences, I would have to write volumes. I can, however, share a small portion of how much she meant to me.
My grandmother, Virginia Dare Patterson Carlisle was named after Virginia Dare, the first baby born in the colonies that would become the United States of America. My grandmother was proud of this, as she was proud to be an American. She was also proud to be from Choctaw County. Having lived in Ackerman, French Camp, and Weir, my grandmother loved Choctaw County. If your grandparents were born in Choctaw County, then she could probably tell you a great deal about your heritage, as she enjoyed researching heritage and family lineages. An avid gardener, it seemed as if my grandmother could grow anything. She was a loving wife and mother, and though her husband had died years earlier, she never wanted to remove her wedding rings, even when her fingers were swollen. Wife of Jack Carlisle, she was a proud attorney’s wife and could recall momentous cases tried by her husband that resembled a scene from a movie. She was a grandmother to four grandchildren, and she had one great-grandchild. I can only imagine the depth of her versatility; oh, what change she witnessed in her lifetime. Having survived The Great Depression and numerous wars, she remembers a time before running water, televisions, cell phones, and computers.
For us grandchildren, she touched us in unique and individual ways. My cousin Scott would probably tell you that she provided a haven of shelter, love, warmth, family, and southern hospitality when he decided to go to college in the South. My cousin Leslie might say that my grandmother taught her how to be a strong, independent woman who can stand up for what she believes. My brother would say that my grandmother showed her grandchildren unconditional love, and no matter what mistakes we made, she never loved us any less.
I’ve been told that I have a lot in common with my grandmother. Luckily, I inherited her high cheekbones; when I see pictures of her from days past, I am amazed at her beauty. She was a writer, and though she never wrote professionally, she did self publish books of poems. Her poetry is amazing. My brother also writes poetry. I’ve talked a lot about writing as in inherent talent, and if I do, indeed, have talent as a writer, I attribute that talent to her. My grandmother was independent, and some might even describe her as stubborn. Similarly, I am also very independent, and yes, even stubborn. After she had a stroke, my grandmother was eating on her own within a couple of weeks. Even when her health declined to a point where walking was difficult, she would get up out of the bed and try to walk on her own. She was a fighter. She was strong, and she never gave up on anything. I know how she felt. Though I have limitations due to my scoliosis, in my head, I still think that I can surpass those limitations by attempting it, sometimes to my own detriment.
I think like my grandmother. My grandmother loved life. That, in itself, is an accomplishment. Life is difficult, and despite the difficulties that life presents, she loved life. She viewed the beauty in life, as apparent through flowers, sunsets, and birds. For her, each day was a blessing, a miracle. At Christmas, my husband wheeled her in front of the Christmas tree so she could sit and admire the tree. Unlike so many others, she acknowledged the beautiful things in life, whether large or small. For her, life was a gift, not a punishment. I agree that life is a gift, and each day, I will strive to appreciate it as she did every day.
I have a million memories of my grandmother. From the moment I was first born, she was there, every present in all of my best reminiscences. What legacy does she leave? She leaves an awe-inspiring legacy in her family. Through us, she lives on, forever. Smart, independent, funny, wise, and loving. She was all of these things. She was a resilient woman who never gave up hope, someone who saw the glass as half-full. Always classy and refined, she was the epitome of a Southern Lady. There is no legacy greater than to achieve the love and respect of your family. I can only hope that the legacy I leave will be a fraction of the one that she bequeathed to the ones who loved her the most.
I can see my grandmother embracing her mother and her father. I can see her smiling and telling them about her life, about her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandson. “I told them all about you,” she says. I can almost see her embracing her husband, and giving her a crooked smile and a mischievous wink, he laughs and hugs her. “You have a grandson named Jack Carlisle,” she says. With his head slightly askew, he beams. “I know.” Finally, my grandmother, young and beautiful, sees her daughter. They smile at one another in an unspoken bond, and they grasp hands.
Again, I cannot even begin to summarize the impact that my grandmother made on the world. Those who knew her don’t have to be reminded of that impact.
In the last conversation I had with my grandmother, she told me something that I will never forget. “In my mind,” she said, “I’m still young.” With age, we do acquire wisdom, but we also develop a desire to impart that wisdom on the world. I’ve been described as having an ‘old soul,’ but in my heart, my grandmother will always have a ‘young soul.’
Virginia Patterson Carlisle 1918-2013
Virginia Patterson CarlisleAckerman, MS Virginia P. Carlisle, 94, went to be with the Lord on January 9, 2013. Funeral services will be held at Coleman Funeral Home in Ackerman, MS, on January 12, 2013, at 11:00 AM, with visitation preceding the service at 10:00 AM. Reverend Alex Coblentz will be officiating. Interment will follow the service at Enon Cemetery.
She was born on December 23, 1918, in French Camp, Mississippi, and was received into the Weir Presbyterian Church in August of 1927 by the late L.A. Beckman, Jr. Mrs. Carlisle lived in Ackerman but was a lifelong resident of Choctaw County. She was a member of French Camp Presbyterian Church.A beloved homemaker, Mrs. Carlisle was also a poet and an historian. Mrs. Carlisle privately published poetry books and a historical record of Choctaw County titled Ye Olde Scrapbook: A Portrait of Choctaw County before the World Changed. Mrs. Carlisle was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She loved nature and was an avid gardener.
Mrs. Carlisle was preceded in death by her parents, William F. Patterson and Snowflake Bowie Patterson; her brother, Wallace Patterson, her husband, Jack B. Carlisle, and her daughter, Virginia Ann Carlisle. She is survived by her sister, Mary Lee Bowen of Jackson, MS, her daughter Jacquelyn (Steve) Evans of Blairsville, GA, her son William T. Carlisle (Vickki) of Ackerman, MS; her grandchildren, Scott (Edie) Evans, Kimberly (Craig) Coghlan, Jack Carlisle, and Leslie Evans; her great grandson, Will Evans, and nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers will be Scott Evans, Jack Carlisle, Craig Coghlan, Kenny Clark, Billy Prewitt, and Larry Littlejohn. Honorary pallbearers will be Dennis Dobbs, Donald Nunn, Lewis Ward, John Robert Cockrell, T.L. Bowie, and James Neal Henderson.
Though she will be deeply missed by all who knew her, Mrs. Carlisle’s family celebrates her homecoming with the Lord and the family who preceded her into the kingdom of heaven. Her enchanting smile, persistent determination, and loving nature will live on in the many memories her family holds dear.Memorials can be made to French Camp Presbyterian Church.