What a Wonderful Influence She Was

I’ve been fortunate to have some good people in my life. I could mention teachers or friends for example, all of whom helped me in one way or another, but the person who had the greatest influence on me was my paternal grandmother. Her name was Pearl Bagwell before she married, and she had a hard time when she was young. Her mother was murdered when she was just a small child. They found the body in the family orchard. This was the early 1900s so not much was ever done about it. Her father didn’t like being saddled with two small children. He gave them away to their uncle who made him sign a paper relinquishing all rights to his children. I’ve seen the paper. It was handwritten on a piece of white paper. Uncle Will kept the paper and gave it to my grandmother when she married.

She married Charlie Pace who became my grandfather. I could probably write a huge article about him, but I’ll save that for another day. As a young married couple they both went to work in the textile industry. They were thrifty people who soon saved enough money to buy their own house. They had two sons. My father was their younger child.

My grandmother was known in the community as a kind and loving lady. She shared what she had freely with anyone who needed help, and I never heard her say a bad thing about someone else. She attended church every Sunday and truly lived the lessons she learned there. She carried my father to church when he was young, and later he took me.

By the time I was born she had three grandsons so that made me the first granddaughter. Whenever she visited our house I immediately packed the small suitcase that I had, intending to spend the night with her. I’m sure there were times when she’d have rather I stayed home, but she always smilingly took me with her. I’ve spoken about her on the blog before. Her stories were absolutely fabulous. I was spellbound when she started talking. I bet she would have been a great writer herself. At any rate, with her stories she encouraged my imagination, which I think a writer has to have.

She used to babysit my sister and me during the summer when we weren’t in school. She knew that my mother would be tired after working all day so she cooked a nice dinner for us. She was a great example to me of how to treat your family. I’d love a taste of her fried chicken again.

She modeled compassion for others besides her family. The people who lived across the road from her had a huge number of children. I played with them some, but I don’t remember exactly how many there were. Money was always a little tight for them. On Saturday night my grandmother would bake a cake for their Sunday dinner and take it to them. I spoke to one of those children a few months ago when we met in a store. He told me how much his family had appreciated my grandmother’s gesture as they seldom had dessert for dinner.

She was a shining beacon of kindness, compassion, service, and love throughout my entire life. She died in 1971 of stomach cancer. Even now I miss her. She didn’t preach to her grandchildren, but she taught us by the way she lived her life, and therefore we learned from her.

About Elaine Cantrell

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America. Her first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Press. When she isn't writing you can find Elaine playing with her dog or maybe collecting more vintage Christmas ornaments
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6 Responses to What a Wonderful Influence She Was

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    beautiful story of a beautiful person.
    We really needed this topic this week… because it reminds us of how powerful a life can be… for even the most humble people. People, like your grandmother, who overcame such adversity and trauma from her own early life… yet spent her many subsequent decades modeling compassion, generosity, and kindness.


    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      I still often think of her, and there are still people in the community who remember her and tell me about their memories of her.


  2. How wonderful for you. I only knew one grandparent, my mother’s mother, whom I seldom saw, and who did not speak English. She was, however, warm and terribly pleased that I was named after her, (to an extent; my mother rather stretched the truth that she changed her name somewhat).


  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Your grandma was one strong woman! How wonderful that you had her for as long as you did.


    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      She survived a lot that would have floored many people, but she never felt sorry for herself and loved others all of her life.


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