Before she became severely bed-ridden, there's a photo of her in a wheelchair in front of a big old 1930s Packard limousine with a ramp to the passenger compartment. It was obviously found or fashioned for her use by my father. But who drove her in this conveyance, I wonder? Married at seventeen, with seven children born over the space of twenty-four years, separation from her husband (although they never divorced), and numerous illnesses no doubt aged her prematurely. In late 1956, after five years of being completely bedridden following a stroke, the last three years with round-the-clock nurses, Nana Rose died at the age of seventy-eight of congestive heart failure. Remarkably, my father sang at her funeral. In spite of his sadness, he must have been relieved that this drain on his resources ceased at a time when he was beset by financial woes.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
James Melton and Rose Thornton Melton c. 1940s
I remember my father's mother, "Nana Rose," but only in her later years, as an invalid, lying in a high hospital bed in the home my father had purchased for her and his youngest sister, Mary, in Jacksonville, Florida. My father had been his mother's sole support for thirty years. He adored her, and sent her an orchid for her pillow every Sunday during her invalid years, and periodically hired an ambulance to drive her—hospital bed and all—around Jacksonville.