A special lady’s memory lives on
I think about her every time I open my kitchen drawer and see those two handmade potholders.
The circle fabric neatly held together by thread. There is even a tag with her name on it just to let you know she was the creator.
“Made with Tender Loving Care by Lilly Martin.”
The thought of her also comes to my mind during Sunday drives through the Oil City and Tinsley area. She spent many years in the small community and saw its bustling times.
Her memory stayed with me a little longer last Sunday when my family and I were riding through the area on our way home. Only a few days earlier, I had heard that Mrs. Martin passed away.
I met her casually through an interview. I have met many people with my profession. But she was one of those people who made a lasting impression.
It was probably the first interview that I didn’t want to leave. She welcomed me in her home that day, and she treated me like her own granddaughter. She even sent me home with a gift – those two handmade potholders.
I believe my first story with Mrs. Martin was honoring her birthday. Anyone who had as many years as she did under belt certainly had a story to tell.
Mrs. Martin passed away at 100 years old. If you can’t find a story in those years, then you’re either not looking or not listening.
I was all ears that day as her daughter, Mrs. Charline McGraw, sat beside her. We looked through old family photographs. For a moment, I began to notice the same faces in the album and even their names. She was sharing her history with me, and I was soaking it up.
Normally, after an interview, small talk is exchanged. Then an exit is close behind.
But Mrs. Martin was not the kind of person to just let you sneak out the door. Within minutes, we were buried inside her closet. She found two potholders she had handmade and shoved them into my hand. They were mine.
The gift all stemmed from a brief comment that I had made during the interview about my desire to learn how to sew. She began to go down a list of all the things she learned to sew in the beginning. She said potholders were rather easy to do.
I still use those potholders to this day. In fact, I pulled a tray of fish sticks out of the oven last night for my son’s supper.
The second time I was invited to Mrs. Martin’s house was during my story about the 70th anniversary of the oil boom in the Oil City and Tinsley area.
Once again, the door was wide open. A cool drink was offered. And the stories flowed much like the oil that seeped through my story.
I left there that day with pretty good indication of the kind of person Mrs. Martin was in her years. She was a kind wife, mother and lady. Lady is probably the best word I can find to describe her.
Always dressed in her best, with her hair neatly set, Mrs. Martin was a true lady. She had seen the good times and survived the worse. But I find it hard to imagine that she didn’t handle it all like a southern lady.
And although she may only be here in spirit and memories, I still have my potholders. I know that may sound silly.
I like to think her everytime I use them in the kitchen. I use them to prepare food for my family, offer love – much like she did.
But now for that one brief moment I use the holder around the handle of a cast iron skillet, I will smile.
It will be as if she continues to shake my hand.