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Birthday wishes November 13, 2006

Posted by clumsyraine in Family, NaBloPoMo.

(I realize this is really long. Thanks in advance for reading some or any of it. It will just make my heart happy to know people are thinking about her at all today. If you would, at least read the part I typed up from her own words at the end.)

Today, November 13, my grandmother would have been 93 years old. November 13th, 1913. Thirteen in my family is a lucky number because of her; everyone always joked that if there were a thirteenth month, she would have been born in it.


Even though she’s been gone for nearly 3 1/2 years, I’m acutely aware of her absence almost every single day. I often see the world, or my life, in phases and events that she’s missed (my wedding). Or will miss (holding my children, some of the last of the great-grands since I’m the youngest grand). Things I’m missing (hearing stories about her life now that I’m old enough to appreciate them).

The birthday wishes I’m thinking of are selfish ones; I wish I could have her back for a day. Oh, the stories she could tell in just one day wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface, I know. But it would be enough to get me a little further. A little closer, actually, to her. She passed away when I was still away at school. 2 months from graduating. 2 more months and I would have been home again, to sit with her and listen to her stories. All day and all night. If she kept talking, I would have stayed up and kept listening. Why did she have to go when I was just barely old enough to realize that I needed to, wanted to listen to her stories?

My mom and I lived with her practically my entire life. But I barely remember her stories… I heard them so many times they were just comforting background noise. I hadn’t yet learned to hang on her words, and memorize the stories for my own. I thought I had time. The day before she died, I thought I had time. I had been home for the weekend, and headed back for my 2 hour drive late Sunday night. “You’re leaving? Do you have to go?” “Yes grandmoma, I have to go. I have to go back and finish school. I graduate really soon, and then I’ll be home. Just a couple more months…”

She was gone before lunch the next morning. And I was in my stupid class.

I was so angry after she died. I wasn’t angry at her for leaving, or at God for taking her. Isn’t this stupid? I was angry, hatefully, viciously (inwardly, silently) angry at everyone in the world who had more time with her than I had. It sounds ridiculous, but I still get mad when I think about it, when I let myself think about it alot. It just is so horribly unfair to me that I only had 20 years with her when other people got 30 or 60 or almost 90. 20 years! That’s not even a blink.

I haven’t stopped crying since I started writing, but I don’t mind. I like writing and knowing that even one person will be reading about this wonderful lady I loved so much. The only problem I’m having is that I’m complaining so much when I really wanted to just tell you about her.


She was a beautiful, wonderful, loving, caring, kind, faithful, devoted Christian woman, mother, wife, grandmother, churchgoer, neighbor, aunt, friend. Born in 1913. Married in 1929. She had 2 kids in the 1930’s, my aunt and my uncle, and 2 baby boys around then who died in infancy I believe. She was a homemaker, and a seamstress for the public. My mother was a welcome surprise, she came along in the 1950’s.

When my aunt and uncle were very young, my grandmother was stricken with polio. One Sunday morning sitting in Sunday School, she had a strange vision of herself rolling across the room in a wheelchair. Later that same week, she woke up and couldn’t move her legs. I gather that there were lots of doctors and hospital visits after that, but she never walked again.

The tall, black haired beauty I see in pictures is foreign to me. I think she was 5’8″ or 10″ or something along those lines, but I never knew it growing up. I wish I could have seen her then. But then, I didn’t need to; she was so strong, courageous. It never slowed her down anyway. She was active in the church, in the family. Everybody loved her, no one could forget her.


This can be evidenced, by a pink, flowery gift bag I was looking through tonight. For my grandmother’s 83rd birthday, my mom and I sent out an announcement to every friend and family member we could find, and we asked them all to send her a card, letter, most of all a memory. And send they did. All of those cards and notes were collected in a pink flower giftbag by her bedside. I pulled out the bag tonight, and I went through cards and notes for nearly 3 hours. I didn’t even get through half of them.The themes that ran through the ones I read were so neat.

“I loved coming over to your house on Saturday nights when I was little because you always made the best hamburgers.” There were quite a few notes about her hamburgers. Maybe that’s why hamburgers are one of the first things that come to my mind when we have guests over. It was one of the first things I remember cooking with her.

“Thank you for my wedding dress. I will treasure it forever and hope to be able to pass it down someday.” How many wedding dresses did she make I wonder? It must be dozens. I wish I had a picture of them all… I always thought she’d make my wedding dress. Even though she was bedridden and hadn’t sewn in years, when I told her I was getting married a few months before she died, we started talking logistics, on how she could fit me from her bedside and with mine and my mom’s help, it would get done. I wish it had.

This is getting so much longer than I had ever imagined. I’m tempted to pare it down for the sake of my readers, but I just can’t. Don’t actually want to.

I’m just going to end this with the surprise I found in the pink bag. On the back of an envelope and other scraps of paper, she started writing a bit of a memoir. Oh, how I wish she had gone on. But, here’s what I found:

Moved into town. Mama kept boarders – room and board. Hoyt came to live in 1927 – I was just 14 yrs. He told me the first time he saw me he was going to marry me, even tho’ he had to wait for me to grow up.

Wedding day – December 22, 1929

1929 – I turned 16 – We had dated a few times, Hoyt always the perfect gentleman, all respect. We never tho’t of us sleeping together before our marriage. November 13, 1929, I turned 16. Soon after he proposed – after Hoyt asked my parents permission to marry, which they gave. Mama wote a note to the County Clerk (which by the way – was my brother Jim) giving their permission. Gave us the license – Jim would not take any money which was $3.00. 1929 we were deep in depression, work was scarce. Pay was very small, a good part of the time Hoyt made $7-$10 a week. We lived on with Mama and shared what we had with the family. Laura & Joe were still at home, Joe worked most of the time.

Eggs were 10 cents a dozen. Bacon was 5 cents a pound. So that $10 went farther than you might think.

1930, the state paved Highway 80 thru’ Midland. Hoyt went to work – finishing concrete for the company – learning while doing. In 3 months he was made foreman of the finishing crew. When the job was finished the company made him an offer to go with the co. to Stanford for the same work.

Early 1931 – we moved to Stanford to pave the highway from there to Munday, about 50 miles of paving. By this time, he was making 50 cents an hour – we were living good – paying rent and groceries.

50th Anniversary

Hoyt went ahead and found us an apt. – then I joined him. My first time away from home – I missed my family. But we were so much in love. Hoyt was such a good person – so tho’tful and kind. The best husband I could ever have found. I was so happy keeping our little apt. & learning to cook, which I knew so little about when I married. I cried when things didn’t turn out right. He loved Baby Lima Beans, cooked down low so the soup was thick. Invariably I let them scorch, trying to get them just right. My biscuits were so hard – you could make a fence with them. My pies – one time the crust would be so tough you couldn’t cut it. Next time, it was so tender you couldn’t life it out of the pan. But never one time did he complain about anything. He would say “this isn’t bad at all, it tastes good.”

Later on down the years he would say he learned to like the scorched beans. If I didn’t scorch them he would tell me to put them back and let them scorch. I will never forget his patience. The times he bragged on things when I know he could hardly swallow it – we didn’t have a weight problem during that time, HA! But this was the kind of person he was. Because of his attitude I learned to be a pretty good cook. If he had been one to complain and criticize – wouldn’t have had the heart to try.

Our first apt. was with an older couple. Their children were married and gone. They were so good to us, especially me. I was so young. We called them Daddy Joe and Mama Davis.

Mama Davis made shrouds, a kind of soft neglige for the funeral home for women to be buried in. I helped her some with the handwork, pressing while she sewed. She also made covered buttons and belts for the public. Years later (about 30 years) we bought her button machine from her, as she retired. By now I was into dressmaking for the public. We had kept in touch with them all those years as we did with so many of the people we met during those years (6-8 years) that we traveled building highways back & forth across Texas.

Our next move was 3 months later. We moved 15 miles to Haskel. Hoyt had an Uncle & Aunt that lived out on a sheep ranch there. That was Uncle George & Aunt Addie, she was Hoyt’s Daddy’s sister. Hoyt had not seen them in years. He knew they lived htere and one of the first things we did after we found an apartment was to look them up. They had a daughter that lived in Haskel. John & Georgia, and their two sons John & George.

We found an apt. just a block up the street from them. It was such a joy to know all of them. They took us in with open arms. We joined hte Bapist Church where they attended. That’s one of the first things we did when we went to a new place was to find a church.

I wish she hadn’t stopped writing. I enjoyed reading all of the notes she received, but it was such a joy to read her own writing. To get to read a hint of the stories I feel like I missed out on.

I love you. I miss you. Happy birthday.

Sarah Meneta Burris
November 13, 1913 – June 9, 2003



1. Jenna - November 13, 2006

Great blog, I love reading about your grandmother, and the pictures were wonderful. Thank you for sharing a piece of her with me.

2. lora lynn christensen - November 14, 2006


Thank you for such sweet memories today; we all loved Aunt Neta so very much. She was truly a lady to be admired.

3. Nora Beth - November 14, 2006


Thank you for adding to my memories of my favorite Auntie (now don’t let the others know this, grin) i to wish for mor of the stories of the past. Aunt Neta was truly an example for many of us on how to live life to it’s fullest and than some!!

4. Tanya BenniQue Blasini (AKA Garvin & Betty's middle kid!) - November 30, 2006

Beautiful & touching, thanks for sharing your thoughts, and Aunt Neta’s too! The photo’s are priceless. I’m sending her a bushel of kisses in heaven!

5. Sue Daniels - November 30, 2006

Jennifer: I finally was able to read this today due to my computer ignorance. This is truly a great tribute to a great lady. We all loved Aunt Neta and Uncle Hoyt. Thanks for his picture, too.

6. lori hoover - November 17, 2013

How Jennifer that was wonderful I would like to hear more stories I wish it was still the same price as it was then instead of what the prices are now.

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