Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blown Away But Not Forgotten

Albert Kennedy (1857-1928) and Martha “Sissie” Ealy Kennedy (1865-1895)

While home in Mississippi during the Christmas holiday, I had to make some time to drive out to Lena, Mississippi, my father’s hometown, to find the grave of his grandmother, Martha Ealy Kennedy. An elderly relative recently confirmed for me that she was also known as “Sissie”. Indeed, the FindAGrave website had an entry for her with a picture of her stone that was in Harmony Baptist Church Cemetery, Leake County, Mississippi. I was stunned. I didn’t know it existed.  I had to find it and see it for myself. I have walked Harmony Cemetery many times, but I never saw it. This time, I found it! 

After marrying my great-grandfather Albert Kennedy on December 28, 1881, Grandma Sissie had five children: Dora (1882-1940), Will (1884-1977), Robert "Rob" (1885-1977), Hulen “Newt” (1888-1970), and Wilson Kennedy (1891-1988). However, she died shortly after Uncle Wilson was born. When I was a teenager, my grandma Willie Ealy Collier, my father’s adoptive mother who was a double first cousin to his natural father Hulen Kennedy, first told me the story about Grandma Sissie. She was her aunt – her father Paul Ealy’s sister – who was blown away by a tornado. I had always ascertained that this sad and tragic day occurred "around 1895". My cousin Mavis here in D.C. remembers her father, Uncle Wilson Kennedy, talk about how his mother was found miles away from home in a ditch. Therefore, I always noted that Grandma Sissie died “around 1895,” because Grandpa Albert had remarried on July 19, 1896, ironically to a lady whose official name was Sissie Walker.  Her gravestone confirmed that 1895 was indeed the tragic year.

I can’t even imagine how my grandfather Hulen, his brothers, and their big sister Dora felt to lose their mother so suddenly and tragically on that stormy day in 1895. I am sure that Grandpa Albert was distraught to have his wife of 14 years taken away forever within minutes.  Then, to find her body miles away from home lying in a ditch must have added more “rubbing alcohol” to the open wounds. Grandma Sissie was laid to rest on top of Harmony Hill, as it was called, in Harmony Cemetery next to the church.  Words can’t express the joy in finding her grave with a nice headstone that withheld the test of time.  I don’t know the exact date in 1895 when that dreadful tornado hit the Lena community. Maybe one day, I will find some type of documentation that confirms it. Nevertheless, Grandma Sissie is being remembered. She is not forgotten.

R.I.P. Grandma Martha “Sissie” Ealy Kennedy
The inscription says, “She was the sunshine of our home.”
Daughter of Robert “Big Bob” Ealy and Jane Parrott Ealy

My grandfather Hulen "Newt" Kennedy - my father had recently placed those beautiful flowers on his grave earlier this year.