The Help was especially poignant to me because of my own special relationship with my "fake grandmother" Ovella. Y'all, I was composing this post in my head last night before I went to sleep, and became so emotional. I'm glad Hubs was in Columbia for work- he would have thought I was a crazy person when he glanced over at me and saw tears streaming down my face. He already thinks I'm pretty nutty actually, so it might not make too much of a difference, I suppose.
Ovella came into my family's life when Mama was three, and cute as a button (though probably no less trouble than her two older sisters and older brother)-
It was about 1954 and Ovella had recently moved to Knoxville from working in a house in Buckhead. She grew up on a farm in Georgia on a farm with 15 brothers and sisters- including 2 sets of twins. Ovella had a twin named Rosella, who died when she was born. The other set of girl twins were named Novella and Osella. I can't remember them now, but as a child I loved to reel off the names of all sixteen, memorized like a nursery rhyme. Many of the siblings died, so there were eight children growing up, with Ovella as the baby. This was baffling to me as a child since the youngest was my baby brother- hard to imagine a seventy year old woman being the baby when you're five.
I love this picture- I look so content in Vella's arms.
Ovella did not have children of her own, as she married David later in life. David had worked on the railroad and lost a leg in the process. He had a wooden leg which was fascinating to my brother and I. He was also a preacher, and they were very involved in their church. At her funeral many words were spoken about Deaconess Wilmer, and what a godly woman she was. Every time I make a bed, I think of Ovella singing hymns under her breath, and teaching me to "smooth out the wrinkles."
Ovella saved my Aunt Becca's life. Two more little girls had followed my mama (they don't call it the baby boom for nothing). Aunt Becca had somehow found a box of matches which she was delightedly against all instructions was playing with- this was the 60's when everyone smoked, or if they did not, like my grandparents, provided the accouterments to do so for their guests. Ovella was going about her work, when she heard screams. She dashed into the room where Becca was engulfed in flames. With quick thinking and disregard for her own safety, Ovella grabbed Becca and rolled her up in a rug, dousing the fire. Both went to the hospital, but my aunt's life was saved.
This is my brother returned from a four-wheeling adventure, muddy as he can be, much to Vella's bemusement.
Ovella taught me so much, from bed-making and dusting, to living life with grace, humility and faith (a lesson which I will always be struggling to learn). As I grew older, I simply introduced her to people as my grandmother, preferring that designation of the longer explanation of how she was part of our family. Although, we shared no blood, she was in fact my grandmother through love.
My family still uses Ovella's words of praise whenever there is an achievement whether small or great- "You're so smmaaah-art!" It was great praise indeed.
Oh law, I had so much more to say, but now I'm tearing up again thinking of her funeral and the minister calling us her "white family", hee. So discussion time readers- did you think The Help was racist? Was there an Ovella in your or your parents' lives?