It was a blessed time back in the day when extended families lived in close proximity to each other.  Families were able to be part of each other’s daily lives— casually dropping in and out during the day, supporting and helping as needed.   Not only were children able to learn some of life’s most valuable lessons from their parents, but also from those that loved them most, specifically aunts, uncles and grandparents. Over time people have become more mobile and so for many, gone are the days when grandparents lived just down the road.

Carrie Melinda Davis Ganus, Emmett Ganus
Carrie Melinda Davis Ganus and
son Emmett Ganus

Sometimes the “older folks” provided a very direct lesson in the form of  “a talking to”—but other times, children learned a great deal from observing their nonsensical approach to life.  Either way, those lessons often influenced many aspects of their lives by teaching morals, shaping attitudes and teaching skills to help them cope and deal with the day to day events.  If shared with others, those lessons can continue to bless and shape future generations today .

Phoebe Johnson was among those blessed to have lived near some of her extended Ganus family.  While she never knew her grandfather, Roderick Monroe Ganus who had passed away in 1932, she did know his wife, her Grandma Carrie Melinda Davis.  Carrie was born 19 August 1886 in Hanceville, Alabama and was the daughter of Rolen Lee Davis and Mary Ann Watson.  Roderick’s brother, Bobby had married Stella May Montgomery, who was born 21 Jul 1879 in Missouri and  was the daughter of Joshua Montgomery and Nancy Jane Woods. After the deaths of their husbands, Grandma Carrie and  “Aunt” Stella  lived in a duplex next door to each other.

I am grateful for the following story that Phoebe recently shared with me. Not only has it greatly impacted her life and her children’s lives, but I believe that sharing it will impact all who read it.  Thank you Phoebe!

Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Stella May Montgomery Ganus, Heber Monroe Ganus
Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Stella May Montgomery Ganus
and Heber Monroe Ganus 

I remember the first lesson that I learned about death I learned from the death of Bobby’s wife, Stella (whom I LOVED).  Aunt Stella lived in a duplex along side Carrie. Aunt Stella was everything I wanted my Grandmother to be… patient, caring, touching and hugging.  She was very loving. Then she died. 

Robert Lee Ganus, Stella May Montgomery
Robert L. Ganus &
Stella M. Montgomery

I was visiting my Grandma, Carrie and I asked to go next door to say hello to Aunt Stella and she told me that she had died.  It was probably the first time that I had realized loss through death and I was devastated. So I went out on the common back porch that they had shared and peeked in the windows of Stella’s old house. Then I sat down on the porch and cried. Grandmother Carrie came outside and sat down by me and said in an exasperated manner “what are you crying fer?” I told her I missed Aunt Stella. She sat there for a moment and then replied “Well. Is that gonna bring her back?” I answered no and she said “then get up and find something to do”. As a youngster, the logic of that appealed to me and has stood me in good stead for a good amount of time. The “Get up and find something to do and stop feeling sorry for yourself” theme is one I carry on today and my family knows that particular phrase well. Carrie was a no-nonsense gal and a little girl that had drama queen tendencies was no match for her. I am sure that being practical had its place in the days and times when my Grandparents were growing up and I cannot imagine the hardships they endured just to survive.”

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2012

Please follow and like us:

8 thoughts on “What Are You Crying Fer?

  1. Wow! Very realistic, all right, and right in tune with the tough side of Southern extended families! Phoebe tries to fall in line with Grandmother Carrie, in telling this memory, by calling herself a "drama queen" and rightly saying that "being practical has its place." However, from the way Phoebe describes Aunt Stella (patient, caring, touching, hugging, loving), I think that had Stella herself had been the survivor, she would have treated Phoebe differently. For starters, she might have said, if a beloved female relative had died, something like, "Yes, I miss her too. I'm sad, like you. But she would have wanted us to go ahead and live our lives … "

    This is quite a story! Very authentic and jibes with my own Southern memories from South and North Carolina. My book blog is on, if you ever want to check it out, and on Twitter I'm @MariannSRegan. You have such wonderful, full, dramatic, and well-documented descriptions of your wide range of ancestors! I very much enjoy your posts.

  2. What a great way of putting this difficult life lesson into terms understandable by a youngster. Sometimes, huge concepts such as death are incomprehensible to children, but a practical point of view can provide something do-able.

    On the other hand…I guess I'd just want to stay there and cry. It is hard when we miss loved ones with a finality like that. Maybe a hug, then that practical word of wisdom might have helped???

  3. Thanks Michelle, for sharing this great story. I love your blog and admire you for taking the time to create such loving memories! I hope to be more like you some day!

  4. I love having you say that Mariann and knowing that we are seeing some of their southern upbringing. Since I didn't grow up in the South myself, I feel a little bit of an ache to feel part of it and cling to anything remotely Southern.

    I checked out your book and have added it to my wish list—sounds great. Thanks for sharing with me!

  5. Yes, I wonder how Carrie would have dealt with me—I think I would have continued to sit on the porch and "boo hoo". I do think I her words will come to mind from now on out though and I really appreciate my cousin Phoebe for sharing her story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top