Geneva Walker Green, my maternal grandmother, was born on December 12, 1899, in Eolia, Missouri, to James and Ella Turner Walker. She died on December 9, 1987, three days before her 88th birthday.
Grandma Geneva Green was the only grandparent I knew; her husband, grandpa Earl Green, died on August 26, 1955, when I was two years old.
Grandma’s father, James, was born in slavery on August 15, 1853. Her mother, Ella Louise was born on June 20, 1866. My great-grandfather died at the age of 70 on March 24, 1923. My great-grandmother also died on March 24, 1954, at the age of 88.
Grandma was the 11th of 15 children. She was a woman of great faith. I called several cousins who I grew up with to share some of their grandma memories. All of them, without fail, said she was a woman who loved God.
My grandparents had nine children, three boys, and six girls. The youngest two girls are living and doing well. During grandma’s life, she had 40 grandchildren and over 100 great-grandchildren.
My Aunt Mayna, the youngest child, remembers the family going to church. She said first Sunday’s was testimony Sunday. And every first Sunday, grandma would have a testimony, but not before she sang her favorite song and the one she always sang before she testified, “This Little Light of Mine.”
Aunt Mayna also remembers grandma as a young girl being bedridden for a time because of arthritis. I can only believe because of her faith and prayer life; God healed her. I never saw her not being able to walk. Later, when I was an adult, she had a cancer diagnosis. She was not going to have anybody cutting on her. All I know in a later exam, the doctor couldn’t find any sign of cancer. My grandma was a praying woman.
I remember grandma telling me to call someone a fool, was like cussing at them. She would not tolerate anyone using that word. I also remember her saying that when she was young, a girl was not allowed to whistle because it was not considered polite.
My cousin Sheila remembered grandma telling her that she and her younger siblings were not allowed to call the older sisters and brothers by just their first names; they had to call them brother Henry or Sister Meg.
Sheila also remembered when she and her husband Rolland married; grandma told her to make sure that she took care of her husband. After 50 years of marriage, it appears she took grandma’s advice.
My cousin Money’s favorite memory of grandma was sitting on the couch reading the Bible with her and grandma telling his mom, “Ella this boy’s going to be a preacher someday.” Today Money is a pastor. As an adult, he and grandma would talk every Friday on the phone and have prayer.
He remembered grandma praying for one son in particular, who had stopped going to church. Even though she was not here to see it, Money recalled before our uncle died, he made a personal commitment with God. My grandma was a praying woman.
Money also remembers that she loved to watch Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics play. My cousin Ron remembered her love for baseball and Willie Mays. He also said she did drink a little Mogen David Wine. I’m certain she was probably just having a private communion. (Smile).
Ron remembered that he and his brothers would tease grandma about a little old man, named Mr. McGinnis, being her boyfriend and how mad that made her. He remembers her giving them whippings. They must have been the bad grandchildren; I do not remember my grandma even raising her voice to me.
Even though grandma’s personality was kind and quiet, she was a fierce defender of her children. My aunts tell the story of a teacher who used a ruler to hit one of them on their hand. Grandma marched up to their school, and by the time she finished, the teacher begged her to please leave her class, and she promised never to hit another one of the Green children.
In my immediate family, we always knew we were about to get another sibling if Grandma showed up at our house suitcase in hand. She would immediately start cleaning and getting the house in order for our mom to bring home another little sister. It was always a girl. Out of nine kids, there is only one boy.
For me, my Grandma Geneva was a safe place. I knew that God heard her prayers and was pretty confident He would answer them. She got such joy when one of her grandkids stopped by for a visit. I would sometimes bring her a little Knick-knack, and she would act like it was the greatest gift she ever received.
My last memory of her was when it was getting close to the time for her to go be with the Lord. She would pray out loud to God and refer to herself as Neva, the name she was called as a child. It’s been thirty-three years since my grandma left, but I have no doubt that she is in heaven, and as each of her children transition, she is right there welcoming them home.