My Greatgrandmother on my Dads side was last named Caldwell, but I almost never knew her other than what everybody called her…”Mom Qwell”. That’s just how she was known and I didn’t know better until I was much older. She died the same day my son Chris was born just 2 weeks short of 102 yrs. As kids, she didn’t like us around and would try to trip us with her cane. And she would yell at us to get out (of the house, or the room) as she couldn’t tolerate youngsters. She always wore a dress that was quite long, and always wore her hair in a twist knob on top of her head. She also wore those kind of stalkings that I only know of as old lady stockings…opaque and just short of skin color grey. She had the longest ears I ever saw and a pretty prominent nose. So, as a youngster, we pretty much steered clear of her. I have one solid memory of her from early childhood…she stopped me in the kitchen one day and asked if I’d like to snap peas with her. I had to learn what that meant and I sat down beside her and we snapped Snow Peas, and I learned for the first time that one could eat the shell, raw. I can still enjoy that taste!
At her 100th birthday, there was a big party and I was in medical practice by then. I was sitting in a corner, out-of-the-way, place when she surprised me by coming over and sitting down beside me. She said, “I hear you’re a doctor now”. I said Yes Mam. She said, “Can I ask you a question”? I agreed and she asked…(now, forgive the language…it’s how it was said in those days)..”Have you ever seen a nigger”? Surprised, I said yes mam, and she said, “I’ve always wanted to know something…do they look the same inside as we do?” Just imagine this 100 yr old woman asking that question. Of course they do but she wondered that for a very long time!