This is a creative essay that was written by the most peaceful, wonderful, talented, and graceful wife any one could ever have. I read her class assignment and decided to share with y’all but I am not sure she knows I’m doing this. So if you see here, try to act surprised. It will be spread out over the next couple of days. The story is fictional, but some of the places and event took place. It was based on those events ….
To read Part I first … Go Here
——- Here is Part II ——
The Missing Piece
Now, back to the blessed disaster. My home had minor damage compared to others. Windows and a portion of the house were destroyed. As I scanned the remnants, as much an 81-year-old woman could, I discovered a special large piece was missing. I became distraught because it was priceless, yet there was an indescribable peace that God protected it—somewhere—and would be found in His timing.
Victoria’s home was not damaged, though the electricity did go out for a few days. Her family invited me to stay with them since they have a guest bedroom for such occasions. But there was a price. To compensate for my stay, they asked me to make Grandmother Alice’s famous peach cobbler for Sunday dessert; and I gladly indulged the request. Because my daughter loves company, and they have a home where people could enjoy a home-cooked meal, others joined us for Sunday dinner.
We had just finished my grandmother’s famous peach cobbler when a knock came to the door. It was a good friend who had been working hard cleaning Evergreen of the damage and driving people to town for groceries and supplies. He found something he knew I would want. In the bed of his truck was a large container covered with a green felt blanket. I knew exactly what it was. It was the missing piece, once lost but now found! I was so overjoyed, I started crying. The piece was still intact with very few scratches. They found it tucked under brush down the street and protected by Grandmother Alice’s large featherbed mattress, of all things. They brought it inside and set it in the living room. I was speechless because of God’s overwhelming grace and goodness. Then I recalled that Psalm 91 says, “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” It was as if He put His feathers of protection, Grandma’s featherbed mattress, around this item—this precious, trivial item that meant so much—and returned it to me. It was an incredible sense of great love and joy.
Bella Grace, my teenage granddaughter, has a special place in my heart. She reminds me of my mother, Caroline Grace. Her features, the delicate color of her skin, her strawberry blonde hair, and perfectly placed freckles. She is breathtakingly beautiful, just like her name. Plus, she is very smart, curious, and intrigued with history. Bella was fascinated and wondered why this piece was so important. The rest of the afternoon we relived history together as I shared multiple stories. The pieces of history fit, and my sweet Bella would be the recipient of learning about the grace-filled time no longer lost.
The special delivery was a gift from my late husband, Robert James. When he first learned that Thomasville was coming to Appomattox, he was excited. He was an experienced carpenter and had hopes to work for Thomasville so he could be closer to home. Early in his 25-year career at Thomasville, he thoughtfully considered what could be the perfect gift for our upcoming anniversary. The frugal man he was, he began setting aside funds to purchase something special. Robert knew that history was important to me, and he wanted to make sure I had something that protected precious items to share with loved ones as an enduring legacy. On our 17th anniversary, he surprised me with this beautiful hope chest made of polished cedar with an embellished window-style design on the front and a lock in the middle to secure the contents. It remains a wonder to behold and such a prized possession. Bella cautiously opened the top of the beautiful cedar chest, eagerly anticipating what was inside. Miraculously, the items were pristine and still in place, as if at peace, even though the chest had just been through a horrific storm.
Dedication Dress and Bonnet
The first item Bella retrieved was a beautiful ivory dress with small pink rosettes and a matching crochet bonnet. My great grandmother was a talented seamstress. She could see a woman wearing a beautiful dress and make one exactly like it or better. The little dress and bonnet were my grandmother’s that her mother had made for her when her parents dedicated her to the Lord. Traditionally, just like Grace, it has been in the family and worn by our newborn daughters.
Faith and legacy were important in the lives of the Evergreen residents. On Sundays after a churchwide potluck meal, people occasionally strolled toward the area behind the church and near the cemetery of early Evergreen families. The cemetery, adorned with trees and bushes and each grave with seasonal flowers, was a holy, revered place. We paused, remembered, and gave thanks that these loved ones dedicated their lives to building a community that would one day reach people around the world. As the years passed, we saw their dreams fulfilled, and their lives of grace continue through the generations.
A small plastic bag was hiding in the corner containing an old bullet and a small card. I shared with Bella that I picked this up at the Appomattox Court House grounds museum as a reminder of the people of Evergreen affected by the Civil War.
There were a number of people from Evergreen who served in the Civil War, including some shown in the photographs displayed at the museum. As one could imagine, separation from family was exceedingly difficult during the war. Yet, because of the prayers of our patriarchs and matriarchs, the spirit of the people of Evergreen and Appomattox was that of generosity. Even in the years of war, people gathered to serve and provide supplies. During the Civil War, the communities experienced shortages of supplies and workers for those who remained.
When the war ended and men returned home, the communities quickly came together to rebuild. When our children were small, one of the activities Robert and I enjoyed was taking them to the Appomattox Court House grounds. Since the war affected many from Appomattox and Evergreen, these visits were reminders of their service. Even today when I am in the area, I remember.
Our home’s front window has a view of the railroad, a notable feature of Evergreen, and the train continues to pass through Evergreen. After the Civil War, the railroad increased businesses by stopping at the Evergreen station to deliver mail and cargo. There were Evergreen residents who worked for the Norfolk and Western Railway. One of the delights as a child was watching the train come through Evergreen and hearing the engineer blow the whistle. He loved waving his hands and seeing the children excitedly waiting for him.
However, Evergreen also faced traumatic events associated with the railroad. One prominent person lost his legs in a train accident, and he was later killed in an explosion. My mother told me that one day in the 1920s, a young man was working on the railroad lines and was electrocuted moments after his boss greeted him.
After the Evergreen railroad station service ended and was demolished, two young brothers built a small, operational train that quickly became a recognized feature of Evergreen. The surrounding areas heard of this train, and people visited Evergreen just to ride the Virginia Central Railway, which remains stored in Evergreen. To further commemorate the impact the railroad has had on the Appomattox and Evergreen communities, Appomattox has had an annual two-day Railroad Festival, complete with a parade, bands, exhibits, booths, and plenty of food.
My sweet Robert was also romantic. Through our years together, he wrote me love letters, and Bella found them! She was eager yet unsure if she could open them, and I lovingly granted her permission to read them. She was in awe of the eloquent words written by her grandfather in his master penmanship. I told her that there were other lovers and family members who wrote letters. The Evergreen Post Office was a popular place in the 1940s during World War II. It was an incredibly challenging time for those who remained at home. Letters were written daily to those who served, some with a hint of a delightful fragrance to remind of one’s beloved. The Evergreen Postmaster faithfully delivered mail received from loved ones. Even if they came during off hours, he made special trips to a family anxiously awaiting news. Evergreen experienced a season of grace, as not one person lost their life during the war.
Near to the Evergreen Post Office was the J. K. Hamilton General Store, which became Evergreen’s community center because everyone liked ….
You will have to come back tomorrow for the conclusion of this delightful essay.
The cover picture is the quaint event center of the Evergreen Lavender Farm. All other pictures are stock photos demo Google.
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