I would love to pay tribute to all my grandparents, but I knew my mother's parents best. Due to my parent's separation when I was 10, I don't remember much of my father's parents.
William Sylvester Goff was born in April of 1896. Josephine Constance Ford was born on the same day in April 1900. They married in 1917. He was a coal miner in Kentucky. Together they had five children.
My mom always told me that my grandfather was a hard man, but by the time I knew him, he was as soft as a kitten, having mellowed with age. I often remember him telling stories and tearing up during some of them. He had some of the funniest stories and I wish to this day somebody had thought to write them down. He played music. I remember him hooking up his amplifier and playing for us. He played guitar and had formed a brace out of coat hangers to hold his harmonica (harp as he called it) so he could play both at the same time. I remember my cousins and I kicking up our heels to his tunes after supper. I remember a song called "The Letter Edged in Red", and "The Old Rugged Cross" best. Later in life William developed Parkinson's disease and I always remember him patting me on the back with that trembling hand. Every time we would go to visit them (they lived in a two bedroom trailer), I would hear the teakettle go off in the morning meaning breakfast was ready. My grandfather would get up and cook breakfast and put the kettle on to whistle about the time the food would be done, in order to wake everyone up. As far as I know, my grandfather did this every morning for my grandmother. I just never could imagine him the way my mother remembered him. He seemed to love my grandmother dearly. When she got Alzheimer’s, he was the one who took care of her in spite of it breaking his heart.
Josephine...what I remember most about her was her LOOOOONG hair and her cooking. She had gray hair that she could sit on and kept it in a bun all day. I would ask to brush it in the evenings when she would take it down. I loved the feel of it. She was famous in our family for her homemade rolls and her cakes. She made a killer German chocolate cake. But those rolls, oh those rolls. She would let me have some of the dough and a little pan to make my own in. MMMMMMM
My grandmother's mind started failing about the time I was a teenager. I was losing interest in them and she was losing her memory of us. I went one time after she got Alzheimer’s and while she greeted us with enthusiastic friendliness, she added, "I don't know who you are, but it's always nice to have company!" I had heard of some of the strange things she had been saying and doing so it didn't really bother me. I know that she was afraid of my grandfather most of the time and this broke his heart. He loved her so much.
When I was 17, I got pregnant. It was out of wedlock and though I was being a very defiant teen, my mother was ashamed and didn't want the rest of the family to know. That was okay with me, cause inside, I was ashamed too. I was due in May of that year. I was still going to school and trying to blend in with the walls so no one would notice me. In April, William was sent to the hospital with what I assume was a heart attack. While he was there, my grandmother, who was staying with my aunt, caught some kind of viral infection and died in her sleep. A few days later, William woke up and just knew she was gone. His reason for carrying on was gone and he went home to be with her less than two weeks after her. I know it is stretching it, but just let me go on remembering them this way...My grandparents loved each other so much and their spirits were so connected, that he couldn't linger here without her.
But I never got to say goodbye to them. I had my baby and put her up for adoption and went on to college. I never cried over them, I never thought another thing about them...till I had my oldest daughter. I will never forget. I was sitting in a rocking chair singing to my baby. I just happened to start singing "The Old Rugged Cross". At some point it dawned on me what I was singing and the memory of my Grandfather overwhelmed me. I held my baby close and sang through uncontrollable, grief stricken tears. I was finally saying goodbye to them and wishing desperately they could see their latest great-grandchild. But most of all, I grieved not wanting to see them more often before they went home and that I had messed things up so much that I didn't even get to say goodbye.
Having said my goodbyes to them since, here is a photo tribute to William and Josephine Goff.
Josephine Constance Ford (April 1900-April 1983)
William Sylvester Goff (April 1896-April1983) He is the boy standing in the gate, the baby is his brother.
William and Josephine (taken around 1945)
William and Josephine (taken in 1982)