Let Her Fly


April 2, 2015

Today, they lay my dear Grannis to ground, Betty Juanita Hall, born Juanita Betty Stegall, my last grandparent and surely the one I loved most in life. She was the youngest of three children by several years, a late life baby to her mother by her third husband, Frank, after whom I am named. And she always insisted that my middle name, Elisa, was somehow an homage to her, since Elisa and Betty were both short forms of Elizabeth. My mom was her oldest child, and I her oldest grandchild of 10. She’ll be lain down beside my mom, where she mourned the loss many days, and set her headstone a decade ago, waiting for this day.

I spent so many weekend nights and summer days with her as a child, and even as an adult. We listened to all the country greats, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn and George Strait and Kenny Rogers, and we watched Coal Miner’s Daughter together about a million times. She taught me to swim and told me to always carry a pistol in my purse. She had a big leather purse with a saddle on it, and kept a pearl-handled Derringer tucked inside. I’ve never carried a pistol, but as a teen, my mom began calling me Pistol, for shooting off at the mouth, so I guess I carried one in my own way.

She was a force to be reckoned with, a hard woman sometimes. A hard life can put a shell around us that closes in tight and fast without warning or reason. But her love was just as fierce as her anger, and I never doubted it. She and I had an easy way of loving one another, joking and teasing with affection. We had our hard times, too, some misunderstandings over the years, but we found our way through them. Sometimes, for all of us, it was as hard to love her as it was to stay mad at her.

As the rest of my family is gathered at her graveside today, I am 2,500 miles away in Washington, from the place where her grandfather, Silas “Boone” Stegall, came, and one of the many stops along the way for her father. Though I held her tight in life, I want her to fly away in death. I will keep only memories and let go of any sorrows.

 

“Let Her Fly”
Dolly Parton

There’s a wreath on the door
She don’t live here no more
As of today, she flew home
And we all gathered here
In sorrow and tears
It won’t be the same with her gone
There’s a place on the hill
That’s peaceful and still
Where she’ll sleep beside daddy again
The ole family tree is shedding its leaves
But we’ll all meet in heaven again

Oh, she’s an angel
Let her fly, let her fly
She’s gone home to glory
To her home in the sky
When God sees her comin’
Heaven’s choir will smile
And sing, “oh she’s an angel, let her fly, let her fly
Ooh, she’s an angel, let her fly”

She used to rock me when I was a child
Sing “rock of ages” and “in the sweet bye and bye”
Her life wasn’t easy, oh but how hard she tried
You know she’s an angel, lord, so let her fly

Oh, she’s an angel
Let her fly, let her fly
She’s gone home to glory
To her home in the sky
When God sees her comin’
Heaven’s choir will smile
And sing, “oh she’s an angel, let her fly, let her fly
Ooh, she’s an angel, let her fly”

Let her fly
Ooh she’s an angel, let her fly

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Categories: MemoirTags: , ,

2 comments

  1. Frankie, what a sweet message to your grandmother. All my best to you and your family.

    Like

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