Granddaddy/Grandmaw Stone

September 10th (yesterday) would have been my
granddaddy’s 94th birthday. Once again, his name was Troy Dewitt
Caylor. He was born on September 10, 1917, and he died on March 29, 1979. He
was one of those grandfathers that could almost be an ideal cliché: He smoked a
pipe, he could do carpentry, was an excellent farmer, loved yard work, could
fix anything that had an engine, could make crafts and holiday sceneries, and
most of all, he loved his family. I was almost 13 when he died, but I have so
many cherished memories of that man. I loved him dearly, and he loved me. As I
have said before, he showed all of his grandchildren so much love. I have
someone else to add to my “Happy Birthday” to Granddaddy message. I simply know
her as Grandmaw Stone.

My granddaddy’s
family was hit hard by the Spanish Flu of 1918. Granddaddy’s parents and four
siblings were gravely ill, and, unfortunately, one of his older sisters, Billie,
died. The family lived in Varnell, Georgia. Granddaddy’s grandparents, the
Caylors, lived there as well. However, afraid of the flu themselves, they did
not enter my grandfather’s house for fear of catching the dreaded disease. They
would bring food and supplies to the house, but simply leave it all on the
porch and return home. Grandmaw Stone did not live in Varnell. She lived in
Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was Granddaddy’s step-grandmother. My great-grandmother Mattie Stone Caylor’s mother had died when she was a young girl, and her father remarried the woman of whom I am writing, Grandmaw Stone. Well, the family was “falling by the way-side”: They were all sick, and Billie had died. Enter Grandmaw Stone: A woman of faith, courage, and love of family.
She had other children and grandchildren
to worry about, but she left her “disease-free” home in Chattanooga, took the
train to Varnell, and walked right through the front door of my Granddaddy’s
house. She took over! She nursed my great-grandparents and Granddaddy’s three
surviving, older siblings, cooked food, cleaned the house, and started the
laundry. When everything had calmed down, she found my Granddaddy who had been “tucked away and forgotten” basically resting peacefully in his crib without, praise be
to God, the flu. She picked him up, changed his soiled clothes, and fed that
boy. She told my Nanny Caylor years later, “That boy was just about starved to death!”

My Nanny and Granddaddy were married in 1938, and I know
Grandmaw Stone was still alive then. My Nanny loved her! Nanny said she was so
kind, loving, and had lots of pep for a lady her age. Nanny said one thing
Grandmaw Stone always said for the years left that she knew her was that when
she saw Granddaddy, she said, “There’s my boy!” She had several other grandsons
and nephews, but no one else was “her boy” but Granddaddy because of that bond
they shared. So, thank you, God, again, for Granddaddy, and thank you for Grandmaw
Stone . Oh, my, the admiration and love I have for Grandmaw Stone, and she died
many, many years before I was born.

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