Tuesday I decided to stop in and pay a visit to a couple of relatives. I had not been to see them in a very long time, so I decided it was time to take a detour on my way home from the airport and visit them. After all it had been 42 years since the last time that I had stopped by for a visit, it was the least that I could do!
After consulting a map I sat out to drive to where they are. It only took about 12 minutes to reach their place from the airport in El Centro, CA. As I pulled into their residence in Brawley, CA, I did have to stop at the office to verify both locations. After I left the office, I drove very carefully to the first location. I found it very easily, it was right next to the road.
As I got out of my car and walked carefully up to the location, I verified the residence……John A. Smith 1883-1957! This is the final resting place for my maternal grandfather, John Addison Smith, my Mom’s dad. From my recollection as a very little boy, Grandpa Smith was a very ornery, tough old man. He was a victim of childhood spinal meningitis which left him with a bum leg. I remember the leg brace that he fashioned for himself to help in his walking. I was 6 years old when he passed away and I still remember the trip to, and his funeral proceedings in 1957.
After spending some time there reflecting on some old faded memories, I said my goodbyes and walked back to my car.
I proceeded to the second residence. It was only about 75 yards on past my grandfather’s headstone. Donald Ray Hammack January 19,1935-December 15, 1935.
This is the headstone on my oldest brother’s grave. This is the brother that I never got the chance to know or see personally, he died 16 years before I was born! But you see, I do know what he looked like. My parents ALWAYS kept the one and only picture that I am aware of, Donald sitting in a chair, hanging in their bedroom! Donald was my parent’s first born son, their pride and joy, the beginning of their legacy, that legacy was to be a total of five boys and one girl!
But before Christmas came in that first joyous year in 1935, Donald became sick and passed away from apparently the results of pneumonia.. Donald Ray Hammack lived to be four days shy of 11 months old, and passed away just 10 days before Christmas! So I am reasonably sure the Christmas season of 1935, in the Hammack household, was extremely heart-breaking!
And so as I got back in to my car and proceeded to drive home, a ghostly emotional feeling hung over my head. It was very hard to explain! Something that I can’t describe!
For the 1:15 minute drive back to Yuma, I was putting the pieces of my heritage into perspective. My parents got married in 1934 in Buckeye, AZ. Three of my brothers were born in the Brawley-El Centro, CA area. My grandfather and oldest brother are buried in Brawley, CA. My oldest son was born in Phoenix, AZ. Now I am living in Yuma, AZ.