Abiding Faith Letter 42

Abiding Faith Letter 42


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



A couple of years ago I put together a family memoir. Much of it was created in stories so that the characters

of those family members could be more easily remembered. They included Sam Williams and

his wife Fannie and Mama’s mother Laura and her Aunt Tempie and Uncle Allan, the dwarf.

And Daddy’s mother Mary Lewis and her mother . . .



Letters of an Abiding Faith:

Legacy of a Slave’s GrandDaughter to her Son

written by Ella Lewis to her Son (Rudolph Lewis)

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Letter 42

Sept 5, 1986


My Dear Son,

How are you Fine I hope. As For me not so Well But thank God it well as it is. Well Aunt Sallie left us. They Buried her last Sunday Aug 31. All come down. She died on Wed Aug 27. We Buried her out here in the Church Cemetery.*

If you had had phone I could Call you. I know I coulden rite so it Could get there in Time. But I Know she Better off altho I miss her. Bunk still not doing too good She went Back to work to day For the first time since the accident.

Every Body Else is doing OK. Sonny Rivers wife is Expecting a baby so she will Be Coming home Soon From over seas.** So you rite Soon much love.

From Mother

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*With Aunt Sally dead, Mama is the last of the children of Laura and TeeJay. In this Lewis-Jackson family, she is the last of that generation that can remember the names of those who came out of slavery and that first generation born after slavery. She has attempted to keep that memory alive through me. I do hope I do her memory justice. There may be a number of people depending on me that I do a good job and tell the truth of what came before. 

A couple of years ago I put together a family memoir. Much of it was created in stories so that the characters of those family members could be more easily remembered. They included Sam Williams and his wife Fannie and Mama’s mother Laura and her Aunt Tempie and Uncle Allan, the dwarf. And Daddy’s mother Mary Lewis and her mother Betty Jones and Daddy’s father George Graves, born twelve years before Cox’s Snow. (Strangely, I found the date of Cox’s Snow (1857) in the FWP work The Negro in Virginia. It was through this source that I was able to figure that Daddy father was sixty at his birth in 1905.It must be tough when all your sisters and brothers are gone and you are the last one standing. 

Blessed are those who have children and grandchildren who will still give you some comfort in this world. At this letter writing, Mama was seventy-five; she still had four daughters living—Sistuh, Susie, Lucinda, and Annie, called “Bunk.”

**Sonny Rivers was the only son of Sistuh and Bustuh Rivers. Bustuh became extremely sick a few years later and recovered. Bustuh had worked around death much of his life being an assistant at a funeral home. Ironically, it would be Sistuh, his wife, who would pass. She suffered considerably from cigarette smoking. She was a good church sister and prepared herself well for her death and burial. Including Sonny, Sistuh left three daughters: Sandra and Elaine, both teachers; and Lydia, a nurse. We all miss her terribly. I know that God will find her a place in heaven.

***Freddie has a son named James, called “Buggy.” He was down in Louisiana, living across the river from New Orleans in a township called Gretna. I saw him once while I was in New Orleans. He too was not able to make it to Aunt Sally’s funeral. That must have hurt him too. I spent the first two months of my life at Aunt Sally’s house in South Baltimore, 300 South Fremont. I still have fond memories of her. (See Letter 43 .)

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update 20 December 2011





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