Thursday, June 4, 2009

Miss Hattie's true love

My father's Aunt Hattie led an interesting and fulfilling life. She made a big impact on her community, and people in her circle.

But one of the most interesting things about Aunt Hattie is her private life.

In 1919, Hattie, at the age of 30, became engaged to a man who was the love of her life. His name was George T. Moore, and although they had met decades earlier when her father preached at Shearn Methodist Church in Houston, they met again, fell in love, and pledged themselves to one another in 1919.

Only there was a hitch.

George's mother had died when he was young, and he'd been raised by his aunt, Miss Mollie. Miss Mollie could not bear to think of George leaving her, and so the couple decided to keep their engagement - their entire relationship, even - a secret from her. Once she passed away, they reasoned, they could marry.

Well, Miss Mollie was a healthy old thing. Hattie threw herself into her church work while she waited for George, spending years in San Antonio, Abilene, Austin and in West Dallas, ministering to people, helping the poor, advocating for people without a voice, and inserting herself into peoples' lives in general.

A woman with the drive and energy to overcome resistance and to venture into difficult situations can also be a woman with an annoying tendency toward bossiness, especially toward members of her own family. While Hattie directed her romantic frustrations toward the poor and downtrodden, she also bossed her sisters around, especially her baby sister, my grandmother. My mother later told tales of Hattie's meddling in Ruth's shaky marriage.

In 1937, Miss Mollie passed away, and finally George and Hattie were free to marry. She quit her good works, and joined him in Houston. He was sixty-five, she was fifty-seven.

Were they happy? It's hard to know. I wonder whether they got used to being single for so long. Was it a big adjustment, to finally live together in holy matrimony? And Hattie, of course, gave up her work, which meant so much to her. That's what women did, in those days.

In her scrapbook, I found two valentines they exchanged - one from George to Hattie. It's an off-the-rack card, with slogans and a poem to "My Wife," but it is without a signature. Not a man of many words, George.

Hattie kept her valentine to George, too - another off-the-rack card, with a sentimental poem. Which she signed, "Your Hattie."

George passed away only four years after they married, in 1941. I hope that he and Hattie enjoyed their time together, finally.


Crystal said...

Awwww...that's a sad story. They should have told Miss Mollie to get over my humble opinion. They could have chosen to live near her and seen her every day for heaven's sake.

kcinnova said...

Living to please others seems awfully unpleasant to me.

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

4 years only?