My maternal grandmother, Alvateen Oglesby, was born in DeKoven, Kentucky in 1905. She was a small woman with vivid blue eyes and a gorgeous smile. The oldest of three children, Alvateen was born to Morgan and Sarah Penrod Oglesby. She became a young woman during the “Roaring ’20′s” and used to tell me stories about rolling her stockings, smoking cigarettes and doing other “outrageous” things before she settled down and married my grandpa in 1929. My grandfather was a minister in the Assembly of God church. One of the “Holy Rollers”, as they were called. My grandmother may have been wild as a young woman, but by the time I knew her, she was God-fearing and the nicest person I’ve ever known. I never once heard her say anything bad about anyone, and she was blessed with a servant’s heart, one of those people whose greatest joy in life was helping others. I used to love it when Grandma Barnard came to our house to stay because my mother would always make a cheese cake and it was our favorite dessert.
After the birth of my last child in 1980, I was diagnosed with cancer. I still have the handkerchief my grandmother sent me that had been prayed over by the women of her Wednesday Ladies Prayer Group. Those women didn’t mess around; my cancer was cured and has never recurred.
One of the last conversations I had with my grandmother contained the closest thing to a complaint I ever heard her utter: “I wake up in the morning and give thanks for being alive, then ask God if I can’t go home yet. I’m ready to meet my Savior”, she told me. She was 92 when she died in Ocala, Florida on the 17th of September, 1997.
She was a tiny woman with a big name and an even bigger heart.