Monday, July 16, 2012

Nanny Whitten

Nanny Whitten with her parents shortly before her mother died 
Vivian Adele Earp was born on November 13, 1912 in Okra County, Eastland, TX.  Sixteen years later Adele attended a cookout at the home of John and Kate Whitten.  "John told David, who was not at the party, that if he were him he 'wouldn't let any grass grow under his feet until he met that girl.'  David waited outside the Baptist Church that Sunday night to meet Adele Earp, the daughter of Gus A. Earp.  They were married on the 26th of June, 1929."*
Nanny Whitten holding me beside her father
David and Adele had five children:  Wilma Wayne, Mary Nell (my sweet Gran), Anna Jean, David Earl and Billy Jack.  When his children were 16, 12, 7, 5 and 3, David Heron Whitten was killed in an automobile accident.  Adele faithfully fed, reared and educated her five children in the midst of overwhelming circumstances.  She clung to the Lord and worked her behind off.  (Maybe I should go into the business of writing epitaphs.)  I love the picture of her holding me above.  You can see such gentleness and love on her face.  You don't see bitterness.  I love hearing her children and grandchildren talk about her.  They loved her.  She delighted in them.  I want to be this to my boys and to their wives and children.  I want to have released the hurtful things that life has, and will surely continue, to throw my way, so that I'm free to love them without strings and without demandingness.

Nanny Whitten's children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren gathered a few weeks ago to enjoy a beautiful and really miraculously pleasant Texas July weekend.  Sixty-two of us were there.  Nanny would have been so proud of her cowboys waking up with the sun to cook breakfast for everyone, of all the happy, loved children running around, of her children gathered together.

"I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a THOUSAND generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."  Exodus 20:5-6 
I'm so thankful to be living under the umbrella of Nanny Whitten's faithfulness, and also a little ashamed of my whininess given that at my age, my great-grandmother was scraping out a living by the sweat of her brow with five children to feed and a ranch to run.  I'm thinking that the stress of her life did not include whether to enroll her children in karate, boy scouts, or flag football.

* From Direct Ancestors of David Heron Whitten and Vivian Adele Earp by my fabulous aunt, Jean.  Thank you so much for your hard work.  This has been a joy and treasure to read.


  1. So beautifully stated! I never cease to be amazed and thankful for all my precious mother did for us. What a beautiful legacy she gave us. Gran

  2. One of the things I love about learning about my ancestors is knowing that their faith and grit is in my blood and when I get overwhelmed by things I have a part of them in me. You are a blessed woman. (This is the same Emily, by the way, I just didn't want to switch accounts.)

  3. Love, love, love this post! Nannie would be do proud of you. She had a gift for making each of us feel we were her favorite.

    1. Thank you Summer for the sweet words. One of the things I appreciated the most about Mother was her ability to not live in the past; there was no bitterness in her. Alan said it best with, "Nannie, another word for love."

  4. Julie Lyles McKevittJuly 17, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Your Nannie was a great lady, who I am so glad I got to meet and spend time with.


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