Many of my childhood memories revolve around visits to my grandfather’s farm in North Carolina. Boots, a pocket knife, and camouflage were what defined me. We spent all kinds of time out in the woods, fishing, or just carving on sticks. My grandfather is a physician and my grandmother a nurse. They always had to go down to the office and see their patients, which left me and my brother Josh with plenty of free time to explore, build forts, and tromp around.
On occasion my parents would leave us for a longer visit. When this happened, and the grandparents were at work, we were left with the maid, Viola Crowder. She was pretty much the nicest lady we had ever met. I was quite young at this time and many of my earliest memories involve “Vi-Lola” as I called her. I couldn’t say “Viola.” (It should be noted that the “i” is long in Viola, unlike the instrument with the same spelling. If you can say this name quickly, you’re saying wrong. When pronounced correctly it kind of rolls out of your mouth in its own time.)
Nine months ago I had a daughter. We named her Viola Grace. We call her Lola.
Last week, we got the chance to visit Miss Crowder in her home in rural North Carolina. She never married and lived her life with her brother who also never married. The home they lived in is now falling down so she has purchased a mobile home which sits next to the old house.
She’s 87 years old now and lives alone on Crowder Lane.
Below are twelve images from our brief visit. She was really thrilled to hear I had name my daughter Viola. My Lola was a bit tentative at first, but soon warmed up to this dear old lady. This was a special time for us.