Miss Ella

Ella Graham lived west of Waco , west of Crawford right close to where George Bush’s ranch is now located.  She was a good family friend and totally blind.  She went blind when she was only 4 years of age.  She thought that she could remember colors but was not sure.  She was in her early 70’s and had been the first blind school teacher ever in Texas in the little Crawford high school. 

She was very cultured and very romantic.  Even at her age she was still a beautiful white-haired lady.  When she was a student at Baylor they say she was just gorgeous.  Though the young men just lined-up to read her lessons to her back then, she never married.  She said that she felt that being blind, she would have been too much of a burden on a husband. 

But she was such a romantic person that she had gotten her degree at Baylor in Browning.   You know, Elizabeth and Barrett Browning the famous poets who wrote all those romantic poems and that romantic prose. Surely you have read it or heard it…….. like Elizabeth ’s Sonnet 43 as she wrote to her lover, Robert………. 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.   I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace.  I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.   I love thee freely, as men strive for right; I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.  I love thee with the passion put to use in my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.  I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.” 

Wow!  Now that’s romantic!  And Robert Browning’s famous poem/song………Pippa Passes…….as innocent Pippa sings as she passes by……    

The year’s at the spring 
    And day’s at the morn; 
    Morning’s at seven; 
    The hillside’s dew-pearled; 
    The lark’s on the wing; 
    The snail’s on the thorn: 
    God’s in His heaven— 
    All’s right with the world!

The famous Browning Library at Baylor has a bronze statue of Pippa out in front of it, and inside it has all the memorabilia of the Brownings’…….most all of their complete works and even their actual desks from which their writings were done.

Statue of Pippa at Baylor’s Browning Library

Yes, Miss Ella was such a romantic.  She wrote to me on an old typewriter with blue ink ribbon.  Her prose was like reading poetry.  I have kept all of her letters.   Many times when I would have a date with one of those beautiful Baylor girls, I would drive out to Crawford and take her along with us.  She would so enjoy it.  The girls would not mind as she lightly looked them over with her fingers.  She was always so interested in their hands.  She judged them some way or other by how their fingers were shaped.

She would particularly enjoy it when we would take her to the movies.  I think it was because this was something blind ladies never did. 

So, one time she was visiting our home at Rainbow Lake .  It was late in the afternoon.  We were sitting in front of that big picture window that looked down over the lake.  The other windows were wide open to let in the lovely Spring air.  And this daddy Cardinal was just singing his Springtime song at the top of his voice.

See, Miss Ella just loved Cardinals.  They would sing to her outside her bedroom windows near Crawford.  She would mention it sometimes in her letters as she was typing.  Her lovely stationary even had a picture of a red daddy Cardinal at the top of it.

Then, as we were listening to the bird’s song, Miss Ella said:  “Oh, Ronny, I do so wish that I could see a Cardinal!” 

And I must have just prayed, for I distinctly remember thinking:  “Lord, why can’t this lovely, Godly woman see a Cardinal?”

But I was jolted to attention, for my mother called to me to go out to the boat house and get some meat for supper out of the freezer.  I jumped-up and went out the kitchen door and opened the side door to the boat house.   Someone had left one of the big garage-type doors up off the floor for a few inches.  And this bird had gotten into the closed boat house.  There on the floor, right in front of the freezer was this gorgeous, scarlet Cardinal. 

He didn’t bolt up and fly against the glass windows as one would expect.  He just let me catch him.

Of course, I forgot about the meat and took him right back into the house.  Miss Ella got to carefully and lovingly see a real live Cardinal.  Her delicate fingers traced its whole body, especially that beautiful peak on its head from which it gets its name.

We eventually took it back outside and she let it go and it flew softly away.

Now you can say that was just a fortunate accident, but I know with the perfect timing and all, exactly where that bright red Cardinal really came from.   It was no accident for that bird to be right there at that exact moment just for Miss Ella to “see” it.

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