INGOMAR, Miss. (WCBI) — She was born the same day prizes started appearing in Cracker Jacks. It was a simpler time that few of us can even comprehend.
And that simple life has served her well.
Sunday, neighbors not just celebrated her 102nd birthday but also paid tribute to what she and her family have meant to the community they’ve called home for generations.
Fannie Mae Grisham was born Jan. 19, 1912 in the Ingomar community in southern Union County.
Sunday, dozens of friends and family turned out to wish her well.
In her 102 years, she’s never strayed far from home. She remains fiercely independent and even today, still lives alone. Except for cooking help from family and friends, she still takes care of many daily needs.
“She doesn’t want anybody to take care of her, do anything for her. She wants to do everything herself,” explained her 83-year-old son, John Grisham, who lives across the road from his mother.
She had a son and daughter and today is surrounded by eight grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. The lessons she passed on are the ones she learned growing up in rural Mississippi.
“Being stable in life and taking care of everything one day at a time is probably the most common thing we learned,” John Grisham said.
During the depths of the Depression, she worked in a shirt factory in New Albany for $12-$15 a week. She’d come home each day to more work.
“When I came home the cotton needed to be picked and I got me a sack and went to the field and picked it. I enjoyed picking cotton, I just like to work,” Fannie Mae Grisham remembered.
She says the last time she picked cotton — she couldn’t remember when it was — she picked seven bales by herself.
She and her family thrived on simple pleasures.
“Back then we got a Coca Cola for a nickel and a big piece of candy for a nickel. Now you have to pay 75 cents,” she noted.
And Ingomar has always been in her heart.
She and her late husband helped build Fredonia Baptist Church and the family remains strong members.
Ingomar School has been and is a center of her life. You can hear it in her voice.
“I enjoy ball games more than anything else. I like to go to ball games,” she said, having been to hundreds to see children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren play sports there.
Ask her favorite team and her voice perks up: “Ingomar!”
She’s only been to a hospital three times and had surgery once. Her secret to long life is simple.
“A lazy person don’t never get that old<‘ she stated, as if summing up the obvious.
And how she will be remembered one day is just as simple but a legacy one worth striving for.
“Oh as a very loving, hard-working person,” John Grisham said of his mother.
Many of her children and grandchildren still live in the Ingomar community.
Sunday’s celebration was held at Fredonia Baptist Church.