George Smith: Minnie Lou: Where the roses bloom
Apr 27, 2013 | 5566 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Minnie Lou Mintz Vice
Minnie Lou Mintz Vice
PEEK’S HILL — Minnie Lou’s gone. She left here in the fading light of a Thursday afternoon in her 99th year.

She outlived her husband, Woodrow Vice, by quite a few years. She also outlived a daughter, Marie, by quite a few years.

It is, I suppose, one of the terrible burdens we carry if we live long enough. We outlive our kids, our husband or wife, our siblings, most of our close kin.

But if you ever knew a woman who could carry burdens without whining or looking for tears, it was Minnie Lou Mintz Vice, who lived out her years in an aging farmhouse alongside Gilberts Ferry Road in the northern end of the county.

When she left, she was living with her son Terry and his wife Phyllis. Failing health moved her off Gilberts Ferry Road sometime last year. And to be honest, she left wanting to “go home.”

It’s a good bet that Minnie Lou got her “wants.”

She was my aunt ... by marriage to her niece. Being in her presence, it sometimes came to me that getting her as an aunt was one of the blessings the blonde brought to our marriage.

What happened, best I can gather, is her heart just played out. She left in a deep and peaceful sleep. Would it be that we all are so fortunate.

And would it be we all would be blessed by knowing a Minnie Lou Vice.

Often, in thinking about her, I somehow envisioned her in a sod-baked shanty on the Great Plains of the Dakotas in a time when the nearest neighbor was 50 miles away. Don’t ask me why that comes to me. Perhaps it is a conviction that Minnie Lou Mintz Vice would thrive just about anywhere.

She did it with laughter, too; not a smile, but with laughter.

A memory ...

The first time I met Minnie Lou was a Sunday dinner after church at Oak Grove. I was courting the niece at the time and I suspect Minnie Lou felt I needed a closer inspection. The table was swaying in the middle she had so much food ready, had done so before departing for church. Oak Grove was a church she dearly loved, was there every day until the years forced her to park her car for the last time.

A memory ...

Maybe the first time wasn’t on a Sunday, but a weekday when we went by to be introduced to my new aunt. The view was of her backside, bent at the waist, as she tenderly weeded her tomatoes. A garden was as much a part of Minnie Lou as breath until the years took care of that, too.

A memory ...

Dogs, cats, and chickens everywhere. If a homeless dog or cat drifted into the yard, it was welcomed with food ... and a new home. She also had an affinity for chickens. Once, she had four of the strangest and ugliest chickens ever. “Came from China,” she said.

A memory ...

For years, the first cold snap of autumn was hog-killing time in the community. Neighbors would come and do like three hogs in one day. Dinner (noon) was a treat. I’ll go to my grave wishing I had one more helping of Minnie Lou’s fresh tenderloin. The next day, it was on to a neighbor’s house for another hog killing.

A memory ...

If you’re in the vicinity of Oak Grove Baptist Church this spring and see roses blooming, thank Minnie Lou. In her natural prime, she was forever planting rose bushes around the grave of some departed loved one.

Her explanation?

“Everybody needs a rose.”

Minnie Lou Mintz Vice was our rose and we loved her ... but maybe not as much as we were loved.

Take care, Minnie Lou ...


George Smith may be reached at 256-239-5286 or email:

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