29 March 2012

Memories of My Dear Cousin Babe

Ora Viola Benson--My Cousin Babe
Every so often I meet someone with whom I immediately bond, heart to heart. One such person in my life is my cousin, Babe (Ora Viola Nay Benson). She’s not a close cousin. In fact I didn’t even know of her existence until she was 84 years old, living in a nursing home and unable to speak because of cancer surgery on her throat. I was only able to visit her one time, since she lived over 850 miles away from my home, but she was definitely my family. We are both Nays, and the Nays love family.

The way we met is a story. This month marks the 3rd year anniversary of her death and I’ve been thinking about her. My sister, my cousin Joan, and I had just finished a book about the Nay family. It was a herculean task, but we had help from our other cousins on the “book committee” and from God. Now our names were “out there.” The internet wasn’t nearly as big back then, Google+ wasn’t yet thought of, nor was FaceBook. But back in those days we did have ebay. As I mentioned, Babe was in a nursing home and her only son, Larry Lee, was not well. He was increasingly worried about paying for Babe’s care, especially should something happen to him. Larry was a veteran and he had a computer. He knew a little bit about ebay and reluctantly, he decided to put the family’s Bible up for sale there.
Family Bible given to Ormus B Nay by his mother Thirza

This Bible was not the kind of Bible with scores of names, dates and places in it. It wasn’t even very valuable. But Larry hoped to make a little extra money for Babe. Another Nay cousin, Allen Nay,  busy writing a book from his vantage point as a motorcycle preacher, saw the ebay listing. He contacted my sister and the rest is history. Family history.

You see the only names in the Bible are the names of Thirza Angelina Marly and her son, Ormus B. Nay. Ormus B is Babe’s grandpa and my great-great grandpa. What a treasure! On so many levels. The date revealed even more—March 26, 1887. Ormus B was serving time in the Nevada State Penitentiary at that time. And Thirza was reportedly dead! Now we knew that, just as we thought, she was not dead in 1887, and the Bible proved it.

Ora Viola Nay Benson was a writer, an observer of people and a person who loved people. Our visit with her is one of my most memorable experiences and I treasure the letters she wrote to me before and after our visit. I’m re-reading those letters this month and I’m missing Babe. RIP dear cousin or as she and Larry would say, Mizpah.