Imagine if you will, my Mother jumping up and down, clapping her hands and squealing “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh. My. God!” That was the gist of her reaction at seeing a road sign on the way to the Shirley Plantation this morning. The fact we were in the car on a narrow road with no shoulder, nor were expecting an outburst, didn’t deter her in the least. I’ll get back to the cause of the squealing in a moment.
The Shirley Plantation is on the James River and has been lived in by the same family since 1638. The eleventh generation is living in the second and third stories of the house now. It is also the only plantation in Virginia that was not burned during the Civil War because it was used as a hospital for Union troops. The house was almost as stunning as the 350 year old oak tree in the back. There were priceless family portraits on almost every wall, so imagine my surprise when we discovered that the portrait hanging over the dining room fireplace was that of Elizabeth Byrd, who married into the family about three generations into the story and is my great great great great great great grandmother. I am kind of bummed that I was not mentioned in the will.
I should back up a moment to explain that my Mother is heavily involved in geneology. She has tried to get one of her offspring to become interested and take over the research, to no avail. She had no idea before we saw the portrait in the dining hall that we had ties to the Shirley Plantation. What a surprise.
Now to the part about the squealing. I’d try to think of another word, but nothing else adequately describes it. A few miles before we reached the Shirley Plantation, there was a sign about the Westover Church and Plantation. Mother knew it was in Virginia but had no idea that it was in the immediate area, hence the squealing. The Westover Plantation plays heavily into the family lineage, which I would know if I was involved in the geneology stuff. It was owned by William Byrd, who was my great grandpappy several times removed. If you’re keeping up by flowchart or family tree, it was a Byrd girl who married the owner of the Shirley Plantation. My great grandmother’s maiden name was Byrd. Her middle name was Armenta. That’s not really germaine to the story, but Armenta? Really? Anyway, turns out I’m kind of a big deal. Who knew?
The late afternoon and evening was spent in Newport News. One of my Mother’s great granddaughters, Bella, lives there now and it’s only about 20 miles from Williamsburg. We surprised her and picked her up after school. Mother spoiled her with a shopping trip and dinner. It was great getting to see her!
Now for one final story. Mother’s teeth must have been feeling a little itchy, so she decided to start her day by brushing her teeth with Cortaid. At least it wasn’t Preparation-H. I think it took about 30 minutes of rinsing her mouth with water to get rid of the taste when a bottle of Grey Goose was within easy reach. Her problem solving skills are sadly lacking.