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Hartselle Enquirer
Jacob Hatcher

Grandma

By Jacob Hatcher

Her name was Katherine Pitts Cotton, until she married Grandpa and became Katherine Cotton Hatcher. My daddy called her Grandma, and Grandpa called her Kit. She went to Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn., graduating with honors, and then at the age of 20 went to Switzerland with the World Sunday School Convention. After that she taught school for five years, one of which was on a reservation in Oklahoma.

After marrying James Battle Hatcher in 1919, their first son, Jim Haynes, was stillborn in 1922. And this is where Grandma and Grandpas world turned upside down.  All my life I’ve heard Grandma and Grandpa stories.

And the theme of those stories comes back to the fact that Jim dying changed Grandma. This brilliant woman that knew Latin spent the better part of her adult life suffering from mental illness that at the time no one had a clue about. This woman that had excelled in school and traveled all over did things that, if it weren’t for the suffering that made her do it, it’d almost be funny.

Things like don’t tie the horse on the inside of the fence, cause then the flies will get in the house. Or running the well dry hosing down the house. There are probably a thousand more things that we never heard that made life hard for Grandma, and for her husband and six surviving sons.

Move after move, farm after farm, struggling just to make a home; debilitated by something that no one really understood. Back then, they didn’t understand Postpartum Depression. The doctors said she’d studied too hard. Just imagine how different things would have been if they knew then what we know now.

Sadly we know a lot more about mental illness and still treat it not much different than they did back then. Which is something we have to change. Of course, I suppose society did the best it knew how for the time, and for Grandpa’s part, he was a picture of kindness, understanding, and compassion concerning Grandma’s condition.

But us? We know better now. And since we know better, we have a responsibility to do better. For all the Katherine Cotton Hatcher’s of the world who didn’t get a chance to have better through no fault of their own.

Eva

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