In a heartwarming and joyful family gathering, a photo was taken that captures the essence of strength and love in six generations of remarkable women.
Gracie Howell, 58 years old, proudly shares the story of her extraordinary family, led by her incredible 98-year-old grandmother, MaeDell (Taylor) Hawkins. Last month, they gathered for a special photo that showcases MaeDell cradling her great-great-great-granddaughter Zhavia, who was born in December. This beautiful image creates a powerful connection that spans six generations of women.
“We thought it was unique because it was all girls,” says Gracie with a smile. The photo features Gracie, her mother Francis, her daughter Jacqueline, her granddaughter Jaisline (Zhavia’s mother), and, of course, the matriarchs MaeDell and baby Zhavia herself. It’s truly a testament to the enduring bond that exists within their family.
Gracie lovingly shares that her beloved grandmother, soon to celebrate her 99th birthday in July, possesses a sharp mind and an endless wealth of wisdom. With a twinkle in her eye, MaeDell isn’t hesitant to share her knowledge and insights on caring for children. Gracie recalls a moment during the photo session when Zhavia grew a little fussy. In an instant, MaeDell swooped in and took the baby in her arms, comforting her and tickling her little feet. These sweet memories are what hold their family together.
While Gracie is aware that her family’s story is truly exceptional, she never anticipated the overwhelming response their photo would receive. After sharing it privately with a local meteorologist, along with an explanation of her grandmother’s incredible life journey, Gracie has been flooded with messages of admiration and support. This unexpected recognition has brought MaeDell much-deserved appreciation, and the entire family is truly grateful for the outpouring of love they’ve received.
Reflecting upon her grandmother’s remarkable life, Gracie emphasizes that MaeDell rarely complained, even in the face of significant challenges. At the age of 16, MaeDell married her first husband, a railroad worker who was often away during the week. Together, they raised 13 children and embraced ten stepchildren as their own, all while lacking modern conveniences like a washer, dryer, dishwasher, or even running water.
“I can still remember when I was a teenager, and she didn’t have running water,” Gracie fondly recalls. Despite the hardships, MaeDell always ensured her family had enough to eat, well-prepared meals, and clean clothes. Her resilience and determination are a testament to her unwavering character.
As time passed, the family continued to grow, creating a proud legacy that spans generations. “We have a big family,” Gracie explains with pride. Throughout the years, MaeDell has outlived her husbands and all but one of her stepchildren, living a truly fulfilling life surrounded by love.
“I simply adore her,” Gracie says, radiating warmth and affection. It is clear that the love and respect within this family run deep. The story of these six generations of strong women serves as a reminder of the power of family bonds and the resilience that exists within each generation.