Alyce Faye Bragg: 40 great-grandchildren, and countless dogs later

Our hills were shrouded this morning with a misty fog, which was soon burned off by the rising sun, which made a perfect autumn day. A wayward breeze riffled through the leaves, many of them turning yellow, and lent a cooling factor to the air. The sourwood is turning red on our Clay County hills, and the morning sun touches the hilltops in pure gold. Gold reflects back from the tops of the poplars and sycamores, and the beeches too are burnished with yellow flecks.

From sunup until sundown, when the sun sets in gold and pink layers, these are golden days. The sky is such an intense blue, stretching to infinity. It is reflected in the delicate blue of the wild asters, and the soft blue of the gentians. The goldenrod adds its own sunny glow to the day, and the more modest evening primrose lends its fragrance as well. The tall ironweed sways in regal, purple beauty, and a patina of gold surrounds the earth. I stand in awesome wonder once more at the glory of God’s creation.

Some have wondered whether we would have our glorious showing of multicolored fall leaves, or whether the lack of rain would cause the leaves to turn just a somber brown and fall. I reckon we will find out when frost finally comes and covers our landscape. When autumn comes in all its glory, there is nothing that can compare with the beauty of our mountains! No matter how many fall seasons have unfolded before my eyes, it is ever a new, exciting experience! How I love it! The vast panorama of beauty that blesses the eye and feeds the soul is not to be missed. I am thankful for eyes that can feast upon its beauty, and for ears that can hear the saucy chatter of a squirrel or the lonesome cry of the whippoorwill as it bids a last good-bye. October comes, and my heart swells to bursting.

October is probably my favorite month. Grandpa O’Dell died in October, and in my mind, he went up in a blaze of glory. If we could choose the month when our Lord calls us home, I would probably choose October. However, we can never know. Only God can number our days.

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We just received our 40th great-grandchild, and we are counting our step-great-grandchildren also. Of course they count, and are just as loved as the biological ones. Our granddaughter, Miriam Abigail, has six foster children that she has adopted. She has two older ones that she had naturally, and they are a beautiful family and so loved. It inspires me to take in foster children, but I am too old. I’ll just pet and cuddle hers and Doug’s.

The new great-grandchild was born to Reuben and Carrie Bragg, arriving the 17th. She is a beautiful baby, weighing eight pounds and one ounce, and with a head full of dark hair. She arrived less than a week before the first anniversary of the death of Reuben’s mother, Sarah. They named her Riley Sarah, and we are hoping that her hair will turn as red as Sarah’s!

No matter how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren are added to our family, each one is precious and loved. It’s not over yet, as we have grandchildren who are yet to wed. Mom always told me that the bigger the family, the more burdens that we have. I’m sure that is true, but on the other hand, the more blessings we have also.

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I feel that our little pet dogs are also a blessing. Criss and I have had dogs ever since we were married. He had a little dog named Butch that he brought with him to the little house beside the creek as we set up housekeeping. I can’t remember what he was good for, except to bark. Later on, he began acquiring hunting dogs for squirrels and raccoons.

We had dogs while I was growing up, and I especially remember ‘Lonzo, a big hound dog who loved raw apples. He would tear a burlap sack open to get him an apple, which he chewed up blissfully. Mom would never allow a dog in the house, so we never had a housedog. I remember when I first got Minnie, a little Jack Russell puppy.

She was so sweet and cuddly, and I was so proud of her that I took her to see Mom when she was in a personal care home. I took her in, and plopped her down on Mom’s lap. Mom cringed, held up her arms, and screeched, “Get her off of me!” If she could see us now with our two Jack Russell dogs, she probably would screech again!

We never had housedogs until our daughter-in-law Jennifer brought Criss a little Jack Russell puppy with a red bow tied around her neck. We named her Millie, and she was Criss’ sidekick. She rode on all the farm equipment, from the backhoe to the riding mower, and would have a tantrum if Criss left her in the house. Unfortunately, another dog ran her under the wheels of a wagon when he was hauling meat to be processed. He cried the whole weekend, and still mourns for her.

A lady once castigated me soundly for all the dogs that we have had and passed away, but we have been married almost 65 years, and I doubt if one dog would live that long! We have never been without a dog, and I think we would be lonely indeed. Sparkie, our male Jack Russell, and Polly, the baby, make life lively for us. When I lost Minnie, the one close to me, I grieved for such a long time that Criss bought Polly to take her place.

To make a long story short, she became his dog. She understands so many words, and tries to talk herself. He can say, “Do you want your belly rubbed?” and she immediately flops over on her back. They have their doghouses in our bedroom, and at 9:30 p.m. they are ready to go pee-pee. Then they go to bed, and sleep until about 7:30 the next morning. They are obedient children. We are blessed to have them.

I found a little essay that describes our family, and I’d like to share it. The author is unknown.

“Our family is a circle of strength and love. With every birth and every union, the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love. Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.”

Contact Alyce Faye Bragg at

alycefaye@citlink.net or write to 2556 Ovapa Road, Ovapa, WV 25164.

Funerals for Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Dotson, Jeffery - 7 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Kees, Nancy - 11 a.m., Salem Road Freewill Baptist Church, Oak Hill.

Payne, Arless - 5 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Taylor, Connie - 11 a.m., Memory Gardens, Low Gap.

Taylor, Joseph - 11 a.m., Gauley Bridge Baptist Church.

Williams, Nellie - 1 p.m., Pineview Cemetery, Orgas.

Yates, Ruth - 11:30 a.m., Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum, South Charleston.