I spent the first years of my life in and out of foster homes and hospitals to then be adopted into the Turner family. Grandma raised six children of her own, and when I came along she treated me like a seventh. Grandpa rarely smiled or laughed, but when he did, he meant it. Grandma went to church and Grandpa chewed plug tobacco. In many ways their personalities made little sense together, but in the most beautiful way. Grandma doted on me and Grandpa was stern, but so unbelievably proud that my father named me after him.

As a young man Grandpa Jake was a sweet potato farmer in Portales, New Mexico, with his family heritage based in Georgia. At age sixteen, Grandma ran away from Missouri with her sister. I’m not sure of the reasoning but they ended up in New Mexico. Grandma was a waitress at a diner, and in all of New Mexico it was the diner Grandpa daily ate lunch at. After their wedding and a few more years growing sweet spuds, they moved back to Grandmas roots in Missouri just a few miles north of the Arkansas line.

Grandma and Grandpa were uprooted when the White River became Table Rock Lake. They sold what little of the farm remained above water and moved into Barry County. There they raised a family, grew a garden, and tended cattle. Grandpa was a serious man who worked hard, rarely took time off, looked out for those who couldn’t look out for themselves, and was proud of his work.

Often I get told I don’t smile much, which is probably true. I hope a perpetual scowl isn’t the only way I am like Hubert Memory “Jake” Turner.

  • Little Jake