Now I’m not saying he was set in his ways or anything, but it was around 1971 before Granddaddy Ballard got rid of his mule. In this photo, we see him about to fetch the mule to go prepare the spring garden. Isn’t it adorable the way he almost has to reach up to unlatch the gate? He’d plow the garden plot behind the house, creating straight rows in which he’d plant corn, butterbeans, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and string beans. Though the mule dwarfed Granddaddy, they made a good team, working together to make a neat, bountiful garden.

And I’m not saying she was set in her ways or anything, but every morning for I don’t know how many years, his daughter/my mother Ada stopped by on her way to work. She seldom stayed long enough to sit down. She’d just ask how he slept, see if he needed anything from town, give him a hug, and be on her way. Before she got out the back door, Granddaddy always put something in her hand. It might have been an apple, a peach, a Three Musketeers candy bar, but she never left his house empty-handed.

One year when she stopped by on her birthday, she left with an apple, a $100 bill, and a story . . .

“Now lookahere, Ada,” he started out. “You’ve always thought I named your after my mule, but let me tell you something once and for all: I didn’t. I named your after my mother. But if you want to keep on believing that I named you after my mule, fine. Just know this, though: of all the mules I ever had, Ada was by far my favorite because she was the easiest going, least stubborn, hardest working, even tempered, most reliable, best damn mule that ever walked the face of this earth.”

AdaElviraLuckieSamsBalla001 copy

Ada Elvira Lucky Ballard Sams,
my great grandmother