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The Brief Passage of Maydeth Scott


Even a short life makes history

History ignores the young. But history also lives in the human heart, not just in textbooks. A vintage baby book discovered in an antique shop reveals the short life of a lost child.





READ: The Hidden Room of Uncle Em

History is biased against the young. It glorifies those adults who make a dent in the world, both the heroic and the dastardly. The louder their impact, the more historians write about inventors, soldiers, and criminals, pop stars and politicians. The meek may inherit the earth, but they rarely make it into the history books. What historians miss, inevitably, is the impact children – and the love they engender -- make on the human heart.

And so what we call history, is often a cold and soulless recounting of dates and dollars, details and death tolls. But once in a rare while, someone like Maydeth comes along to remind us what really matters.

MaydethMaydeth Scott died just shy of her second birthday in 1930. On her last day she woke early and teased her mother to be dressed, then rode in the car with her father to pick up her grandfather, who worked nights. Back home, she ate breakfast, then helped fix breakfast for her kittens.

She played with her favorite doll, tapped on the family piano and sang a tune of her own composition. Then she climbed all by herself into her little wooden chair next to the sink where her mother was washing dishes.

What happened next redefined my family history. That’s when Maydeth’s grandfather, my great-grandfather, came in from the yard to get water for the hens. Standing in her chair Maydeth was helping her grampa work the pump at the sink when she slipped, cried out and fell to the floor. Her mother, my father’s Aunt Pearl, rushed to cradle the child and held her in a rocking chair. Maydeth spoke once, but then her head lolled back. She "twinged and writhed in convulsions" her mother later wrote.

For three agonizing days, the doctors struggled and failed. "Our hearts are aching," the child’s mother finally recorded in a journal. "Maydeth is in heaven."


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