They were a pair of misfits; old maid sisters who never fit in and who learned to cling to each other for support against a world that was often cruel and heartless. They lived lonely lives and died lonely deaths, and probably were soon forgotten by most of the people who ever knew them.
Margaret and Anna Mae Rash were well known to generations of young people growing up in Plymouth, Indiana, who often tormented the sisters as they passed by their house, calling them "Heckel and Jeckel," ‘The Haggle Sisters,” “The Apple Twins," and "Seedy and Corey."
Some kids would hurl insults when they saw the sisters sitting on their porch, and others went even further, sometimes throwing rocks instead of words. Some say Margaret and Anna Mae kept a tin can full of rocks handy to throw back in self-defense.
One local woman recalled that the two sisters went everywhere together, and that they were never apart. Theirs was a lonely existence, with few friends, and who could blame them if they turned more and more inward?
But John Reed knew another side of these two lonely women. His family were neighbors to Margaret and Anna Mae, and as a young boy, he would visit with them and sit on their porch to talk. He may have been the only friend they had. He remembers them not as grouchy old hags, but as two sweet old ladies who were forced to grow an armor of defensiveness as an act of self-preservation.
Margaret Rash died in 1992, and I can only imagine how much lonelier life must have been like for Anna Mae, who died in 2007, with nobody to comfort her in her last years.
Recently John Reed visited Oak Hill Cemetery, where Margaret and Anna Mae are buried, side by side, just as they lived. He was dismayed to discover that they did not have a proper headstone, just small markers to designate their final resting place. Reed decided that the women deserved the respect in death that was denied them in life, and launched an effort to raise the money to erect a fitting headstone over their graves.
When word got out about Reed’s project, and people heard the story of the Rash sisters, it did not take long for the donations to start flowing in, and soon a handsome single headstone will grace their graves, with their names, dates of birth and death, and the simple inscription “Do unto others…” at the bottom. Reed says it was a lesson his old friends taught him as a young boy, over 25 years ago, sitting on their front porch.
I think if Margaret and Anna Mae are looking down, and have seen John Reed’s act of love, they may feel that they left a mark in this world after all.