I don’t know why, but for the last few weeks I have had Mama on my mind. I’ve been remembering so many things. My mama was just fifteen when her mother died from complications from Asthma. Back then nothing much could be done for asthmatics. They didn’t have inhalers and steroids that one can just spray into their mouth and instantly feel better.
My mom was sent to stay with distant relatives in Kings Mountain, N.C. She met my dad when they were both nineteen. They were both working in a cotton mill (where most everyone in the South worked). They were pretty smitten with each other. One girl had her eye on Daddy too! From what I understand , Mama walked over to her one day and told her that Daddy belonged to her. She apologized to Mama and told her she didn’t know that! We laughed about that for years.
They got married in March, 1914 and my sister Lucille was born 9 months and three days later. In three years my sister Edith was born. They would be blessed with nine more children, one every two years! After only having one of my own, I cannot, to this day, figure out how my mama did it.
We were poor , as most everyone was back in those days. My daddy was called into the Ministry when Sue, the seventh child was born. She had asthma and was having such a struggle. It was then Daddy told God that he would quit running from the ministry, if he would heal his little girl . Well she is eighty years old now. Still singing in the choir at church and doesn’t miss church unless she is sick. I think that tells the story of God’s goodness and mercy.
Can you imagine what a hard life my mama had? All those children, all that work but with God’s help she made it. I can’t remember, ever, hearing her complain, or say things like, “I’m sick” or “I have a headache and must lay down”. She did wear a white cloth tied around her forehead a lot. She also had heart problems, but she would never let us call the doctor. We would have to slip and call him. He would always say “Your mama would do better if she would let you children call me when she first starts having trouble with her heart.”
Once when she was in the hospital, the day she was to leave, most of the nurses who hadn’t met her, came down to her room to meet her!
I can remember her gathering all of us around her and we would sit for hours listening to her stories. She had so many children, she had to miss church quite a bit. We lived beside the church and some of the children would try to slip out of church so they could come to see Mama. I can still remember some of the songs she sang to us when we were little. She played a guitar, or maybe strummed a guitar, would be a better word.
I think Victoria is the one who got me thinking about my own Mom. She was writing about her mom on her birthday. She was an extremely gifted lady. I started thinking of my Mama as a woman, not just my Mom. She had no family in Kings Mountain. When she was sad, when she was lonely, when her heart was hurting and she needed someone to talk to, when she was happy… who did she have that she turned to? Was there anyone there to listen? I ‘m sure my daddy was there but sometimes when I need to talk, I just need another friend to listen to me and let me cry when I need to. I’m sure God was there, always for her.
When Sue was born, from what one of the older children said, Mama didn’t even have clothes to put on her. Mama was sitting there washing her feet getting ready for the birth of her baby girl, with tears streaming down her face. My heart aches when I think about that!
Thinking back on my life, and my siblings, we saw Mama as just mama. She was a strong, wonderful woman, wonderful cook, wonderful story teller. We adored her. But, I wish I had taken the time to find out more about her as a young girl, how she felt about her mom dying and her having to leave the only home she had ever known and go and live with practically strangers, How she felt when she saw my daddy for the first time.
When I get to Heaven, we are going to have a long, long talk and I will ask her to forgive me for so many things I didn’t do for her while she was living.
I remember her walking over to my daddy’s casket. Leaning over and so tenderly touching his face and running her fingers through his hair! Everyone could see the love on her face!
I have a feeling she will look at me and smile and say “My child, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!”