Dear Editor, this is a tribute to a Mother,
Sunday was Mother’s Day. Traditionally, the second Sunday of every May has been set aside for recognizing and honoring the person who brought us into the world.
For all mothers still living, a dinner out and/or a white carnation might be appropriate for her recognition. For mothers who have completed their earthly journey a white rose is normally worn to recognize and honor her memory. The white rose symbolizes loyalty, purity, and innocence and is often connected to spiritual love. There is nothing purer than the love between a mother and a child. For the past thirty-four years the white rose has been my means of recognizing and honoring my mother.
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Her given name was Pearl Ann and that was a fitting name for my mother. By definition, a pearl is a person or thing of great rarity and worth. My mother was a rare person indeed and certainly of great worth to her family. I wish you could have known her. You would have loved her as much as her children loved her.
Mommy, as we always called her, was born on October 4, 1904. She was just one of many other mothers-to-be born that same day in this mountain region. Born into poor surroundings, she would only attain a fourth-grade education, but she was far wiser than those four school years. Her real education would come from the experiences she lived and endured during her lifetime.
Mommy lived during World Wars, the Great Depression, sixteen different presidents and many new inventions that greatly improved life for those of her generation. She left no record of those years, but had she done so, there would no doubt have been several volumes.
Mommy gave birth to seven children during her lifetime. Six were born at home with only a doctor, neighbor, or midwife present.
Married first at age sixteen, she gave birth to two children before her husband died of a virus. Left with no support, she took to washing and cleaning houses for those who could afford it in order to support her family. Married a second time in 1929, she gave birth to five other children.
Things were difficult in those times but with faith, resolve, industry and help from her immediate family, she endured and survived. Later, in sharing some of her experiences with me, she never expressed bitterness or sorrow over her fate in life.
In those difficult and humble surroundings, Mommy’s character developed and matured. She acquired a strong work ethic and learned not to complain about her lot in life, whether it was the absence of material things or physical suffering. In her later years, when she was pained with diabetes, shingles, a gall bladder attack, cataract or other infirmities, plus having to walk with the aid of a cane, it is noteworthy to say she complained very little about her sickness or pain. It was her way of not burdening her family. She suffered in silence.
In speaking of her strong work ethic, Mommy survived eighty-four years without the assistance of a welfare check, government food stamps, or any social help from local, state, or federal government.
Mommy did not leave any material wealth at the end of her life. A lifetime of work in the home wealth. She left the examples of spiritual and moral traits which far transcended material things. These traits included honesty and faithful living; virtues greatly needed in today’s society.
Regarding her formal education, Mommy was not a trained nurse, but she took on that role many times during those years of raising seven children. No one knows the number of nights when she sat up to tend to a sick child. Many were the cuts, bruises, illnesses and other health problems that required her attention and care, especially during our childhood. She did an excellent job as a nurse, for we all survived adulthood.
She was not a trained chef, but I wish you could have dined at her table. For many years she cooked three meals a day, most starting from “scratch.” She did not have the luxury or assistance of a supermarket or of processed food. In most cases, the “can” she opened would have been one she had sealed herself during canning season.
Cooking on a wood burning stove for most of her life, she finally received an electric stove in the early 1950’s. She confided to me once that she had to “learn to cook all over again.”
Mommy was not a trained tailor, but she either made or mended most of what her children wore in their early years. The three daughters would receive an expertly tailored dress made from feed sack material. The sons had their shirts and trousers repaired when needed. By her skill as a tailor, the life of our clothes was greatly extended, thus saving money needed for other necessities.
Mommy was not a trained farmer, but she knew how to grow gardens, preserve food and provide for her family. She made “wild” salads from poke plants and other wild greens that grew abundantly beside the road and on the hillside. She milked a cow twice daily, processed the milk, saved the cream to make butter and buttermilk, plus helped hoe and harvest the filed crops. Through her efforts she fed her family all those years and we ate very well.
Mommy was not a trained financier, but she knew how to manage money. By her management, she assisted daddy in paying bills, buying a home, buying vehicles, schoolbooks, running the household, plus a multitude of other things that involved money.
Mommy did all the above and more. I am confident there were many times during those years that she did not feel well or needed rest, but she always met the needs of her family. She was just one of many other mommies in this mountain region who performed the same duties.
Mommy went to sleep on Monday the night of December 21, 1987, and passed quietly into her heavenly forever afterlife during the morning hours of December 22. She had run her race of life and had made her small contribution to mankind.
To all the mothers now gone from the earthly scene and who are greatly missed…long live their memory.
Once upon a memory
She wiped away a tear;
Held me close and loved me,
Thank you, Mother dear!