2017-05-17 / Editorials

Don Lively


Mama must have looked quite stunning that day, early in 1946, when Daddy walked into the telephone office where she worked as an operator. Daddy's attention was immediately grabbed by the pretty brunette stranger sitting at her switchboard wearing a headset, looking very professional I'm certain. I heard him say many times that, as soon as he saw Mama, he knew that he wanted to marry her.

There was, however, one minor problem.

Daddy was there to see another gal.

A friend of Mama's.

Fortunately for me and my siblings, and the twenty-one, soon to be twenty-two, grands and great grands, Mama's friend turned out to be the most gracious woman that the Blessed South has ever produced. Apparently, she instantly picked up on Daddy's attraction to Mama, and when Daddy asked her who Mama was, she unselfishly told him to go talk to her.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Daddy was twenty-nine years old, just back from "over there", having helped Eisenhower and Patton defeat Hitler and Mussolini in WWII. Mama was nineteen, less than two years out of high school and, evidently, she was just as smitten with Daddy as he was with her as substantiated by the fact that they were practically inseparable for the next fifty-three years until Daddy went to Heaven.

I think about Mama, and Daddy, a lot, but this week, Mother's Day week, brings back so many wonderful memories and sets me to reminiscing about the years I spent growing up on the farm, Daddy in charge of the fields and forests, Mama in charge of the house. Back then it didn't appear to be a threat to world harmony or to feminism for a woman to be a full time wife and mother. It was more the norm than the exception. Especially if the family were farmers. The wives were just as vital to the farm operations as were the husbands, and the wives more often than not had double duties, helping with the crop growing, and keeping the kids clean, clothed and fed.

Mama did it all and she did it all well.

Somewhere there is an old photograph of Mama sitting high up on the driver's seat of a brand spankin' new, Ben Pearson, one row cotton picker. It was painted deep blue from the chassis (Do cotton pickers have chassis's?) to the top of the basket that was at least fifteen feet off the ground. It was state of the art in the late 60's. No telling what my folks paid for it. The picture shows Mama proudly atop the massive machine looking for all the world like she's ready to harvest some fiber. I don't actually know if she ever really operated the machine but, I do know that she could have if she needed to.

She was a dyed-in-the-wool, bona fide farm wife.

Over the years, especially before we were old enough to drive, Mama would wrestle the fully loaded peanut trucks, or pull the cotton trailers behind the pickup, into town. She probably hauled thousands of loads of freshly picked crops to the various gin houses that dotted our neck of the woods. As soon as one truck or trailer was unloaded, she would return to the field for more.

She was also occasionally called on to supervise the weed pulling, before we were old enough to be trusted alone with that chore. She'd be right out there with us, bending and pulling until it was time to go in and start cooking dinner (Lunch to you Yankees) or supper (Dinner to you same Yankees).

And, Lordy, could she cook.

Three hearty meals a day, every day. Going out for fast food or calling out for pizza was unheard of. Mama's meals were made up of meat, vegetables and bread, usually cornbread or biscuits.

Oh my, those biscuits.

To this day I can still smell and taste those cathead biscuits. They were like delicacies to me and since I was a rather large, growing boy, eating six or seven of them at a sitting was no problem.

Mama was much more.

She was the mender of cuts and bruises as well as broken hearts.

She was the taxi driver for four busy kids.

She was a spectator at nearly all of our games.

And, she taught us all about Jesus.

I have no doubt that Mama has met Him and thanked Him for saving all of her children.

Thank you for leading the way, Mama.

Happy Heavenly Mother's Day.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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