A Mother's Day Memory

By Letha Mae Humphrey
A Mother's Day Memory

My Mama, Elizabeth Madeline, was 11 here inside this picture. She is with her mother, Eliza Jane Foy Jarman, who was 25. I wish we could have known our Grandmama.

Grandmama’s dad, Jesse Foy, owned this old Model T Ford. Mama guessed he had a camp in the woods where they visited.

Mama never had a good life, only tragedies. Her dad gave her up to her grandparents to raise her. She told me she only got to be with her mom on vacations like Mother’s Day.

Grandmama did not have it easy either. She started having epilepsy when she was 5 or 6. She jumped in the fireplace and burned her face and had her eye bandaged up. Grandmama had to have someone attend her spasms by placing a spoon in her mouth ‘til they would pass.

Grandmama was 14 when my mom was born, all 10 pounds of her. Mama was the only child after she got on her baby brother and smothered him by accident. Being so sick, Grandmama died when Mama was 21. Both of them had a tough life.

Our mom had a great wood stove, and she cooked on it. The foods were much better slow cooked. She had a warming closet at the top and a reservoir for boiling water to wash the dishes. She baked biscuits and cakes and cookies in the oven. We kept stove wood that Daddy cut.

My Aunt Emma from around Browntown, Snow Hill, had a wood stove, too, with a warming closet. She had an old ringer type washing machine and rinse tubs. She made her own lye soap. She had an old calendar from way back yonder with Coke Cola and women on it.

We did not have snacks to munch on, like the Ingalls had. We had to wait for dinner and supper, and most of the time it was parboiled, like greens and boiled potatoes and boiled meats. Coffee smelled up the whole house when it was boiling. It was awesome to smell. I had to sneak coffee, if I got any at all.

Times were hard and money was hard to come by. But we had lamps. When our current went out, it was fun ‘til we got thirsty.

Daddy chopped all the wood. We dragged long trees up out of the woods when it snowed. Our Daddy never came in to warm himself at all, like Charles Ingalls, ‘til he quit cutting. We’d go in the woods when drizzling rain and ice would be hitting our little faces and turn them red. We wrapped our heads up with pillow cases and scarves if we had any. Mama sat to the fire with our smaller siblings. Our little hands were cold, and all we had to wear were socks. We held them over our heater, like Laura and Mary Ingalls would do, to thaw them up by blowing on them.

For Mama

Mama, I love you for just being there for me, doing for me when I couldn’t. I’d buy you the world, but I can‘t. I wish I could give you a mansion all of your own and a white picket fence with red roses. I give you my love, my strength, my all as long as you’ll let me. You never had much except a man that would walk five miles for you and us nine young’ns. And it was a hard way to go. But you’d never change it for love or money.

About the Author

Letha Mae Humphrey writes to us regularly from Greene County. She and her husband, Julian, have been members of Pitt & Greene EMC for 48 years. She recently has been battling cancer, but reports that her last PET scan found her cancer-free.

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