When my mother was 6, her mother died and left behind four little girls. The children began a life of instability, encountering one new situation after another. Soon the girls were no longer together but living apart with various relatives.
When my mother was in high school she lived with a family "up town," some distance away from the farm of her childhood. She said that often she did her studies in the little time left after all the chores were done. But with hard work and determination, she graduated from Burnsville High School and continued another year at Asheville Normal School.
Then she married and started her own family. As a wife and mother she joined efforts with her husband to take care of the home while he worked in the mining industry.
My mother lovingly cared for her family: cooking, cleaning, gardening, canning, milking cows, churning butter, gathering eggs, rendering lard and growing the most beautiful and largest dahlias ever. Some of my most precious memories are of helping my mother pick wild strawberries, whitewash the tree trunks, stretch the Priscilla curtains on the curtain frames, make biscuits and hearing her laugh. She may have grown up with much uncertainty, but for me, she provided stability, tender care and love.
She is gone now, but I return to that place called home, spending most of the summer there. I can still hear her laughter, smell her home-cooked meals and enjoy the flowers she planted and tended many years ago.