Mother’s Day stories are treasured memories of ‘Mom’

Published 4:51 pm Friday, May 8, 2020

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Sunday is Mother’s Day and it will soon be 20 years since my mother died. But, oh the memories my family has of her.
One of my favorite memories of my mother is her visiting on the front porch of our home with a neighbor and friend, Minnie Gentry. My, what good times they would have on a summer evening sharing stories and laughter as they often strung and broke green beans together. Minnie lived just a couple of houses down the road, and often after supper she would walk up to our house. She and my mother were very much a like in numerous ways. They worked hard raising their families, but they took time to enjoy their friends. And, they often shared a mess of beans or some choice tomatoes from their garden with each other.
Also, from time to time, Minnie would share a gallon of milk or buttermilk with my mother.
Back to the green beans. My mother could cook the most tasty pot of green beans around. In the early summer, when new potatoes came in, my mother would cook some of them with her beans, make a bowl of cole-slaw, and fix a skillet of cornbread. I can still taste those beans.
Also, at this time of the year, we usually had killed lettuce and onions with new potatoes cooked and browned in butter, and served with soup beans and cornbread. Old folks called it kilt lettuce, which was fresh leaf lettuce tossed with hot bacon fat and green onions causing the lettuce to “wilt” and “killing” it.
Early summer was one of my favorite, as it delivered some tasty dishes to the table.
My mother enjoyed gardening — both vegetables and flowers. And, she stayed busy in the summer canning the vegetables she grew in the garden.
My mother almost every day made biscuits from scratch as well as a skillet of cornbread.
And one of my favorite dishes this time of year was her strawberry shortcake. For a time, we grew our own strawberries. My mom would make shortbread, which was thin layers of sweetened biscuit bread, smothered in butter, with sweetened strawberries spooned over it. It was so tasty.
My mother spent a lot of time in the kitchen as she raised a family of 10 children, six of whom are still living.
If your mother is still living, spend some time with her this weekend if it is possible. Someone has said that the most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children. But, as you become older, your mom will become the most precious jewel in your life.
This week, we hope you enjoy the Mother’s Day stories shared by some of our readers.
Susie Johns by her son, Travis Johns
One story about my Mom? One? In three hundreds? No way.
I’m not even going to try to distill her sixty-nine years of life into one story. I’m not going to tell you about that time we went rafting down the Watauga River during a lightning storm and nearly died carrying our inner tubes half a mile back to the car. That’s a great story, but I couldn’t tell it in three hundred words.
And there’s no way to fit in the one about the time I accompanied her on her weekly visit to a local nursing home, and, during a moment of philosophical curiosity, she asked the only deaf and mute resident his thoughts on the meaning of life. That is also a good story! God, but too long.
I only have three hundred words, so what’s the use of trying. What’s the use in telling the story about her visiting me in Los Angeles and ordering fried chicken from the best hamburger joint in the city. A hamburger joint that only sells hamburgers. That is a good and funny story. Still too long, though.
Like the ones about her graduating high school and college in three years. Her raising my sister and me on her own. The one where she worked two-three-four jobs to keep us fed and sheltered.
Or, like the one about her having breast cancer. That’s way too long. That story has all kinds of twists and turns. It’s a harrowing, nail-biting story that would keep you on the edge of your seat, right up until the surprise, happy ending. I think you would like that one. I know I do. Maybe if we run into each other, some day I’ll tell it to you.
But, you know, three hundred words –
Maxine P. Greer by her daughter, Norma Johnson
I close my eyes and remember everything about Mama; her smiles and twinkling eyes, her caring heart and even the way she smelled! But, I guess my fondest memories are of listening to her tell of her own memories of childhood and growing up. I never tired of those stories even through they brought so many tears as they brought hoots of laughter!
Mama, as did so many others her age, grew up hard. And, listening to her tell of that and then seeing the wonderful person she became in spite of it, showed me that a joyful spirit can bring us through almost anything, and even make us stronger.
I love and miss her more each day and thank God always for the “too short” time I had with her.
Lucy Stair by her three daughters
By Betty Stair Hoover
When I got married I lived a block away from Mom so I still spent a lot of time with her. We went shopping and traveled many trips to Nashville — visiting so many relatives and never missing the Grand Ole Opry and Opryland.
Every July Fourth we had a big family picnic, which ended with lots of fireworks across the street at West Side School.
My favorite recipe of Mom’s was her meatloaf and blackberry dumplings.
I love my mom and miss her.
By Glenda Stair Oatman
One of my favorite pastimes was cooking and I was in charge when Mom worked from 1 to 9 p.m. as receptionist at the Franklin Clinic. Mom planned meals nightly but left money if we wanted something different. So, Glenda, about 14, decided something easier, and went across the street to Anderson’s and bought one large watermelon and cut it into four pieces and called: “Supper’s Ready.” Mom told the story to her best friend, JoAnn Smith. They never let me live it down.
Everybody loved Lucy, our beautiful sweet loving mother, who put God first and family next. We lost our dad at age 42 to death, but Mom never failed her four kids. She was always there for us. Sure miss you.
By Kay Stair Wilkins
Our mom was spunky and willing to tackle any problem. She was widowed at age 39 with four children when Dad died. She had no real social life, but loved her church family and job at the Franklin Clinic and became an LPN.
Mom’s house was headquarters when all the family came in. One summer night one of the cousins found a fruit jar and announced “Fill this jar with money because you are coming to Washington state to visit us next June.” Mom was thrilled.
We had an old Hudson so Mom and kinds and her brother, Lewis Merryman, left for a three-week cross country trip. Our first stop, Denver, Colo. Then on the road again to Richland, Wash., to my mom’s brother, Ernest, staying there for one week. Then, on to California for a week, visiting my sister, Frances. So much to see. We didn’t spend one night in a motel!
Wonderful memories for Mom (and all of us) to share on the way home.
Erma Burgess by Gail Berry
My mother is 95 years old and she is still enjoying going and doing. She is a well-loved person — the mother of three children and their spouses, grandmother to three, and has one great-granddaughter, and one great-great-grandson and one great-great-granddaughter.
Possessing a great personality, my mother causes a room to light up when she walks into it.
Each holiday she makes her famous homemade rolls, about 175, so all the family will have some to take home with them.
She is still active in her church and is in the middle of everything.
She loves to travel and go, especially shopping and eating out.
She is a very special mother to each of us. When we were growing up, my mother did everything with us — swimming, hiking, and even tried to roller skate. She got a black eye when she fell and her wedding rings hit her in the eye. She had to go to work the next day and she tried to cover it with make-up. When she told them how she got it, many people could not believe she tried to roller skate.
We feel very blessed to have her as our mother.
Pauline Yates Shell by Rebekah Yates Hung
Pauline Holsclaw Yates Shell was the first child of Fred and Susan Holsclaw’s 12 children. Her youngest brother was John Holsclaw, the “Voice of the Cyclones.”
Since she was the oldest, Pauline was given various responsibilities even when she was 4 years old. She began her day by starting a fire in the stove so she could cook breakfast, etc. Other chores were assigned as well. She only had a 4th grade education but learned a lot from the school of hard knocks. This gave her many character traits. She was Godly, strong, smart, compassionate, a leader, a wonderful cook, and great mother.
My dad, Eugene, died when I was 16. My mother had never worked outside the home. She had sewn for people but now couldn’t find a job. I can remember her saying, “I will dig ditches before I will go on welfare!”
She had always made her own clothes, even the buttons. So, she decided that Elizabethton needed a fabric shop. She borrowed money and opened the Yates Remnant Shop. Customers came from far and near. Before the store closed 50 plus years later, she had customers from all 50 states and several foreign countries. She even shipped fabric to customers. She loved her store and her customers and they loved her. The store was always in her thoughts which brings many stories to mind.
I’m sure her former customers will enjoy them as I share a few. One day she went to the local gas station. She told the attendant that she would like five yards of gas, please! They both got a laugh out of that! Another time I was with her in the meat section of the grocery store. She looked over at me and said, “Wow, I can’t believe the price of this yard of meat!” Then, we both got tickled.
When she first opened the store it was at the corner of Watauga Road and the Bristol Hwy. Not too long after she opened some men came in and said they would like to buy some “moonshine”! She told them she didn’t sell “moonshine.” They argued with her and said they knew she had moonshine in the back of her store because so many cars would not be there every day just for fabric. To their disappointment she finally convinced them she only sold fabric and notions.
My mom was a very religious woman and gave all the credit of having a successful store and life to God. She was a unique and awesome mother. I will always miss her!
Lena Bowers Scalf by Robin Johnson
Where do I begin to tell you about my mother Lena Bowers Scalf?
My mom was only 18 years old when she married my father Harold Scalf. After eight years of marriage and losing two babies, my mom had four children, Robin, Delaney, Scott and Drema. I can remember everything about my mom: her smile, her caring heart and telling us stories about her growing up. Mom was always there to help anybody that she could.
My mom was a loving, caring and nurturing woman. She was a woman of faith, who  loved the Lord. Not only did she have four children, but my dad had six children Bill, Paul, Annie, Jim, Bobby and Sharon, from a previous marriage, and she raised three of those children. My mom taught us values and to love and treat people the way that you wanted to be treated.
She was stern and she didn’t care to tan our hides when we did wrong. But she taught us right and we learned a lot of lessons growing up. She never worked a job but taking care of a house and kids was a full-time job. She babysit a lot of kids in our neighborhood and they all loved her and she was Nannie to them. It was nothing to sit down at supper time and there would be a house full of people that would eat with us. We didn’t have the best of everything, but we had parents that loved us more than life itself. Mom lost her baby sister in December of 2003 to cancer. A couple of months later my mom was diagnosed with cancer herself. She passed away on August 14, 2004, on my sister Drema’s birthday.
I can remember when I was five years old my mom taught me how to make biscuits (of course, hers were the best). Everybody loved my mom’s biscuits and gravy and her fried chicken. She taught me to cook, clean, do laundry, all by the time I was nine years old. She had a pure heart of gold. She left us way too early but God had other plans for her. I will never forget the week she was in the hospital. I would sing to her “You Are My Sunshine” and I called her Sunshine. Two days before she passed she said can you sing me that song one more time. I did, but it was so hard to sing without crying. Mom was truly my best friend in the world and there will never be another person to ever fill her shoes. When God took her home he truly took the best. She is missed today as much as the day she left us. Until we meet again Happy Mother’s Day mom. We love you.

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