I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.
Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom
Ola Mae Turner Myers, my mother, was born in Union County, Tennessee, a farming community outside Knoxville. She was the second child and daughter born to Elsie Seymour Turner and Ura Turner.
My mother’s father was only 22 when he was killed in a mining accident leaving my then 19 year old grandmother with two children under 3 years old.
With winter coming on, my young widowed grandmother packed up a few necessities, bundled up her two babies against the November chill, and moved back home to her mother, Rebecca Seymour.
Rebecca Seymour, my great grandmother, was the
midwife for her Union County community. She had never married, so she raised her seven children alone. That’s right! Rebecca Seymour was one of many women of that place and time, who chose independence over being worked to death on a farm. But that’s another story. She had a horse and wagon and land and work to provide for her needs; and she could do anything that needed to be done: plant, milk, chop, sew, and build. She could comfort her grieving daughter and her precious grandchildren.
I have small girl memories of my own mother in a navy blue suit and a hat. When my mother went out, she came home with paper dolls and helped me cut them out. She played piano by ear, and she had a pretty voice. She mashed butter into white Karo syrup for eating on her hot brown biscuits. When I was sick, she made egg custard in a double boiler. Our red and white striped slip covers and curtains matched, and she had sewn all of it herself. She sewed my seersucker night gowns too. I remember slipping them over my head while I was still damp from the bath.
Those were the good days. Bad times would come for us too, and my mother stood strong. Today I am thinking of these women, the mothers who came before me, and hoping I am just a little like them.