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Monday, March 19, 2012

Hold Everything Lightly #3 {Mama and Vera}

Mama is from Hangingdog, North Carolina.
 It is a community of houses, churches, and a couple of stores scattered across the mountains in the western part of the state. It is remote and not a lot different now than when mama was  a child, except for the cabins with the designer kitchens. My grandaddy was an old widower with ten grown children when he married my young grandmother. They were dirt poor, meaning all that they ate came from what they could grow out of the earth or they did not eat. After fathering three children {one died} grandaddy died leaving my grandmother alone with two small kids in a tiny mountain cabin. I have a photo of my grandmother and two small dirty children standing in the doorway of an unpainted shack. They farmed the land and managed the hardscrabble life until grandmother died on my mothers fourteenth birthday of deep vein thrombosis {a blood clot} in her leg. Today she would have survived but not then and not in those mountains.
Mother moved to South Carolina to live with her much older half brother Lester and his wife, Vera.
 Uncle Lester had moved south to work at the large nuclear plant being constructed in Aiken county.  Lester and Vera had no children but longed for them. Vera was from Alabama and was traveling on a train when her appendix burst. She survived that emergency but was rendered infertile. God did by many strange ways provide her with four children. I was the fourth. She and Lester raised two boys from Alabama prior to mama's arrival. She had her hands full with my adolescent mother who had been cooped up in those mountains and now was close to a large city. It made for trouble, boy trouble. My mother was devoted to Aunt Vera as was anyone who knew her. In later years we were hesitant to speak Vera's name for mother would burst into tears. Vera impacted our lives with so much good it is hard to measure.

The account blurs for me here.
 I know that mother graduated from high school. Some where she meets daddy, a divorced man with two children.  I cannot see Aunt Vera approving of that at all. Perhaps my Grandaddy formidable as he was smoothed it over. Soon after I was born into that instant family of a brother and a sister. How I loved my big brother. My big sister who was old enough to remember her biological mother was rebellious and daddy not knowing any better at the time sent her off to the state girls schools for troubled youth. Dear Lord who could blame my sweet troubled sister for having her mother torn from her? Sending my sis to the girls school was an error on daddy's part as she came back badly scarred. Mama did the best she could with her new family and given her youth and temperament it was astonishing it lasted as long as it did.

For # 1 in the series go here

and for #2 here



  1. I feel as though I'm reading a novel by Steinbeck or Hemingway...and I say that with all seriousness. You are a gifted writer. You draw your reader in and I have to tell you not only did you draw me you hooked me as well. I hope you are getting as much out of this as your readers. Have a good week Olive...Ann

  2. I jumped over here as soon as I saw what you were writing about today. I am loving this series and have to say I am a little bit addicted to reading about your family. You are making me think I need to put my family story down on paper before it is lost (maybe I'll use the new typewriter).

  3. Only giving myself a 10
    minute peek at blogs today,
    I was drawn like a moth to
    your post. Vera sounds like
    the glue that kept it all together.
    Imagine your grandma left alone
    to fend for herself and two
    little ones. You come from
    some strong stock, my friend!

    Love &Hugs,

  4. As a young adult I visited some of my distant relatives, (My California Grandma's people), in the 'hollers' of Kentucky; those images come to mind when reading this.

    What a treasure this series is. You leave me wanting to hear more and more!


  5. Life is full of pitfalls and can be terribly depressing yet it is an amazing journey - while we suffer from 'the curse' of sin - God has provided compensation and knowing you even slightly makes me see His hand is much of your story.

  6. Another enthralling entry in this real life saga.

    Kat :)

  7. Girl, you know how to tell a story, plain and simple. God has given you a great gift to be able to put all this down in writing. You know we're all with you in this, much love, Debra

  8. Dearest Olive - your story is one of great highs and lows. It is really interesting for the reader. However writing it down could be therapeutic. A trouble shared is a trouble halved. It is also important for your daughter to know your story, and any future offspring that may come your way.
    Thank you Olive for the help you have given me recently, which is much appreciated.

  9. Another interesting chapter in your life told so well!


  10. Vera is a woman I would very much have wanted to meet. The kind of rock everyone should have in their lives to cling to.
    I agree with Ann...Steinbeck or Buck. The ghosts of your past are coming alive once again through your words.

  11. Olive, Yours is one amazing story that needs to be written in book form. I feel like I'm ready a movie script that you watch thinking, this only happens in the movies, not real life. Oh, the wonderful grace of God.....
    Mary Alice

  12. Olive, you are such a gifted writer and have such an interesting story to tell. It must be amazing for you to look back and see your history and now your present. You are so giving to share this story with us and I hope you are finding relief in writing it. I also hope you are finding a sense of pleasure and pride because you have so very much to be proud of. As the saying goes, "You'e come a long way, baby!" We all love you so much. XO

  13. Olive love how you write, nice Post Greetings from south Emisphere!

  14. You are a natural storyteller, Olive. I'm sure you've heard that. It's fascinating to hear your tale. And it seems that I am ALWAYS owing you a visit! You are such a sweet thread woven all throughout blogland!

  15. What a great story. Richard from my old Historic House.

  16. Love how you wrote this, Olive. Off to read the rest of the series.

  17. Another beautiful, and graphic entry. I'll be back.

  18. Somehow I missed installment two but now I am all caught up. I am enthralled and anxiously waiting for number four and five and.... Patty

  19. Olive,
    I have just read all of these posts. They are compelling. I am thankful that you are sharing your family history.
    My family originated in WV, and I have some of the same cultural background.

  20. How brave you are to write of your history - I too felt like I was reading a novel. Your "voice" pulls the reader in and brings them to that scene. Thank you so much for sharing - I look forward to more!

  21. How brave you are to write of your history - I too felt like I was reading a novel. Your "voice" pulls the reader in and brings them to that scene. Thank you so much for sharing - I look forward to more!

  22. This is such brilliant writing Olive. I am living the story with you. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  23. Such an amazing story -- you've missed you calling my friend - you should be writing novels :)



I adore your comments. They are like finding unexpected chocolates. olive