There’s really little I like better than visiting with matriarchs. I wouldn’t say this without including their men, except most men of the matriarchs let their women do all the in-depth discussion stuff, or they’re no longer around to tell their tales.
I love to get male viewpoints on life, especially from men who have well-learned life’s lessons, but trying to get a man to spill what he knows without another man present is really like pulling hen’s teeth, or trying to herd cats; and I don’t know which is more difficult.
I got a double matriarchal mind-meld yesterday; it may take me a while to process all the wisdom I collected. I began the day with a call from Mamie informing me that she’s following my example and leaving Coker Creek for a while. I admitted that I knew wanderlust was contagious and asked where she was heading. She was delighted to tell me that she decided to break with the rest of us who fled the mountains during the cold weather and go south now that it’s getting warm.
When I expressed concern that she may not return in time for the ground to be dry enough to plow, she wasted no time in giving me an garden preparation assignment “for Richard” while she’s away. I guess she really has given up on me ever being useful in the manual labor department. I dropped by her house to tell her bon voyage, and then headed to Vonore to meet the inspiration for Jack’s publishing efforts.
What a delightful woman! Mary is eighty years old and still going strong. Even though she walks with a cane, there’s nothing pitiful about her. Her eyes and mind are as lively as one could ever wish to have, no matter what one’s age. When I asked if she was still tutoring GED students, she revealed that she’s not tutoring, but is substitute teaching. Can you imagine the drive that she must have, still entering the classroom at age eighty – with the help of a cane? She says she may give it up this year – much like Mamie threatens yearly to give up her chickens and egg empire, I suspect.
One of my favorite topics to discuss with these lovely ladies is the partnerships they had with their husbands. Both Mamie and Mrs. Mary are long-time widows that are quite in love, to this day, with the men they married. It’s so refreshing and informative to hear how they over came life’s challenges and celebrated life’s successes together.
Mamie still loves to recount the nights they planted the crops necessary to she and her husband Frank Sr.’s , and their family’s survival by the light of their truck and tractor lights. Even though I just met Mrs. Mary, she shared beautiful memories of her childhood on Citico Creek, her education at the Quaker school in Tennessee, her chance meeting and subsequent courtship and marriage to the love of her life and some of the challenges they overcame as a couple.
What generous souls! I need to keep these stories coming; I can use all the advice that I can get on keeping my hero happy– or he may stop waiting for me when I go on my adventures without him.