My mother and father were married October 12, 1921 in Buffalo, KY. This was just a few days short of three years from the dates my father’s first wife and son (my brother) had died of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. My father had a daughter born 2 years before the pandemic. She was nearly five years old when my father and mother got married. My mother and father’s families lived less than one mile apart in a very secluded area of Hart County, Kentucky. They moved into the house with my paternal grandfather, my father’s two sisters and a brother. This house was on the farm purchased by my father, his father and brother about two years earlier. There was another house on the farm, but was occupied by my father’s brother, his wife and one year old daughter. In short order my maternal grandfather and others started building a house for my mother and father on the same farm. My paternal grandfather was very controlling. After my grandmother died my father’s oldest sister became the housemother and my grandfather used his control to keep her from finding a mate. His sister played the roll of mother for my sister from 2 to 5 years old. As in all families strange things happen, as my mother describes. When she and my father moved into their new house, they did not know whether my 5-year-old sister was going to live with them or stay with my father’s sisters and my grandfather. Now there you have it. A 29-year-old woman cannot get married but a 5-year-old child can decide where she is going to live. That is my family. However my mother became the only mother my sister ever knew.
My mother was a schoolteacher before she married my father and my father was a tobacco farmer. My father never went to school after the third grade. His education came from reading in front of a sheet iron stove. Upon encountering a word he did not know, he spelled it out for my mother to pronounce and define. My father did not want my mother to teach, he wanted her at home to care for his daughter, which she cheerfully did.
Of course, my father wanted a son, after 3 or four miscarriages hope was fading. Almost 16 years after their marriage my sister got married, but my mother was pregnant again. My mother feared for her life all through the pregnancy. All went well, but no son. 16 months later another child was born, again no son. When my mother was 43 and my father 46 they finally had that most sought son.
I consider my mother and father to be two of the most humble people in my life. My father’s main income came from cultivating tobacco. They attended Three Forks Bacon Creek Baptist Church where my father was deacon for 37 years. He was one that carried the message with very few words. My mother was a Sunday school teacher, beginners mostly. At the end of Sunday school each Sunday we would recite Bible verses. Since I was young, my mother taught me to say, “God is Love”. I still have the same definition today.
One quote from each important to me:
My mother had 5 siblings who had Sunday dinner from birth to death with each other almost every Sunday. In 1978 the first brother died shoveling snow of a heart attack. I did not make the funeral but came 2 months later to find my mother very sad and distraught over her brother’s death. I said, “Mother I do not think you could have helped much since he was probably dead by the time he hit the ground.” She replied quickly, “I could have held his hand.”
Eight months later my mother died and my family was staying with my father he was very sad and crying. I said, “Daddy you have been through this before. I am sure you know what to expect.” He said crying, “It ain’t no easier this time.”