She was the seventh child born, her popa
worked in the coal mines
and ran moonshine, her mama was a lay
midwife and birthed all the mountain
babies and served the Lord.
She learned at an early age that
nothing came easy, by the time she
was nine, she was cooking breakfast
for papa at five o'clock in the morning
and scrubbing clothes down at the creek,
she didn't do no complaining
for she knew that she'd get the strap,
her faith in the LORD had brought
her through many a brutal beating.
At fourteen, she married a fellow
several years her senior,
her life so miserable, she didn't
realize she was headed for even more.
My daddy was a man who liked wine,
women and song and he liked to keep
mama in her rightful place, under his
fist, and he had no problem doing that.
Mama had a baby girl every other year,
one after the other,
and she had as many miscarriages as
she had babies, mama never sang
anymore like she use to.
There wasn't any sparkle left in her
big brown eyes, many be the time I
would hear her crying, as she prayed
long into the night.
But if mama was anything,
she was a loving mother, she would
iron clothes for a neighbor
all day, for some beans and potatoes
to feed us kids.
When mama gave birth to her sixth
child, daddys' moonshine running had
him locked up in jail,
grama came to deliver her, mamas bed
was wet from rain because the roof
was falling down, mama hadn't been
hungry for a couple of days,
"or so she said"
she had insisted us kids eat her food
so it wouldn't go to waste.
I wondered why grama had such a
worried look on her face, Mama labored
all that day and most of the night,
the sun was coming up when grama
said it's a boy, and your mama's
gonna be all right.
Nothing seemed to bother mama, not the
falling down roof, not daddy being in
jail, not grama collecting food from
the church families, "no" mama had a
beautiful baby boy, the sparkle came back
in her eyes, and she was singing again
"oh" how I loved it when she sang, it
was like the sky opened up and an
angel had come down to visit us.
Mama's beautiful baby boy became the
apple of his sisters eyes, it was like
he made all the ugliness invisible
in their lives and mama would one day
have a strong son that she could rely
upon, but just before he turned one he
got pneumonia and was gone.
Life did go on but mama was never the
same, it was like all the color faded
away and mamas world was a dreary shade
of gray, she had two more babies and
worked her fingers to the bone, to keep
a roof over their heads and food in
Daddy died at the age of fifty seven,
from black lung and to much of all
the wrong things, I hope he repented
and made it through heavens gates.
Mama spent her last years with her
youngest daughter who would often hear
the story of her mamas beautiful baby
boy, I have no doubt that when she
closed her eyes for the last time at
the age of eighty six, that her beautiful
baby boy was placed in her arms just
inside the gates of heaven.