August 2011
4-H Extension Corner

I Did It Again Today

I did it again today.

You’d think four-and-a-half years would be more than enough time to "break a habit."

But evidently not.

It was just one of those everyday-type conversations.

As I sat waiting for my husband to endure a medical test at the local hospital, a man mentioned the lack of rain.

As we talked on, he learned where we lived and I discovered he is the nephew of the late-long-time owners of the farm next to ours. He was delighted as I filled him in on the farm’s current owners.

And that’s when I did it again.

 

Inez Inmon Lowry Wine at the age of 16 at the Alabama State Fair in Birmingham.

I thought how happy Mama would be to know I’d meet her beloved "Miss Ora’s" nephew.

But I can’t tell her — because Mama died in April 2007.

Every now and then I’ll see a movie coming on the Hallmark TV Channel or a show on the Home and Garden Network featuring something she’d like and I’ll reach for the phone to call her — and then stop myself. There’s been so many other times I think of something I need to tell her.

But I’ve decided it’s not because I’m losing my sanity. It’s because my Mama is still so much a part of each and every aspect of my life.

Although this treasured farm is a part of my history from my Daddy’s side of the family, my Mama’s footprint remains in this hard-scrabble soil.

One of seven children of a sharecropper-coal miner-big hearted-jack-of-all-trades-lover of gospel music, she finally put pen to paper a few years ago at my insistence and wrote a brief history of her life.

Many of those brief stories show how the events of her world in Alabama in the 1920s and 30s shaped her.

Her family moved often, sometimes at least once a year! And while they were based in Blount County and the edge of Etowah County around the Altoona and Walnut Grove communities, at a couple of points they also lived in Jefferson County when work carried Grandpa there.

One of her early childhood memories, when she was about four, shaped a lot of her thinking.

She wrote, "About that time we were going to Olive Branch Church (Birmingham) and it was revival time.

"Some rowdy boys were creating some kind of trouble on the church grounds. The KKK started attending the night services — in their robes.

"I remember coming out the side door of the church and a Klansman picked me up and sat me out the door. I thought my life was OVER. It scared me to death!"

She talked about how my Grandpa, Jim Inmon, never had much formal education.

But Grandpa eventually held several foremen and boss’s jobs, keeping the books and even elaborate computations "in his head" until Granny would help him write them down each night! Granny taught him to read, but he was far from ignorant!

Mama wrote of meeting my daddy, her "soul mate," when she was just 16. Those writings really help me to understand why she thought about so many things the way she did.

Coming from her original humble background, she couldn’t understand my love for homesteading and the simple life.

Why bother to go to the trouble of making soap when you can easily buy it cheaply in the store, she often asked me.

And why in the world did I want to be tied down to this farm tending all these animals? But she helped finance my first two goats and reveled in Rhodie-Pearl, the free-range hen who laid a big, fresh, brown egg behind the shrubbery by her back door every morning.

She told me once after I’d been a newspaper reporter for several years, how shocked she’d been when she learned I, one of the shyest people in the world, had taken a job as a newspaper reporter and how she was awed at how that shyness disappeared when I held that notepad and camera in my hands no matter if I was interviewing a local farmer, the governor or one of country music’s most famous stars.

Mama didn’t really have a "career" herself, although she has great leadership skills which she used at the church where she belonged for more than 50 years and on the county and state levels in offices she held with the Home Demonstration Clubs of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

The author and her Mama in the 1950s.

 

But, as I look back now, I guess her biggest "career" was loving my daddy — and loving me.

We clashed big time during my teenage years because I guess I always walked a slightly different path.

But, back around this time last summer, I had a dream.

I was moving my little farm store from the tiny room off my carport, where I sold my jellies, soaps and eggs, to the little "barn" on the opposite end of our house. And in my dream Mama was helping me move my "inventory" into the old-new store.

I woke the next morning and started planning to remodel that little building. And I moved my tiny store into it before last Thanksgiving, with even the small tin-roofed porch, built for me by my adult kids here, looking JUST LIKE IT DID in my dream.

So while I can’t sit on the little porch with Mama, she’s there just the same.

Each seam I sew, each jar of jelly I mix, every sun-ripened cherry tomato I pop into my mouth straight from the garden here is a direct link to her and what she taught me.

Not particularly skills I need. She didn’t understand everything about me wanting a simpler life. But she gave me something far greater — she believed in me.

So when I catch myself "doing it again," when I actually punch in her phone number or mentally remind myself to tell her something, I just stop and smile.

Because she’ll always be here, with me, as a part of me.

Suzy Lowry Geno is a freelance writer from Blount County. She can be reached through her website at www.suzysfarm.com.