We grew up in the hollow of a small rural town with one store, one post office, one bank and one signal light. We had 13 in our family but those were the days when it didn’t cost much to feed a large family and most people grew food in the garden and kept chickens. We also butchered hogs each year. My mother did housekeeping for rich families in the area. My father drove a brick-and block truck to help pay our schooling, clothes and recreation supplies.
My mother and father were loving parents and there wasn’t anything that they wouldn’t do for someone in need. They instilled going to church on Sundays and we all had to be on our best behavior because how we acted reflected on them. Surely we didn’t want our privileges taken away for acting up in church or even in the neighborhood. They believed in discipline. I got whipping and that was enough for me. They would only whip your bottom but the pain lasted a couple days.
They believed in God and they love each one of us in his preciousness. My mother would sing the gospel music as she cooked in the kitchen and when she was cleaning the house. It made me feel loved each and every day. My father was quiet most of the time until he had to call us out for being too loud, or if the boys were in an argument over toys or girls, or if the girls squabbled over clothes and boyfriends.
We always had fish and fried potatoes on Friday. The rest of the family would always come by to pay their respects. All of my mother’s brothers and sisters would come by bring her things and she would give them food from our garden and clothes that had been outgrown. My father’s brother would come to help him build additional rooms on the house, help with the garden or to work on the cars.
Our parents would give all of us a little spending money to go to the store but we would have to be doing well in school. They rewarded us with money or something that we wanted if we had done a good thing. We didn’t always get rewarded because we weren’t always on our best behavior and we knew it when we weren’t. Mother tried to speak on our behalf but father would stand his ground. He really loved us and we knew he loved us all because he treated us all the same way. Mother was a little different than father, she would allow us more leeway.
My oldest brother died and it really tore my mother up. She would cry a lot and she would no longer sing, but father stood strong for her. We all came together for her but she had lost her firstborn and that was more than she could bear.
After a short illness, father was taken home to be with God and Mother was left without him. She fell deeper into depression and started to sit by herself on the porch in her favorite rocking chair. It took God to bring her out of the deep depression. Her faith in God jump started her life again. She got up one morning and started cleaning the house and singing her gospel songs.
She got us through those tough times and we all went on to do good thing with our lives. We owe it all to the wonderful parents who gave us rules and a good moral code that remains with each of us to this day. So, I thank God and my mother and father for believing in us. God bless all good parents in America and around the world.
By Charles L. Carey
VA Medical Center- Martinsburg, WV
Typist: Joanna Rench