In rural Georgia there once lived a lady who lived a life that many would consider a life of obscurity, alone with her flower and vegetable garden. Her husband had gone to be with God many years ago; for her there was to be but one mate and she looked forward to the day of that reunion.
If you could sit for a while beneath the sprawling pecan tree where her two young boys climbed and played and had their battles of youth, she would tell you of an older son who had to leave home to meet the challenges to freedom that a world war brought. She might tell you of the day her daughter nearly gave birth to a child in her kitchen. For sure, you will not tarry long before you’ve been invited inside to taste the homemade bread and see the latest patchwork which is destined to be another quilt.
Content with meager possessions, her kitchen was clean and bright. A mat was always beside the door and you are quickly told why it is there. The house seems special, a certain enchantment inside the rooms, perhaps because the rooms are filled with mementos or a bowl of garden blooms. Perhaps because the doors are always open to welcome anyone who wants to come and sit ‘a spell.’ Perhaps because there is never a time or absence of cake or other homemade goodies. It is a house with a special warmth.
You definitely will not be there long until you realize you are in the presence of a woman with busy hands. Her hands were never still, so many varied chores had she. Oh, those hands if they could talk, they would also tell you of the many hours of chores, plucking the garden’s yield each day, scouring the floors, and sewing until late each night. No task to her seemed dull or hard, for each she did in her own loving way.
If your visit should require you to stay long, no doubt a visitor will appear wanting some homespun advice, advice that cannot be found in textbooks or in the ivory towers of academia- a child who has a cough, a flower that needs nurturing, a pair of drapes that don’t hang just right in the living room. With the care of a surgeon this loving lady will share from the depths of her very being. Pay? Don’t dare insult her. Pay is a smile knowing when she needs help, which is seldom, she can call upon you.
As you prepare to depart you probably will have to take something to remind you of your visit- homemade jam or canned goods from the garden. On your way out you will definitely notice her thimble lying on the counter, an old silver thimble worn thin with work, a thimble that has helped make four children and fourteen grandchildren quilts, spreads and dozens of other hand-works sewn by hand and given with love.
Her vision grew dim, her hearing not as acute as it once was. Her step, though lively had slowed. Each year she threatened not to have another garden, to sell the house and move to the city. The fast pace and modern day technology had little influence on her lifestyle. She lived close to God and the earth. Hardly a family in this rural area had not been touched by her caring ways, either in time of sorrow, suggestions, or “just call to see how you are doing.” To all the people in this rural country side she was known as Mrs. Coker. To her friends she was known as ‘Maggie” To me she was known as Mama.