Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother-Daughter Stories of secrets, Reflections, Life lessons #1

On my facebook page last month I announced a story contest in honor of The Daughter's Walk my novel about an 1896 mother-daughter journey  walking from Spokane to New York City and the years after. The winners have been chosen!  Each of three will receive a special prize as well as a signed copy of my book.  Runners up were also chosen and their stories will be posted here during the first week in May. They'll receive a signed copy of The Daughter's Walk.  Thank you for participating and making this Mother-daughter Day a great story occasion!

Mountain Mama by Mary Anna Swinnerton
                Anna Montgomery, 23 years old, boarded the train in Reidsville, N.C., headed to Harrisonburg, VA for her first job working in a church. Met by the pastor, he immediately presented a whole new possibility, working with people on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. in a small development known as “Crab Bottom”. The pastor asked if Anna might be willing to go to and serve for a year, replacing a woman who had become ill. Anna said “Yes”.

Clouds breaking up after a rainy morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains

                Riding in a truck to the top of Hardscrabble Mountain, she was met by “Mister Ike” and his 3 sons on horseback (leading another horse). It was January, there was a cold wind, scattered snowflakes were beginning to fall and it was getting dark. In her heels and suit for railway travel, Anna was not dressed for an outdoor trip, but she was tough, and had grown up around horses in North Carolina. After loading her luggage on the horses, they went slowly down the mountain. Little did Anna know that this trip was just the beginning of a 5 year “adventure” caring for the people in the valleys and “hollows” around Crab Bottom (today known as Bluegrass). She would teach Sunday school, preach, play the piano, sew, teach 6 grades in one-room, and even conduct funeral services. Chamberlain Cottage, where she lived, provided a gathering place for the mountain folk. Years later, on Anna’s 100th birthday, one of the young girls from that area (then in her 90s) would reme! mber how Anna had taught her to play hymns on the piano and made her a blue dress.
                Anna later took each of her four daughters back to Crab Bottom, where they observed first-hand the difference she had made in the lives of so many. It was a special legacy she passed on, the knowledge that life is about giving to others. You never know how saying “Yes” to another possibility may enrich your life forever. We were blessed to have a “Mountain Mama”.
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