By Terasha Ann King
Sitting in an easy chair, watching an episode of “The Waltons,” entitled “Romance,” while being quarantined in my home from the Coronavirus—my mind began to wonder.
In this episode, the mother, Olivia Walton explores her interest in art. The opening scene has her seated on a log, painting Walton’s mountain, when her oldest child, John-Boy, startles her from behind. She responds embarrassingly, as he takes her painting from her – looking at it without permission. A conversation ensues about her interest in art, and John-Boy assures her that it’s not too late to pursue it. Finally, he convinces her to enroll in a night class at the high school.
Terasha Ann King and Mom (left photo). (Courtesy Photos)
After being persuaded to join the class, one more obstacle revealed itself to his mother– transportation. At that moment, John-Boy’s answer was a quick-start driving lesson, that garnered Mrs. Walton a license to drive. It reminded me of my mother—Mrs. Jeanette Bailey King, who also had an interest in art, and science. She too, learned to drive late in life (at age 40). She excelled at obtaining her GED (at age 52), while managing a large family. So, in my mind, it begs the question, “What Our Mothers Might Have Been?”
Mama was a child of the twenties and thirties… when roles for most females were defined and declared before they left the womb. The script went something like this–wife, mother, grandmother, and off to the great beyond, without so much as a thought about their gifts, talents, desires, passions or purpose.
Even with society’s formula for the “female future” in full force, the lady I called mama, found a way to beautifully enrich the role that was designed for her from a patriarchal mindset. She traversed that one-sided thinking, by using every gift God gave her to be the greatest mom in the universe—to me. Her legacy in that role didn’t end with her children; it moved forward to her grandchildren, where even today, at least four of them think of her as “mom.” They remember her maternal love, wisdom, grace, humor, inspiration and a mild temperament that was priceless!
Though she never graced a college classroom with her presence, her love of art was exemplified through the fiber arts of crocheting, embroidery, sewing and quilting. She elevated her meal preparation and presentation to an art form as she excitedly experimented with new recipes while cooking and baking. Her love of color and form were evident in how she fashioned her interior spaces, and designed her flower gardens.
My mother’s knowledge of science was obvious by her passion for planting, harvesting and preserving food. She was truly a pioneer of the farm-to-table concept. Mama shared stories with me about how her father and grandfather cured meat that would put today’s processing plants to shame. Afterall, they were preparing it for the family they loved, and not manufacturing counterfeits for the general population. She remembered with joy, along with a twinkle in her eyes, the many tasks on the farm. Looking back now, it appears they were really thriving! They lived the country life then, which many people today hope to retire to, after working for forty years or more.
You won’t find any of her art in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; she never won a Nobel Prize for an invention in the Smithsonian Museum. But, her remarkable mind and memory, heart and touch, and faith in God, painted indelible portraits on the hearts and souls of her family, friends, and community. Her art is a living work in our spirits, which we access whenever we need a boost!
Mama’s penchant for art, coupled with her knowledge of science, history and business, make her an exceptionally phenomenal, noteworthy lady, during this May 2020 rendition of Mothers’ Day.
Mom, I love you, honor you, and thank you for giving up what you might have been, to be the very best at who you became… for me.
Terasha Ann King
“Rada” to you Mom