The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Ma Sallie

By Bobbie Bowman Clement © 1992

Issue: May, 1992

I first met Ma Sallie when I was fifteen. She was in her rocking chair by the radio, her dark hair neatly braided, and apron tied around her waist. I was so nervous as it was the first time to meet my future family. After a few minutes of talking, she made me feel at ease. You would never have guessed she was almost blind. She looked at you with bright shining blue eyes as she talked.

My first thought was, "What does she do not being able to see?" I was to learn so much from this dear lady.

Her son and I were married a year later. I loved to spend Sunday evenings on the front porch laughing and talking. She loved for me to make her aprons, dresses and quilts. I crocheted doilies and pillow case and scarf edging - things she could not do. She taught me patience, how to cook country style and to make jelly from fresh picked berries, grapes and plums.

She laughed and laughed when I tried to copy her making a twist of tobacco. It looked so funny left handed. She never complained but told me of the train ride and surgery in Richmond, Virginia. She often said, "Why did God give me eight children'?" In later years when in poor health, she would say, "So they could wait on me." I told her it was for all of us to love her.

When I had her first granddaughter, she was so happy. I thought the "old ways" of child care were funny and she thought I was too young, but we both had a great time learning. One of my favorite pictures is the cake she baked for my son's first birthday. I never could understand how she could cut up a chicken, cook and bake on a wood stove, when I couldn't remember to put wood in at the right time.

I loved to hear her talk about riding the horses, riding in a wagon and buggy, grazing the cow and picking berries and chestnuts, walnuts on the mountainside. Then Papa slipping gum to her at school. The time he was taking her and a girl friend to church and got the car stuck fording the river. Had to get horses to pull the car out. After he carried the girls out, he was too wet to go in church.

Over the years we spent many happy hours together. She wanted me to make her a navy blue dress for the Golden Wedding party we were planning. (I would have loved to give her a beautiful ball gown and diamonds to wear.) She looked like a queen in her blue dress and we had a good celebration.

While sitting by her hospital bed, I learned to knit. She could "feel" how much I did day by day. She was such a lovely lady. I'm thankful to be her "daughter"-in-law.