By Arlene Yeatts Banks (1928-1981) © 1984
Issue: September, 1984
Editor’s Note… This story was submitted to us by Arlene Banks’ sister, Lorraine Sheets, who also added, "Mama died in 1959 when Gin Dare went to Ohio to work on her masters degree."
Spring came early to the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia. The hills, trees, and bottom land were covered in a cloak of green velvet. The dogwood, honeysuckle, and purple violets added their touch of glory to the season. To Mama, it seemed a promise of a wonderful year.
She walked slowly down the path to the mailbox, carrying a letter. Arthritis had made her knees weak, so she walked with a crutch. Her hands were drawn out of shape, but she did things one would have thought impossible. Of course it took effort and determination, but the aura of happiness and good cheer she generated, was apparent to those around her.
She dropped the letter in the mailbox and in that letter was the realization of a dream about to come true. The letter contained tuition fee for the spring quarter of college for Gin Dare, her last one. Gin Dare was the oldest of the four "little girls". Mama thought if she could manage to get one through college, that one could help the others. One could sense an unexplainable feeling of urgency and importance in the graduation. Mama was proud of all her children and she was always using the old saying, "Every crow thinks her crow is the blackest."
One morning while getting breakfast Mama said, "I dreamed I crossed the Ohio River without my crutch. I believe that dream means I am going to get better." We did notice an improvement. She worked in the garden some, and went to visit her nearby neighbor.
The long awaited day finally came, the day of Gin Dare's graduation. It was going to be a hot day, and Mama got ready. She put on the best dress she had, and her broad brimmed white hat. She looked quite nice, but the real beauty was the look of happiness in those sparkling blue eyes.
My oldest brother came to drive her to the city of the college. It was the college she attended some thirty years before. She knew it would be changed, but she could not imagine how much. She gazed at the new dormitories, the new science building, and library. Then she saw what she had been looking to see. It was the old dorm in which she had lived. It was covered with green ivy, and looked so much older than all the others.
They made their way to the administration building, it was there years ago too, just as she remembered, blue dome on top and red brick. Yes it was all different now, all but her happy heart. (And none of us knew how weak it beat.) Inside, they found a seat and waited for the exercises to start. As Gin Dare received her diploma, the man said "with honors" and Mama's eyes filled with tears. Gin Dare had gotten a scholarship to continue her studies at the University of Ohio.
The rest of the day was filled with a dinner and visit at Aunt Fannie's house. It was a jolly visit as they told jokes, and fond remembrances of their growing up. All too soon it was milking time and that meant time to go home. The departure was delayed, as each kept remembering some thing to tell the other. But at last the day was over, Mama's dream had been realized, but another dream was to be recalled.
The fall season came in as much beauty as the spring. It was time for Gin Dare to go to Ohio and begin her studies. As Gin Dare crossed the Ohio River, Mama "crossed Jordan," as one dream mingled with another.