The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Queen For A Day

By Dora P. Maine © 1989

Issue: November, 1989

In 1940 Mama and Papa lived on a farm in Western North Carolina where they had reared eleven children. The children were scattered from Michigan to Florida and California. Only one daughter, Sarah, lived near. She worked in a town nearby, and came home often.

Mama had a busy life in the community. She taught in Sunday School, and was always present at the quilting parties. Besides tending the sick, she listened to many problems. She kept a large family fed, and still managed to keep a noisy brood in line. She scolded and advised, besides sweating with us through multiplication tables, long division and square root.

A serious heart ailment struck when she was sixty. The doctor warned that she could go at any time so Papa was very careful with her. He hired a girl to be with her all the time. She couldn't go anywhere - she couldn't do any sort of work.

Staring idly at the walls got tiresome to her, since she had never been non-productive; she explained it to Sarah - she wanted to go some place, if it was only for a day. A change of scenery was desperately needed. She knew that Papa would object, but she also knew that getting out of the house would be more helpful than medication. Sarah promised that the next Sunday she would be taken where she wanted to go.

The following Saturday Sarah arrived in her old Ford. She brought two girl friends. They made chocolate cake, potato salad and fried chicken - all the goodies for a Sunday picnic.

Papa was worrying himself sick. They left him as he kept warning that Mama wouldn't live through an exciting day. Mama put on her best dress and waited to get started.

They drove over all the roads that she mentioned. It all looked wonderful to her. When it was time to eat they found a beautiful park with tables under spreading tress. Mama ate and enjoyed food that had been forbidden by the doctor. After the food was put away, one of the girls brought her guitar from the car

They sang all the hymns that Mama asked for - "The Old Rugged Cross," "Precious Memories," "Kneel at the Cross," and many others. Soon a group of young people drew near and joined in the singing. She was so enthused and was enjoying every minute. They sat in a circle on the ground around Mama and sang just for her. When they had to leave they all shook her hand and hugged her. It made her feel that she was "Queen for a Day."

Papa was so relieved when they got home. He must have walked back and forth most of the day. Sarah left Monday morning, after she found that Mama had slept peacefully through the night. Papa said he had been wrong to object, and that it had been wonderful for her.

Mama lived two more years, and she never forgot that she had been "Queen for Day."