You only get one mother in this life

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 14, 2007

As she walks through the house she's lived in since 1948, she can tell you about every nook and cranny and every change that's ever been made over the years.

All throughout the house, the painted wooden door frames bear the scars of children on tricycles, of three little boys playing cowboys and Indians, and of a baby sister unsuccessfully trying to keep up with them.

Born in 1931, Emmie Lou Grayson came up through the Depression, and by the time she was 14, she was selling tickets in the ticket booth at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Greenville. She has often told me about talking with Hank Williams, Sr., when he came to play at the Ritz.

&#8220He was always so nice and polite,” she said.

However, she also remembers when he showed up one night to play, and he'd been drinking.

&#8220He got firedŠ.I just felt so sorry for him because he was such a nice young man.”

Things changed for this teenager from the Dan River Mill village when another young man in a U.S. Navy uniform came to the &#8220picture show” and bought a ticket from her.

It was my dad.

&#8220He was so handsome in his uniform,” she's always said.

&#8220I told my daddy that this one was special and that I really liked him and not to run him off.”

They married in 1948.

My grandmother, Mrs. Nettie Vee Grayson, took my mother to Montgomery to find a wedding dress. They finally settled on a baby blue dress that came below the knees and had a matching wide-brimmed hat and gloves.

For 52 years my parents shared the same house, the house that accumulated all of those nicks in the doorframes, that suffered baseballs crashing through the back den windows, and that saw all of those kittens and puppies born underneath it.

Long before ERA and women's rights, my mom worked as a weaver at Dan River Mills in Greenville and reared four children at the same time. After following the looms up and down a concrete floor for eight solid hours, she would come home and cook meats, vegetables and cornbread for us - every evening.

I have no idea how she did it.

She was the last female employee to walk out of the mill when it closed in October of 1982. She had been there for 30 years.

Within that same year, she buried a parent and a child.

And I still don't know how she did it.

There is a strength in the older generations that I find sadly lacking in mine.

I've seen her kneel by her bedside at night my entire life. When she became too weak to do that, I could hear her voice in the darkness as she prayed from her bed. She still does.

You only get one mother in this life.

&#8220Button up that coat and give me a ring as soon as you get home so I won't worry.”

Yes, ma'am.

&#8220I love you, darlin', and you take care of your sweet self.”

I will. I love you, too, Momma.

Regina Grayson is managing editor of The Luverne Journal. She can be reached at 335-3541 or by email: