Mary Frances lost her left arm at five years of age in an accident. Her older brother had committed the forbidden act of taking their father’s hunting gun down from above the door. While the rest of the family worked in the field outside, the small boy played with the trigger until the sound of the explosion caused everyone outside to freeze in horror, only able to imagine the worst. The bullet found its way to Mary’s elbow as she sat on the big feather bed looking at the family picture album. Living so far from the train station resulted in a day’s journey before finding a doctor. Sadly, by then, it was too late. The arm couldn’t be salvaged, and life as Mary had known it changed forever.
By this strange twist of events, however, Mary was the only one of her big family that received a college education. Since she was handicapped, her scholarship was fully paid. She majored in French and English, then went to Holmes Bible College in Greenville, S.C., and earned another degree in Theology. She never once complained about her mishap, but rather saw it as a tremendous blessing. She later married and bore five children; girl, boy, girl, boy, girl. I was number five. I grew up watching my mother tackling many projects that the average person would hesitate to attempt. Mama could do almost anything with her one arm that I could do with two. This included being able to tie shoe laces with one hand and cutting up a chicken. I would watch as she held a knife in her one hand and the chicken under her left nub that remained. Then she would manage to cut up the chicken, piece by piece. She had a device placed on her steering wheel so that she could turn the wheel with one hand. Nothing seemed to daunt her.
I dedicate this post to my mother today. She was an amazing woman and the loss of her arm was only the beginning of many sorrows for her. My father passed away unexpectedly when I was only seven, and she was left to raise her small children by herself. From managing to pay the bills, to keeping the creditors at bay, her fortitude in the face of difficulties was exemplary. One night, a man that lived down the road from us, crawled under our house. Lying right beneath her bedroom floor, he whispered “Mary” all night long until daybreak, then finally departed. At that point, my mother did what she vowed she would never do — she bought a gun. It had been a gun that had caused the loss of her arm, but her fear of “Shadow” was greater than her fear of another mishap taking place. “Shadow” was later arrested for trying to kill a woman and sent to the state penitentiary. We never heard anything about him afterwards.
My mother’s courage and perseverance left its mark on each member of our family. I think all of us subconsciously held this thought in the back of our minds: “Well, Mama would have overcome this, one way or another.” She resembled the Proverbs 31 lady who laughed at the future. Somehow Mama’s humor kept everything else in check and even though heart disease would slow her down considerably in her later years, she still maintained a strong will and independent spirit from having lived a harsh life.
There are so many other stories I could share about my mother. But what stands out most in my mind about her today is that she was so supportive of Prit and me when we told her we would be leaving for the mission field. She had shared with me once that she had seriously considered becoming a missionary herself. After my conversion in college, I came back home every weekend and listened as Mama shared great truths from the Scriptures with me. I was the fruit of her prayers and after agonizing countless nights in prayer for her wayward daughter, she was only too happy to open up the Word to me.
Mama went to be with the Lord twenty-seven years ago. I see her traits in each of our three children, even though they never had the opportunity to meet their grandmother. Two weeks shy of our returning to the States with our firstborn in 1985, Mama went on to Glory. I’m very thankful for her memory and believe her prayers are still availing for me and my family.
I would like to wish all the mothers that happen upon this post a “Happy Mother’s Day.” I hope these few words about my mother will bless and encourage you all today!