Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mission Impossible, Loving Letters

While down in Florida I suggested to Sherry that I cut her mama’s cedar chest up into boards and line a closet with them. That way the chest would be used. I pictured burning Susie’s name and dates into the wood to try to preserve her memory. She was never acclaimed in news papers, but she was head and shoulders above most.

 (A young Susie proably in the 1920s)
My mother in law, Susie Hawes Harris, had a tough youth. Born in 1904 down East in NC, small community called Nakina. Her dad left her mother and 7 children to fend for herself. They lived in a converted tobacco barn and worked on a farm. The mother moved her family to Belmont, NC  so she could work in the cotton mills. The kids also worked in the mills. Susie went to work at twelve years quitting school in the 6th grade. She worked in the cotton mills until just before she died at the age of 61. She married a very handsome man, Wiley Aaron Harris.
  They raised 7 children She would nurse them  on her breaks at the mill. She was a tough lady, very frugal. I could never praise this lady enough. She was the EXAMPLE of a Christian lady. I never heard her say a bad word about anyone.

 Gold treated mugs from England. The oldest dolls liying down, from 1957.
 Mug from Plains.GA.remember that town?

SO, today I pulled the old chest out, not remembering what was in it. It was full. Knickknacks from some of my cruise’s. The oldest from 1957. But it was the treasure at the bottom of the chest. It was labeled Susie’s purse and shoes.

Susie still means so much to me. She practically died in my arms as I tried to resuscitate her using CPR. I used to visit her grave to chat. This was an Iron Lady with a heart of gold.

Carefully I looked in the purse. Of course there was a small bible. Some tithing envelopes for her meager tithe, a small pocket knife, I smiled when I saw 3 or 4 hair nets. The neatest ‘convertible’ little pencil with a scripture verse on it. The point was not apparent, so pulling it apart, I saw a neat little pencil.

I could see a stack of letters. The oldest had a 2 cent stamp on it. Several ‘free’ indicating a soldier and a couple 6 and 8 cent airmail stamps. I pried, I carefully unfolded a couple letters and read what I could. Several from her soldier son, Vernon. I smiled when he told his mama, "I am in Japan (1948 I think), I have 7 months left then no more Army." Vernon retired a Green Beret, E-7 sergeant over 20 years later.

A letter from her prodigal son thanking her for sending him money. There were several Get-Well cards she had received earlier when she had a heart attack and survived.
I could go on, but I am here to say, Susie Hawes Harris raised a beautiful family. I married the baby girl. She had the same work ethic and loving heart of her mama. Imma lucky dude!

I may try again, to cut that cedar chest up, but for today, it was a Mission Impossible.

Nite Shipslog
 The cars below were new when Susie was born.
 Above is the 1904 Gardner Steam car
 This is trhe 1904 Sunbeam


betty said...

What a trip down memory lane to open up the chest and see what was in it. Sherry's mom sounded like a wonderful Godly woman; indeed I can see Sherry definitely following in her footsteps!


Lisa said...

Great story. Lots of sweet memories. Life was so simple back then but yet so hard. The women were tough and the children respected that.
She sounds like a really great woman.

Heading to Charlotte

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I think I'd be leaving that cedar chest just as it is packed full of memories. I know mine is fully packed and have many wonderful memories in it. I have letters and a quilt from my grandmother stored in there. While downsizing I found a lot of letters from family and friends and treasure them all. From our wedding, the birth of our children and the death of loved ones too. Treasures all.

shirl72 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shirl72 said...

Had to delete comment I can't type anymore out of practice. That was a beautiful story about Sherry's Mother. Sherry is like her mother sweet and caring. Brother you are lucky and I love you both.

Woody said...

NICE TRIBUTE !!!! Great Lady !

Mevely317 said...

To be honest, when I finished reading this last night my face was wet. What a visceral thrill to hold Susie's purse and the ordinary objects that meant so much to her! How lucky you were to know her!

My own mother's cedar chest, and the stories it holds, is priceless.

Jimmy said...

Very nice tribute, I know you enjoyed this walk down memory lane, thank you for walking us with you.

Paula said...

I always like to read about your love and respect for Sherry's Mom. Someday I'm going to look in my old cedar chest again. I know it has a pair of pajamas from Japan that Mel sent me when he was in the army. I don't know what else I may find. The cedar chest isn't in good condition and that gives me an idea because it still smells so good.