Saturday, May 13, 2006


Today, I'd like to honor all those women who have made and continue to make an incredible impact in my life. The list would be long, for in some way, every woman I have known has expanded my understanding of myself as a woman / mother / daughter / sister / friend. So, I'll keep it short, well, sort of.....

I am especially fortunate that my paternal grandmother, Dulcie Ruth Michael Shook, who turned 104 in January, 2006, still lives in her small house back in the mountains in Pigeon Roost, NC. Grandma Shook had 10 children, nine of whom are still living. Although she drifts in and out of reality from time to time, on a clear mental day "Miss Ruth" can still tell a good story and remember days when she and her sister, Ada, used to climb trees and play tricks on the pigs. Moon pies and mayonnaise sandwiches rank right up there as her favorite snacks, and her advice on living a long, fruitful live is to "tell the truth, and don't trust doctors." She's been known to take her medicine out of her mouth when no one is looking and stash the pills and tablets underneath the cushion of her chair. When her youngest son was killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver, Grandma insisted upon going to the trial of the man who was responsible to let him know that despite her sorrow, she believed the higher thought was forgiveness. In her forgiveness, deeply rooted in "ole' time" mountain faith, she found her healing.

About three years ago, I went to visit her, and Grandma told me of a vision she had in which Jesus appeared to her. She said she woke up one night to a very bright light and was getting up to get her gun because she "knowed it was one of those no count Rupperts from down the road" trying to get in her house. When she sat up on the side of the bed, the entire room filled with the light, and as she looked toward her bedroom door, she saw Jesus standing there. I asked her what he looked like, and she replied, "Well, he looked like that picture that's a hangin' right over the sofa in the other room." Then she proceeded to tell me that Jesus told her that she would live longer than Ada and that he had other plans for her. (Aunt Ada died about three months later at the age of 98, I think) In fact, despite her insistence that she was ready to "go to the promised land," Jesus told her to get used to the idea that she would live to be 105. And indeed, Grandma is still with us today.

When I walk in through the front door of her house and see her across the room, sitting in her overstuffed chair like a little Buddha of the "holler," I feel totally safe, totally loved, totally embraced. If I could beam myself to any place in the world today on Mothers' Day, I'd be sitting on the old green stool at a corner place around her table, listening to her say grace, and settling in for a home-cooked mountain meal There'd be some good greens, and chicken and gravy, for sure. Uncles, aunts, and cousins would wander in and out of the house all afternoon, and Grandma would smile and love each one of them, whether or not she understood who they were.

I always tell Grandma Shook that she's the most beautiful woman in the world, and for me (along with my mom), she truly is. Often times I close my eyes and feel her hand in mine, and I feel strong and loved very deeply.

And then there's my mom, Petie, as her my children call her. Mom's life has been one of giving to others, and in doing so, she finds her satisfaction and greatest joys. Mom's the solid foundation of our family; she's a woman who has spent the last thirty years of her life patiently caring for my father through the progression of his Parkinson's Disease. Petie is loved by many, but her #1 fans are her grandchildren, for they adore her as much as she adores them.

The 7th of nine children, Mom, who's real name is Mary Macintosh Stevenson Shook, is also known as "Shook," "Nurse Shook," "Steve," and "Mary Mac." At a time when many women never considered a career, Mom decided to become a nurse, travelled away from home to attend nursing school, and subsequently, graduate school. She was the first person to give a shot of penicillin in the hospital where she worked, and she established the Student Health Service at Appalachian State University. As the only nurse on campus for many years, she attended to everything from homesickness to childbirth. Within the community, Mom was always the person called when folks got sick. Our kitchen served as her clinic, from which she dispersed her advice and gave allergy and B12 shots. She did private duty with many, many people while working full-time, simply because she was the person people trusted in times of great need. I can't begin to recall all the people for whom she cared in their final moments; it was as if Mom's presence with them during their final breaths allowed them to make their transition into the world of spirit without fear and peacefully.

My mom is beautiful. As she advances in years (she's now 87), her beauty increases. I love to look at the light reflect off of her snow white hair, and I love to hear her laugh when she gets really tickled. After we talk every afternoon as I am on my way home from work, I feel complete and safe. And on Mother's Day, today, the little girl in me would love to be with her mom. I love her so!

And then there are my girls, Bobbi and her daughter, Isabella, and Eliza Caroline. Bob's off in Philadelphia, so we connected by

phone a couple of times today. She's a great mom to sweet, bright, energetic Isabella. Bobbi didn't come through my body, but she certainly came through my heart. Bobbi is one of the strongest, most passionate, most beautiful, most loving women I know. There may be no other two on earth who enjoy life like we do when we're together (and apart, so far as that goes.) Forget anything traditional or conventional in our presence; we don't fit those molds! Our beloved Joe Davis says the energy on the planet takes a huge shift when the two of us are together!

Eliza Caroline and I spent the Mother's Day together. My baby's now 14!- - - she's my best buddy! For a mom and daughter, we get along more like best friends. We both have an "Inspecteur Clousseau" sense of humor and love to watch movies together all snuggled up in my bed. As I witness her transformation into a young woman, I watch her grace and beauty unfold, and my heart bubbles over with happiness and delight. She's bright, witty, kind, loving - - the farm's social butterfly. Watching her from across the table this evening, I could see the woman she'll become, and it was a incredibly amazing vision. The self-proclaimed beauty / princess / most intelligent person at the farm, Eliza delights in life and those of us who live with her delight with her along the way. How could I be so lucky!

Today I also think of Myra, Miss Hal, my aunts Joyce, Linda, Mildred, and Audrey, Nina Martin Baker, Peg, Aunt Lera, Aunt Lib, Betsy, Gladys Greene, Aunt Kate, Mami Alonso, Elena,Anita Eppley, Diane, Caroline, LoriBeth, Dana, Meera, Laida, MarĂ­a Luisa, Liana, Hermana Marta, Hermana Nora, Mary Ann, Deb, Gail, Charlotte, Sharon......

Happy Mothers' Day to all women - -to all mothers, to all daughters, to all sisters, to all girlfriends!

That pretty much covers it all...


James said...

Here's to living in the future. . . 2008! Oh, and to moms!

It's my experience that you are a wonderful mother figure to many of the young souls (and old ones) who've travelled through your land. So. . . Happy Mother's Day to you, dear one.


MaryAnn said...

What a beautiful and poetic commentary on the women in your life! I am so honored to share a portion of my life with you:)

Anonymous said...

Super color scheme, I like it! Good job. Go on.