My happiest hour


“Mother and I were very close,” confessed Dr. R. G. Lee. “We lived on a poor farm — so poor that you could hardly raise an umbrella on the place, much less a mortgage. One day the family was in town, except for Mother and me. She was sitting in a rocker on the old porch, knitting. I was lying on the floor, my face in my hands and my heels sticking up in the air. I looked at my Mother’s hands. They were hard and toil worn. I asked her, ‘Mother, tell me about the happiest hour in all your life.’ She told me, but not what I expected.

“I thought she might tell me about the day my Dad, a tall six-footer with dark eyes, spoke the love of his heart to her. But that’s not what she told me. I thought she might tell me about that night when the moon spread over the little old farm and how at the fence gate, he asked her to be his bride. But that’s not what she told me. I thought she might tell me about that hour in the little house on the corner of the farm where she and Dad stood to speak their wedding vows which they kept for 50 years, until his death. But that’s not what she told me either.

“Rather she said, ‘Son, you’ve asked a hard question. The war between the North and the South brought days of heartache and separation. Our salt came from the smokehouse floor, our tea from sassafras leaves and our coffee from grains of corn. The men were all away. My mother, your grandmother, worked alongside all the women.

“The news came that my father, your grandfather Bennett, had been killed in the war. That was the only information we had. Mother didn’t cry at first or much in the day, but at night I could hear her sobbing into her pillow.

“One day we were sitting on the porch of the old river house


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