Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
A Salute to
Women in this present age often wear many "hats"- career, community activist, wife, mother, grandmother. This time of year we set aside a day to salute mothers and give credit where due to the women who have made a difference in the role of child-nurturing.
I recall a time back in 1948
when I had
accompanied Rev. Claude Boynton and Mrs. Boynton on a speaking
represent the then new and struggling
"How does this relate to
Day?" you ask. No, it was not Mother's Day weekend, but as we
I learned later, by using the "Oxford Dictionary of Quotations," that Rev. Boynton's statement on "the hands that rock the cradle" was the only quotation of a little known writer named William Ross Wallace who died in 1881. He made that insightful two-line saying in "John o'London's Treasure Trove." I concluded that Rev. Boynton must have been well-read, indeed, to remember and quote the cradle/ruler adage, and to launch upon a lecture about it. Maybe already he was preparing for his Mother's Day sermon which would not be too many weeks in the future.
The scene of
I also engaged in some self-pity on the remainder of that trip, thinking that my own mother had to make her contribution to the lives of her four children early-on, because she had died on Valentine's Day in 1945. There were so many things I wanted to ask her, to learn from her before I myself was launched out on my particular journey into life. What were her dreams for me? Was I in any way fulfilling them?
Then I thought of many who had stepped in after her demise to be a surrogate mother to me. There were my mother's sisters, Avery and Ethel Collins, spinsters, with no children of their own. Yet they had the "mothering instinct" and spent much time with nieces and nephews, giving them advice, teaching them practical lessons on life and living. From them I learned much about cooking, sewing, ironing and house-keeping, tasks that fell to me in my own home when I was a lass of fourteen. Add another name to my surrogate mother list, Aunt Northa Dyer Collins. She lived in sight of me, and it was but a brief walk to her farmhouse from ours. She was my father's sister and her husband, Uncle Harve, was my mother's brother. From them I learned multiple lessons in living, one of the main ones of which was to have ambition and dreams and to work toward those dreams. I don't think "impossible" was in their vocabulary.
At high school I had experienced
of teachers who went the second mile and sometimes were in the role of
surrogate mothers. I can name several: Mrs. Grapelle Mock who taught
many other things, that I could do public speaking without letting
overtake me. Mrs. Elizabeth Elliott, Mrs. Flora Nicholson, and Mrs.
Berry taught me the beauty of words and the joy of putting them
readable, incisive poetry and prose. Mrs. Geneva Hughes, who taught and
librarian as well, planted in me a life-long love for good books. She
invited me to spend nights in her home on
And at college I had other
mothers. Mrs. Staton, English and journalism teacher, nurtured my
desire to be
a writer by making me editor of the college newspaper and co-editor of
college yearbook. She, too, invited me to her home and made me feel a
part of her life. Dr. Pearl Nix, psychology teacher, knew how to "pour
the work" to her students, but made us realize that there is no limit
our ability to learn except through our own limited desires to
Edith Sayer was our librarian and taught mathematics, too. She was an
that even with a mild handicap, one's life can be fulfilling and an
to others. Miss Charlotte Sheets lifted my level of appreciation for
as she led the college chorus to be good enough to be invited to sing
Georgia Baptist Convention and notable churches throughout
As I think back on William Ross Wallace's quotation, "The hand that rocks the cradle/Is the hand that rules the world," I am grateful I heard this when I was eighteen, and that it lingered with me throughout life. Rev. Boynton may not have realized that the quotation would sink itself into his young parishioner's memory. What we say does make a difference.
I am grateful for my mother's influence on my life, and for all of those who stepped in, relatives, teachers, others, to be strong surrogate mothers to me when I needed a helping hand and direction in life. One of the greatest honors that has come to me in this life is not my career as a teacher, but that I was entrusted to be a mother of two wonderful children, a grandmother to seven fine grandchildren, and now, just this April, the great-grandmother to Gavin and Brenna. "The hand(s) that rock the (cradle)s" of these two have heard my evaluation: "They are the most beautiful great grandchildren ever, and they have a significant role in the future!"
Happy Mother's Day! Enjoy your memories. Tell some mother she is special.
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 11, 2006 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
[Ethelene Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at e-mail email@example.com; phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA 31061-2411.]
Updated August 8, 2009