Grandma, at age 76, made the headlines as a CROP walker.

(Salisbury NC Post, October 1998)

She hasn't missed a Crop Walk in over 20 years, and walks to help raise money for world hunger.

To learn more about this remarkable woman, read this true story that appeared in the February 1999 issue of Baptists Today. The column was written by her daughter, Kathryn:

"Nothing we ever learned in Baptist Training Union prepared the four of us PKs (Preachers' Kids) for handling a midlife crisis - specifically, our mother's.

We should have seen it coming. Mama's father, our granddaddy, was a self-taught mountain music man. He wrote gospel songs, organized singing schools, and strummed tunes on his banjo and fiddle. He lamented that his daughter, whom he had sent over the mountain to Mars Hill College, had one cultural deficiency. She had never learned to fiddle.

When Granddaddy died, Mama inherited the fiddle. Lovingly, she put the instrument up, stating that the violin was her very favorite symphony instrument.

The next thing we knew, Mama had turned 40. She must have reckoned that life was passing her by, so she announced that she was fixing to take up the fiddle. Our mother went into her midlife crisis a normal Baptist preacher's wife, and came out of it a violinist. Sort of.

Taking a note from Granddaddy, Mama set herself to this task with a resolve peculiar to mountain folk. She dusted off Granddaddy's homemade instrument, and registered for violin class at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC.

As if there were any doubt concerning her resolve, she taped two (2) sayings inside her fiddle/violin case. The first said, "A bit of wisdom: What you can do or dream you can - begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." (Goethe) And the second, "Be dissatisfied enough to improve, but satisfied enough to be happy."

When it came to the violin, Mama was NEVER satisfied. She had visions of finishing the "Unfinished Symphony," but her beginning repertoire was limited to "Twinkle, Twinkle," "Baa Baa, Black Sheep," and "Three Blind Mice."

Unfortunately for our tender ears, Suzuki for tots had not been invented back in the good ole days. Mama had to start from scratch, literally. There were times I was sorely tempted to tape that great verse on pitch, I Corinthians 14:7, inside her fiddle case.

Undeterred, Mama converted the parsonage dining room into her practice room. Of course, we lived next door to the church cemetery. Some days, the sounds reverberating from our parsonage must have given the inhabitants second thoughts about purgatory.

I reckon we underestimated Mama. Indeed, her boldness did have magic in it! For after several years of fiddling, Mama was invited to play in the newly created Salisbury Symphony.

Although we were proud of her debut in the symphony, she had a major problem. Mama was tone deaf. So she had to depend on the goodness of others to tune her instrument. Which meant getting to symphony practice early. Mama was terrified of arriving late to symphony practice, because latecomers had to tune their instruments in front of the conductor, the first violinist, and their fellow musicians.

We had never thought we would live to see the day when a secular meeting would outrank Mama's circle meeting, but then came the Salisbury Symphony.

One uneventful afternoon, when we siblings were doing our homework and Daddy was recuperating from a heart attack, Mama grabbed her fiddle and flew through the parsonage in a race to get to symphony practice on time.

The next thing we knew, there was a huge explosion in the yard, and our mother ran back into the parsonage and hollered: "Ya'aaaall! The Buick's on fire! I'm taking the Chevrolet!" And we ran to the windows, just in time to see our Mama scratch off in the Chevrolet, taking the clothesline with her.

When the dust settled, we doused the fire, retrieved the clothespins, and resuscitated Daddy. We had lost a car, but Mama had saved face.

Thirty years later, I am thankful for the influence of a mother who has set the world on fire, literally, in pursuit of her dreams."

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