On this Mother’s Day, my mother would have
been 100 years old. The picture hanging above our fireplace was taken when she
was 16. She had long locks of hair, and there was an angelic expression in her
eyes. She probably dreamed of having lots of happiness.
I wonder now how I
might honor her, because, you see, my mother had a hard life, and
I believe she deserved a whole lot more than she ever got. Her
runaway teenage marriage to my father, who became a promising
young physician and surgeon, ended with his death at the age of
Lucile Barnes Crouch
Dick loaded up my two older sisters and me into a Model A Ford,
and we returned home to Kentucky. It must have been a long and
bitter ride from Cincinnati, down old U.S. 27 through Falmouth,
Cynthiana, and Paris to North Middletown. I don’t remember,
because I was 18 months old. I just expected to be fed and have my
diapers changed. If there wasn’t a little something on my
birthday, that would be all right, because we didn’t have any
money, and I was just as happy with nothing at all.
When I was 4 years old,
my mother remarried. We moved out to a farm, and by the time I was
10 I had learned about hitching up a team of horses and going out
to bring in a load of corn. I saved pennies and rolled them tight.
I went to school and behaved myself. I valued my teachers and
My mother’s second
marriage lasted 10 years and ended in divorce. It’s not my
business to know the reasons.
Now, Lucile and her
husbands sleep in the North Middletown Cemetery, where one day
I’ll join them. While I used to dread that thought, I look at it
differently at age 72-more positively, I mean to say.
What has happened?
One year ago, I was
named chairman of the board of the North Middletown Cemetery.
There are five members of the board, and we do everything we can
to show our respect for our mothers and fathers who’ve gone before
When graves are dug,
one of us is there to try to be sure it’s done properly. We set
out the chairs beneath the tent and wait for the arrival of the
hearse and the funeral party. When Amazing Grace is sung, we sing
too. When there’s a prayer, we close our eyes and bow our heads.
When the service is ended, we wait our turn to go to the young man
who has lost his mother, and we say, "I’m sorry."
After the family has
left, we help move the casket to the grave, and we are present for
the interment. We carry the flowers and place them on the
fresh-turned earth. We fold up the chairs and return them to
I know this sounds sad,
maybe something you’d just as soon not read about. But I believe
you can judge a community by how it cares for its cemetery,
especially a small place by the side of the road, or up on a hill
in a forgotten country graveyard.
At the same time, this
brings me to another thought. I believe you can pretty much take
stock of a person’s quality by how he or she respects Mother while
she’s living. Maybe she’s weary with worrying about you. She might
be more contrary than ever before. But even if she’s forever
nagging, it probably doesn’t hold a candle to how demanding you
were when you depended on her for your very life.
She may be around the
corner or just over the county line, or she may be struggling for
breath in a nursing home. Wherever she is, she deserves some
flowers on this Mother’s Day, and maybe a prayer or two would be