This book is the story of a woman who had everything going for her until she had a diagnosis of cancer. Her loving husband was beside her all year during the surgery and all chemo-therapy treatments. Then the day she was told that she didn’t have to have anymore chemo treatments, she lost her loving husband the next night. This story is about the strength this woman finds after the whole world crashes around her. From the dark, disturbing days of pain and heartbreak she discovers her rainbow.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)|
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My name is Sylvia Austin Witmore. I am a wife, a mother and a grandmother with plenty of loving family and friends around me. The most powerful force in life is love and I have had it in abundance with my wonderful family and remarkable husband.
I am a member of the First Baptist Church in Laurinburg, N.C. where my husband served as deacon for two years. After going off the deacon board for a year, he was re-elected as deacon; he also taught Sunday school off and on through the years. I also served on the Church board as treasurer for two years. Both of us really enjoyed working for the Church and on the Stewardship Committee.
My life was complete; I strongly believed I had enough love in my heart to face anything, even the struggles and hardships that everyone of us have to face during our lifetime, no matter how difficult they might turn out to be; or so I thought! But life has a way of rearing up to bite you when you least expect it.
I have always been an avid reader and I've always wanted to write romantic suspense novels. Through the years, I've written about a dozen books which I tried for years to have published. I received enough rejection slips to paper my bedroom walls, but I was determined to never give up.
However, this is my very first attempt to write a true story; everything else I've done in the past was pure fiction which was contrived from only my imagination.
In the past, I was able to write the first draft of my books within six to eight weeks. However, this one has taken me years to finish the first draft. Writing about what really happened to me during the year 2009 was a much more difficult task than I could have realized. I guess it is because I had absolutely no control over the outcome! When you deal in fiction you can control everything.
2009 started off wrong for my family with the election of another Democrat in the White House; the year just seemed to go down hill from there.
We firmly believed that our money went further and our taxes were always less when a Republican or at least a conservative was elected to the White House. But I never dreamed that the election itself would pale in insignificance with the other momentous events that happened in my life during the year 2009.
Up until that year I had experienced a relatively easy, happy and uneventful life. I was the oldest of six children. We were all raised in North Carolina in a sleepy little community with the Seaboard railroad being the largest employer in Richmond County for years. Over two hundred trains used to pass through Hamlet each day heading north and south as well as east and west. I used to imagine the far away places those trains would finally end up with their passengers and I would make up stories of the kind of life those passengers might have lived. Of course I never knew any of them at all, but I had a very vivid imagination and it was fun to dream about their successes in life, if they had fallen in love, and how many children they would bring into the world or what career they chose. In Hamlet just about every high school graduate tried to obtain a job with the railroad except for the ones who chose military service or college.
My father was a trainman and did a lot of traveling leaving mother with the responsibility of raising six children almost alone, so naturally she was unable to work out of the home. Mother was an accomplished seamstress and did a lot of sewing for us and other customers as well; she also sold Luzier cosmetics, Sarah Coventry jewelry and was a member of the Avon President's Club for years.
We had a wonderful life while we were growing up.
We had two very loving, generous parents, a set of grandparents living in Chesterfield, S.C. and lots of cousins.
Papa Hendricks and Grandma were my mother's parents and they lived south of town on the highway down toward Patrick. They had a big farm and a couple of small fishing ponds at the back of their property which was completely surrounded by acres of farm land.
Grandma came from a hard-working farming family there in South Carolina although originally her family could be traced back to the Smith family related to John Smith who married Pocahontas.
When Grandma and her twin sister, Mary, were five years old, their mother died in childbirth along with the baby. That left Grandma and her sister, Mary, tending house and cooking for the men in the family who had to work out in the fields all day. They had to stand on chairs to cook the food which was served three times a day but since there was no one else available, they were responsible for the meals to feed the hardworking men toiling in the fields. In spite of such adversities at the tender young age of five, they managed to grow up into strong, determined young women, who then married and had families of their own.
Our mother was a strong and determined woman and I guess I have inherited some of those traits from my grandma as well as Mother.
Our Papa Hendricks was a tall, robust, commanding man with a deep, booming voice. He was tall, brown haired with blue-eyes and with his bluster and outgoing personality he reminded all of us of the actor, Walter Brennan. His family was of European descent, mostly from England and Scotland. Aunt Margaret has since traced the family all the way back to the War Between the States where one of our ancestors was captured by the Union Army and had to sign allegiance to the North before he was released from prison. After that he was allowed to return to his family in South Carolina.
Grandma was short and little, hardly weighing more than 90 lbs. soaking wet. Her voice was sweet and very soft but she was as feisty and fiery as a bantam rooster; she ruled her family members with a loving, iron hand; you did not argue with Grandma!
At one time Papa Hendricks ran a small store down close to the highway; all of us kids loved going there because there was always candy on the counter which he would cautiously hand down to us. He also passed out some type of chocolate drink in a bottle similar to today's Yahoo. I don't think I've ever seen that particular chocolate drink sold in any other stores. Of course, you can obtain chocolate milk but this wasn't milk; it was chocolate flavored soft drink; we'd take our candy and our drinks along with those wonderful Moon Pies before we'd run outside to play. There was always plenty of outdoor space for children to explore. It was always a special treat for all of us to visit our grandparents.
Grandma carefully tended a vegetable garden so she'd always have fresh vegetables to serve with whatever meat they were lucky enough to have on hand at the time. They slaughtered their own hogs and hung the hams up in the smokehouse so there was always country ham to go with the daily hot biscuits she cooked.
Papa also grew corn, sweet potatoes and field peas on the farm so it was left up to our grandma to prepare the vegetables and keep tomatoes, okra and cucumbers in the garden growing there nearest the house. He also grew fields of cotton through the years.
One year the Seaboard railroad trainmen went on strike in September so we were all taken out of school and the whole family went to Chesterfield to pick cotton to earn money until the railroad strike was finally settled.
I can tell you from hands-on experience that picking cotton is one of the hardest jobs anyone will ever do; it is constant, bending over, backbreaking work. I could never do that all day. Picking cotton ruins yours hands, your nails and the constant bending over to release the white cotton balls from their hulls is hard enough but then dragging that cotton bag around with you up and down those long rows played havoc with your back. Unless you wore a bonnet, your face would be sunburned. Another horrible thing was the big mosquitoes that attacked every surface of your body not covered by denim.
As small as our grandmother was, she could out-pick anyone else in that cotton field. Her bags would be loaded with cotton by the time she reached the end of her row; mine always only had about a fourth of that amount, and she'd come down the next row behind me heading for the end with another bag almost full, then she'd tease me about speeding up.
I really hated those hours out in that cotton field. I would much rather have been sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch reading a good book. Grandma would lift my bag, telling me with a smile that I wasn't picking fast enough. One day I even picked up several heavy rocks and put them in the bottom of my bag so it would weigh more on the scales.
That didn't work either. Grandma found out and made me sit right down and pick every little rock and stone out of my bag before I could leave the cotton field to go to the house for supper. You can bet I didn't try that again!
One afternoon my brother Glenn was very sure that his cotton bag weighed at least one hundred pounds and he was so proud of that. You always got a whole dollar bill if it weighed that much but Granddaddy jerked Glenn's bag off the scales before the hands quit moving around then told him that he only had ninety-nine pounds so he counted out ninety-nine cents to give him. Glenn was so discouraged he never wanted to pick cotton again.
During the long summer days when we were visiting, some of our cousins were there and we always had a wonderful time playing outside together for hours.
I can't tell you about the farm and those wonderful times we had while we were there without describing the food our grandma always prepared; she'd actually cook for days when she knew that she was going to have company. Grandma was very religious but she knew that good food was an important staple in a working man's day to day life so she always set a huge table.
Grandma didn't have just one meat and a couple of vegetables and desert each meal; oh no! On Sundays there was usually fried chicken, ham, country-fried steak with gravy or either a roast with gravy. There was always both potatoes and rice cooked along with every kind of vegetable you could imagine: corn, peas, butterbeans, string beans and okra. They always had both cornbread and hot biscuits with Grandma's molasses and butter smothered on the hot bread every meal. They also owned a cow so the butter, sweet milk and buttermilk were always fresh.
There were always two cakes and at least two or more pies in the pie safe in the dining room at all times; her homemade coconut and pineapple cakes were unbelievably good. Grandma never fussed when a child wanted more than one dessert; she said we'd just work it off playing hard whenever we went back outside.
However, Grandma didn't tolerate any misbehavior at all; she kept a small switch in her kitchen at all times and she wasn't afraid to use it on our bare legs ... if the switch ever disappeared, she would send us outside to pick our own switch. If it was too small, we'd have to go back outside and get another one; sometimes that action usually warranted a second swipe with the switch.
I loved the way my grandma said our Daddy's name ... 'Glenn' as if he was so special to her. I remember one night when Papa came to the table after a couple of drinks out in the barn, we were eating field peas. Daddy kept cutting up pieces of hot pepper to slip over on Papa's plate. The longer he sat there eating peas, the redder his face became. I don't think he ever realized what Daddy was doing because he didn't get mad or say anything but our dad was grinning the whole time he was eating that night.
Our cousins, Joyce, Margaret-Ann and Albert, Jr. as well as my brother, Jerry Lynn and I got in trouble with Papa one hot summer afternoon. We slipped outside to the barn, found the bottle of whiskey he kept stashed in the hay loft and poured it out.
We knew that grandma didn't allow drinking liquor in her house; she thought if you drank spirits that the devil would control your soul; she told Papa that lips that touched a whiskey bottle never touched hers, but she did keep a bottle of some type of brown whiskey in her medicine cabinet up high in her bedroom just for medicinal purposes. If we ever complained of a sore throat or heaven-help-us if we had a bad cold, we were dosed with a tablespoon of whiskey which she mixed with honey, vinegar and lemon; then we were sent off to bed. It tasted awful; we had to hold our noses to get it down but nine times out of ten, the next morning we no longer had a sore throat and our colds were almost gone as well.
But that particular afternoon, the five of us were real rascals; we poured out Papa's whiskey then filled the brown bottle back up with that dirty old soapy water from the kitchen sink then slipped it back up in the hayloft where he had it hidden.
We were all out in the side yard playing ball when he went out to the barn that day. A few minutes later, he came rushing out of the barn mad as a hornet. He screamed all our names and we all scattered, running off in five different directions ... but he eventually caught up with every one of us. When he did, he had a switch from a bush near the back door. That slim little limber switch could really sting; it always burned our legs something fierce. I didn't ever bother his whiskey bottle again; neither did any of the others. We never told our grandma what he was doing out there in the barn either; sometimes it is just better just to leave well-enough alone. She probably knew it so that's why she always kept her medicinal bottle of spirits well hidden.
I guess during those visits with our grandmother, folks could have called us "druggies". Grandma drug us to her Church, she drug us to all the revivals every time the doors were open; she drug us to funerals making us sit still and be quiet. Also you had to be reverent all day on Sunday. It didn't matter if you felt bad or didn't want to go, if a service was being held close by somewhere, we had to go. You couldn't cut out paper dolls or go to the movies on Sunday either. That was the Lord's day, a day for rest and not for any frivolous activities.
The entire family loved going to the farm out on that road from Chesterfield. We loved visiting with our aunts, uncles and numerous cousins. The cousins were all close to the same age. Believe me, there were always a lot of cousins to play with us.
Grandma's actions had a profound effect on my mother because she was the oldest girl in the family, which in turn, as Mother's oldest child, had a profound effect on me! But the unconditional love from those two women always outweighed the stern rules that all of the children had to follow.
There were a lot of beautiful antiques in our grandparents' farm house in South Carolina. One china cabinet was the most unusual one I have ever seen. It was completely surrounded by round glass panels which sat up high on a slim pedestal underneath. The top part could be rotated all the way around so even the dishes stored in the very back could be easily pulled out when necessary.
There was a beautiful mirrored highboy on the right just as you entered the front door with hooks on each side to hang coats or hats. The seat would lift up for storage underneath and it was fun to sit there and read the old Farmer's Almanac that Grandma stored there.
All the beds in the bedrooms had high headboards and footboards. Those beds were called sleigh beds and had several mattresses filled with soft, downy fabric; you would sink into the middle when you climbed up on it. Several of us girl cousins would sleep in one of those big beds and we'd giggle together until Grandma told us to "hush" and go to sleep.
The Austins were our dad's parents who were all from Union County near Monroe in a little community called Midland or Unionville. They both died before any of us were ever born but Daddy had plenty of brothers and two sisters left; they all had young children as well so we were able to visit them sometimes but never as often as the other grandparents.
Daddy was a double Austin. His mother was Elizabeth Austin until she married John A. Austin but their families were not related unless it was way back during the War Between the States.
I remember Mother telling me that she first learned to drive when I was a baby. We were living out on the farm but Mother had never used the reverse gear in the car. Well, Mother and Grandma left the farm to drive to town one day during the middle of November. Recent rain storms had caused the creek to overflow its banks, so the bridge was completely buried underwater.
Grandma started yelling at Mother that she had to back up; they couldn't go forward due to all of that water on the bridge. Mother told her, she didn't know how to back up. Well, Grandma told her that she better learn real quick because she didn't feel like swimming in that cold creek water.
Excerpted from "2009 a Year of Pain and the Promise of Rainbows"
Copyright © 2017 Sylvia A. Witmore.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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