I had a very strict English and Advanced Speech teacher, my Mom. She had a way of peering over her glasses at you that could make you stop, dead in your tracks. I had to try harder, because if there were only one point between getting an A or B, she would give me the B. She was likeable, but strict when it came to the business of teaching. Smart mouths and hoods she handled with ease. This didn't faze my Mom.
My earliest recollections were of her and me playing in the compound of our home in Bo, Sierra Leone, West Africa. She was an avid animal lover, so she always welcomed any stray that came in our yard. She would cut up fruit for Jocko, our monkey and bring it out to me, to give him a treat. Then she would cover me with kisses, and go back to her work. Pets okayed by Mom were a chameleon, a white owl, that we fed raw meat, many monkeys and a baby crocodile. This didn't faze my Mom.
At times when Dad was gone, Mom would go into the village and preach. She didn't need an interpreter, because she had spent months learning the area's language, which was Mende'. She spoke Mende' better than my Dad, and the village folks loved her and were so thrilled to talk with her. Often as she preached, a witch doctor was in a doorway, off to the side, chanting away and sending wicked spells her way. This didn't faze my Mom.
We were brought a large monkey once, and he seemed a bit aggressive, but the natives said he was a pet, as told to us through translators. I was too young to really remember his temperament, but I did throw food in his huge cage. As the story went Blake, we named him, got loose. He tore down to the open market place and started stuffing his mouth with bananas, oranges, plantain and other goodies. He was jumping all over the 'storekeepers' displays, rummaging and ruining as he went. My Dad was gone on trek. Mom tried with help of our four housemen, to catch him, but it was of no use. She had no choice, she went to the house, grabbed Dad's 30-6 shotgun, and shot old Blake. The gun had a huge kick. This didn't faze my Mom.
Jocko, Mom & Jim
Mom taught my brother Jim and I, kindergarten and first grade. She also helped out at the girl's school with sewing and English. One weekends she got in the mud to help Dad build a church. (Buildings there were built with tall tree limbs, tied off with twine, and then packed with a combination of cow dung and mud.) This didn't faze my Mom.
We had a small dispensary near us that she frequented, to help out. Very often I saw her with someone's foot in her lap, as she was gently cleaning and wrapping a gaping wound. Ulcers were common, and infections would very often involve worms and bugs living in the wound. This didn't faze my Mom.
Mother went on treks with Dad and other missionaries, mostly walking as men had to machete their way, ahead of them, through underbrush and jungle. Snakes, strange bugs and spiders inhabited the jungle, as did big cats, wild boars and elephants. While traveling on foot, she very often had to hoist the skirt of her dress, over near the top of her head to wade through streams. Once on the bank, she would bend over and pick leeches, the size of a little finger, off her legs and body. This didn't faze my Mom.
Amadu and his family (He was our cook, housekeeper and baby sitter)
We lived in a canvas tent for nine months until our last home was built. Meals were made on our Coleman stove; dishes were washed with water from a stream nearly a mile away, after being boiled, of course. Clothes were beaten across a rock, down at the stream, which was also were bathes were taken. You always had to wear shoes when in the water, as many parasites can come up through your feet. This didn't faze Mom.
We received CARE packages from America. In these packages were used clothes that had been donated to various organizations. When not wearing African garments, we all would model our 'new' clothes. Mom got a dress once, that was thin, probably not too fashionable, but it had bright flowers on it. It was old. That didn't faze Mom.
My Mom had a huge heart and reached out to others. She was outspoken, but always kind. She believed in equal rights for all, and always helping the poor and the sick. She was crazy about my Dad, and would have followed him anywhere. Serving others was a big part of their life.