Andy Hollifield 5-6-18
Psalms 113:9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.
Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
This day in history has several significant events that have occurred over the years. Events such as the English Channel tunnel opening in 1994. In 1991 NASCAR driver Harry Gant became the oldest driver to win a NASCAR event when he won at the Talladega Super Speedway in Alabama. On this day in 2013 three women that had been abducted years earlier were rescued from a home in Cleveland, Ohio. An event that shocked the civilized world took place in Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1937 when the German airship Hindenburg exploded while trying to land in an electrical storm. There were 36 people killed and the event was so big that it was being broadcast live on radio as the nation no doubt listened in horror. On the lighter side, it was on this day in 1954 that Englishman Roger Bannister recorded the first ever sub four-minute mile with a time of 3:59.4. He later broke his own record with a time of 3:58.8. In 1940, author John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer prize for his book, “The Grapes Of Wrath.” In 1943, FDR created the WPA to provide jobs for unemployed men during the Great Depression. But, I didn’t want to write this as a history lesson of the world but yet as a summary of my personal history.
The greatest event that took place on this day happened in 1944 when Robbie Wilson Walton gave birth to her third daughter, my mom Nancy Hollifield. Some might be thinking that this would be better as a tribute for Mother’s Day next week and if I was writing it for show or attention; that would be right. I wanted however, to honor my mom on her special day so she wouldn’t have to share the spotlight with anyone else. In those days, the Flat Creek community was just that, a community. It was much like most other farming communities around the country. I am not sure about all the details of mom’s birth, such as whether a mid wife or doctor came to the house or if grandma gave birth without any help at all. Those things don’t really matter and I am sure that they were pretty much of no concern to my grandpa Marvin and grandma as they welcomed their baby girl.
I am going to skip over a lot of stuff that I don’t really know about and get on to some things that I do know. Mom grew up rather poor, at least financially speaking, in part because her dad had fallen off of the old Orton Hotel which he was tearing down in downtown Asheville, possibly having suffered a heart attack and never recovered from his injuries. I believe that was in October of 1960. Mom was only 16 years old and at least one of her sisters, Marlene was already married to Alvin Buckner. Jesse may have also been married to Carlos Crowder by that time also. As the third of 6 kids, I am sure that mom had a lot more responsibility than she previously had, being the oldest remaining at home. Grandma worked for a while at Weaverville Laundry and my uncle Bud left school I believe in eighth grade to go to work to support the family. Some of these details I am a little sketchy on.
On October 28th, 1962 she married my dad Virgil Hollifield of Candler, Weaverville, and anywhere else that his dad took a notion to move the family. This was his third proposal in only 6 weeks of courtship. It took though. In spite of the normal struggles that almost all young married couples deal with, their marriage lasted “till death do us part” just like the vows they had agreed to. My dad succumbed to lung cancer and liver disease on October 9th, 2007 less than three weeks from their 45th anniversary.
Mom endured a lot of trauma in her life and also in the life of her kids. My brother Jim cut his toe practically off with a lawnmower when we were in our early teens. At 18, I had a kidney transplant. Dad had also had part of a lung removed in 1986. He had also suffered from pleurisy that kept him bedridden for about a month in the winter of ’76-’77 I believe. This was also at the same time that she was recovering from back surgery. She is also a breast cancer survivor for 3 years so far. I don’t want to try to poor-mouth about our lives because you will seldom hear mom complain about anything.
I want to mention a few things about my mom that I am very proud of. I have an exceptional mom that I have always been proud of and thankful for. Having grown up like she did, she became a very resourceful woman full of true grit just like her mom was. One day when I was probably in ninth or tenth grade, Jim and I came in from school to find the staircase going to my bedroom laying in the back yard. We lived in an old duplex mill house in downtown Martel Village. Mom had mentioned several times about that she would like to have those stairs removed so her kitchen would be bigger. To our amazement, she had set to work sometime that day and had taken out the wall, kitchen closet, and the stairs. Me and Jim may have helped her take out the risers due to the weight but I can’t remember. She may have done that by herself too.
She had a better nose than a beagle when we were young and proved it by always being able to tell if we had been smoking or even playing with matches. That was kind of our fault because we were too dumb to realize that lighting matches in front of the open bedroom window just blew the smoke right downstairs to the kitchen. She was also tricky when she had to be. We used to keep a box of Carnation powdered milk. We always talked about how sickening that was and how it didn’t even taste like milk and just ruined a good bowl of Corn Flakes. What we didn’t know until we were much older, was that when the milk jug got empty, she would use it to mix up powdered milk to give to us. She finally told us in my teens or early twenties that for something I hated I had sure drunk enough of it. Not only that little trick, but one year at Christmas her and dad had got me a weight bench. It was too big and heavy to wrap, so mom put a card on the Christmas tree that said follow this string. I did and found my weight bench in their bedroom closet.
Mom and dad raised all four of us to be adults and able to become productive members of society and be able to provide for ourselves and eventually our families. I was entrusted with a lot of responsibility and allowed to go throughout the neighborhood working for people. It was instilled into me to always be honest with everyone and to do my very best and no one could beat it. They taught me and Jim how to be men and taught the girls that they would be ladies, at least while they lived at home. Mom could stretch dimes into dollars and although we didn’t have all of our wants, we never lacked for love and always had what we needed. We were raised in church and attendance was required as long as we were living at home. Mom and dad believed in discipline and that kids were supposed to honor their parents. That wasn’t a suggestion but a requirement in our home. We had 2 rules in our home. Rule #1 was “Never lie to dad” and rule #2 was “Never back-talk mom.”
Both mom and dad have always been supportive of all of us. They let me play three years of baseball even though they knew I was quite possibly the worst player to ever play in the Erwin Youth League. They had always taught me that if I did anything, always do my best. I did and even though it was terrible, I loved being part of a team and encouraging the guys that were good. Mom was also the one that instilled the first doctrinal truths that I ever knew. Those were that Jesus loves me, he knows all things, and nothing is hid from God. She also popped my thigh real good the one time I dared take a hotwheel to church and took it out of my pocket.
Mom stayed home and raised us until Norma went to school. She actually was home for a lot of years when we came home from school. It wasn’t until we were in middle and high school that we were latch-key kids because she got a job. Back then it wasn’t a big deal because we were made to mind and we could be trusted, at least most of the time. Mom and dad both encouraged me to pursue my songwriting and even though I have never made it as a songwriter, at least I know I tried and gave it my best. Mom was usually the first one I sung my songs to regardless of whether it was country or gospel. I only wrote a couple of songs that I wouldn’t want to sing to her and they weren’t really bad but just not good enough to sing to her. She has taught me as much or more about preaching than anybody I know. Back in the early days of my ministry, she taught me that there was way too much gospel to be preached rather than harping on everybody’s bad habits. That advice has served me well over the years. Mom is even encouraging me to pursue the writing I am doing now with these posts. How in the world could anybody not try when you have the kind of parental support and involvement in my life that I have always had.
I know this has been long but sometimes when you speak from the heart, it can’t be said in just a few words. I believe that I can speak for all four of us mom when I say, “Thank you for being such a great woman and a great mom. We love you and hope you have a happy birthday.” For everyone that reads my posts, I really appreciate you reading and I hope they are a help to you. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!
Andy Hollifield 5-6-18