I am able to trace back my maternal genealogy an impressive distance. My personal experience and knowledge begins with my maternal great-grandmother, Ruthie Mae McDonald Smith. I am glad to have known her as a young girl. I have glimpses of who she was, who she became. Recently, I feel that I’ve grown to know her more intimately as I’ve begun in depth research preparing for a historical narrative I am writing.
Here is a photo of her with her husband, my great-grandfather and her five oldest children. The oldest girl, is my own grandmother, Alvis Yvone Smith (later to become a DeMoss).
In this photo as I study my great-grandmother’s face, I can imagine she was so proud and probably so tired. Life was hard, physically hard nearly a century ago. She could not have seen what the future would hold, the tragedy, the grief, the heartache and surely the nightmares. She could not have known that three of her children in this photograph would become part of history, part of the worst school related disaster our nation has ever known.
The New London School Explosion would destroy more than a building. It destroyed lives, families and the hopes and dreams of many mothers. Only moments before dismissal a gas explosion claimed hundreds of children and many of their teachers.
I didn’t know her before of course, but my grandmother told me that her momma was never the same again. She never quite recovered. And yet, she continued to mother. She would birth four more children and live a long life. She would become the woman I remember, always appearing a little melancholy.
Today is Mother’s Day and I’m thinking of Ruthie Mae McDonald who knew the greatest heartache a mother can have I’m thinking of her eldest daughter, Alvis Yvone Smith DeMoss who had children of her own and one of them my mother, Genevieve DeMoss Roberts. I’m thinking of them all and my heart is thankful.
I’m thankful to have known the most influential women in the world, in my world. I am thankful for the rich spiritual heritage that they passed on to me and that I will pass on to my daughters. Today I celebrate them all! Happy Mother’s Day!