Wilbur Simpson rocks in the rocker he made for his wife while clutching his 30 minute old daughter. With eyes fixed on the lifeless lump cuddled softly under the covers he begins to pray, “Dear Lord, what am I to do? Father, I am only twenty-three years old. I don’t know anything about raising a girl. She needs a mom. Why? Why Lord, have you done this?”
Tears stream down the young man’s face while little Hannah Simpson sleeps in her father’s arms.
“Hannah come over here and sit on Papa’s lap.”
“Papa, you gonna read to me?”
“Sorta. I’ll read some, but today I’m going to start teaching you how to read.”
“I don’t wanna learn to read.”
“Why not Babycakes?”
“If I know how to read you won’t read to me anymore.”
“Whatever gave you that idea? Your Papa will always read to you, no matter how good you can read.”
“Then why do I need to learn?”
“I may be out in the fields workin’ and then you could read to yourself.”
“Okay, Papa, teach me.”
“Let’s open our Bible and we’ll begin.”
“Papa, what is all that material for? It is so soft.”
“You are becoming such a big girl. You are outgrowing all your clothes. Today, Hannah, Papa will start teaching you how to make your own clothes.”
“Did Momma teach you how?”
“I wish she had Babycakes. Your Momma made such beautiful things.”
“Then who taught you if Momma didn’t?”
“I learned it from a book.”
“Remember Sweetheart, you can do anything you want, because if you don’t know how, someone, somewhere, has written a book on how to do it.”
“Now see, I’ve put the salve on and wrapped a bandage around it. Does it feel better?”
“Sweetheart, don’t you remember what I taught you about the pots on the stove being hot, how you need to move them with the pot holders.”
“I know Papa; I forgot.”
“Maybe I tried to teach you to cook a little to soon.”
“No, Papa. I can cook. I won’t burn myself anymore. I was only trying to surprise you with some fried chicken.”
In his daughter’s eyes Wilbur could see her mother’s maturity, giving heart and that striking sea of blue. Wilbur’s eyes began to moisten.
“Papa, don’t cry. I’m not burned that bad.”
“It’s not that Sweetheart.”
“What is it Papa?”
“I’ll be okay.”
“Papa, look! My dress is finished! Don’t it look wonderful?”
“Yes, Babycakes it does.”
“Do you think Jimmy will like it Papa?”
“Oh, I’m sure he will. Are you ready for your lesson?”
“What lesson Papa?”
“You can’t go to the harvest dance and not know how to dance.”
“Papa, you can’t teach me to dance.”
“I’ve never seen you dance.”
“Your momma taught me. Come here, take my hand . . . ”
Wilbur Winslow holds his hands steady by clutching the podium. As he looks at the crowd of family, friends and strangers, he knows his notes will do him no good; he leaves them in his suit jacket pocket.
“Good morning everyone, thank you all for coming. As the oldest of mom’s children I’ve been asked to say a few words about Momma before Reverend Peterman comes to give the eulogy.
When Hannah Simpson Winslow was born her mother died in childbirth and her father never remarried, but that did not hinder her from being the best mother the five of us could ask for.
Momma taught all of us to read before we ever spent a day in school. The Bible was the textbook she used with us. Mom told us we could do anything if we could read and the world would never pass us by if we continued to read.
She taught us to use everything we have, to waste nothing. All of us, even us boys, know how to sew. I am a sixty-three-year-old man and I mend my socks. My wife thinks I am crazy but Momma taught me to do it.
She bandaged our cuts and kissed our bruises. She taught us how to get along with others, how to cook, she even taught us boys how to dance before we started attending dances at school.
We could not have had a better mother.
August 30, 1888 - February 9, 1977 are only dates. The dash between those dates is the substance of her life.”
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