More than living under a rock, one has to have been far into a cave not to know that this nation celebrates the holiday of Mother’s Day due to the perseverance of West Virginia native, Anna Jarvis, who campaigned long and hard, as her mother had wished, to celebrate a day of honor, long overdue. With each person there comes a memory, however fleeting, of the beginnings that shaped our lives. While it is true that many will not smile with gratitude, for example, a friend of mine whose mother was, as they say, “always in her cups” until she jumped out a window or someone said she drank something from under the sink, by mistake. That is a question, never to be ask. Whatever his thoughts may be, his life moved on as he pulled his own oars until his retirement as a Lt. Colonel in the US Army, not bad for an enlisted man.
My case, holding onto my mother’s hand, when I was 7 years old, waiting for the C&O to Washington, DC, where we lived and she worked there until her retirement and I grew up attending schools until I struck out on my own. She had left behind her friends, job and family and as was not so unusual for the times, a marriage that was not to survive the war years. Later, she would say that saw greater opportunity in life for, me, as yet another reason for her decision.
On a personal note, President Abraham Lincoln said it before and said it the best, “All I am and ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”
In the years that followed, my work, my travels and my wonderful wife were all the result of her patience and understanding. Then, she was gone, suddenly. I turned to my new guiding light.
My wife and I took on the task of closing out her affairs, while I worked out the details of her final resting place, determined best to be next to her mother, in Talcott Cemetery, with the arrangements to be handled by Charles Lobban, Alderson Funeral Director.
On our side, as she had requested to be cremated, I made the arrangements for the shipment of her ashes to the Lobban Funeral Home in Alderson.
Several days later, I received a phone call that her ashes had been returned with the package stamped “UNKNOWN.” Of course, that was impossible. Lobban has been doing business in Alderson for over 100 years, they are only one block from the Post Office, how could that be? Easy, it turned out. Whether it was me or someone else, the zip code was wrong, the package instead of 24910 (Alderson) showed 24901 (Lewisburg), the last two digits were reversed.
At this point, please accept this as my wish that you all have fond memories of family, especially, if you were as fortunate as I was, knowing that she will understand when I sum it all up by saying,
“For many years, she had wanted to return to West Virginia, at the end, she returned twice in one week.”
Jack D. Ballard