Lett's Set A Spell
My Mama (Ruby Knight Lett) was a matriarch at home and on the farm, and a leader in the church and community. She was respected for her role as the ideal homemaker and loyal wife and wanted so much for her two daughters to follow in her footsteps. She was proud that Mary Carolyn and I, Sandy Lynn, made good grades, won awards, were praised by teachers and did not fall prey to unladylike temptations. My brother Jimmy Doyle was wild as a buck rabbit, but that’s another story for another day.
During the summer of 1964, my brother Jimmy married Sharon Lynn Wood and brought her home to live with us. We carved out room for the love struck couple, and I adapted to having another sister in the house. She was only 16 years old. By the time the couple’s first child, William Doyle “Billy” Lett, was born 13 months later, Sharon and Jimmy had moved out, but Mama babysat for Billy and I discovered the joys of having a younger child around. In 1968, Sharon and Jimmy had another boy, Michael Wayne Lett, and Jimmy was excited that Billy had the brother he had always wanted.
Meanwhile, my sister Carolyn attended Sanford Business School and married Pete McNeill, and they settled in Broadway next to the property that later became Lett Family Park. They added more boys to the family, Todd and Mark. Carolyn focused her career on accounting and worked for many years for Weyerhauser in Moncure. Sharon found her bliss as a teacher’s aid at Broadway School and assisted her husband with Lett’s Tree Removal Service. Both sisters were involved with Moore Union Christian Church and took their children there.
WHILE MY SISTERS helped Mama hold down the home front, I chose the gypsy life. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1976, I headed to Columbus, Ohio, to pursue studies in holistic healing. While working for a newspaper and doing free-lance writing, I experimented with motherhood by helping to rear two young boys who were in turmoil due to divorce and needed some love and stability in their lives. Later, I returned to North Carolina, served as lifestyles editor of The Sanford Herald, worked in television in Chapel Hill and focused on a marketing career in Raleigh.
During the 1990s, I enjoyed my visits home more because Wayne and his wife Emily had birthed a baby girl Chelsy, who was the apple of everyone’s eye. Soon afterward, Billy and his wife Kim gave us Tyler, so we had two little girls on the Lett farm and later two boys, Jared and Joshua, from Wayne and Emily. I loved playing with my great-nieces and great-nephews.
Carolyn’s son Todd and wife Tracy added Jacob and Gavin McNeill to the family, and her son Mark and wife Samantha had three sons, Jackson, Bryson and Turner. In response to five grandsons, Carolyn exclaimed: “Am I ever going to get to buy a prom dress?”
AFTER MOVING BACK to Buckhorn in 2002, Mama and Daddy (Bud) became sick and needed around the clock care so Sharon, Carolyn and I took turns and also hired help. During this time, Sharon was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease but kept her pain secret as she continued to give unselfishly to others.
By the time Daddy died in 2004 and Mama in 2005, Sharon’s disease could not be hidden. Due to increasing symptoms, Sharon took a leave of absence from her job, however, she could never return to the classroom. Teachers and students miss her bright, funny and caring personality.
Recently, Carolyn and Sharon’s sister, Debbie Wood Sloan, retired in good health, and they help with the care of Sharon while others pitch in, too. I visit often and watch Sharon struggle with her symptoms. We are sisters facing another challenge together.
Today I am spending Mother’s Day with Sharon and Carolyn — two wonderful women I love deeply and admire dearly — and their families. We will be celebrating many decades of togetherness, filled with much joy and some sorrow. Most importantly, we will be sharing memories of the good times and feelings of enduring love.
AlexSandra Lett is the mother of three seven-year-old cats, King Khaki, Silver Queen and Princess Joy, and a kitten Prince Charming. She is a professional speaker and the author of “Natural Living, From Stress to Rest;” “A Timeless Place, Lett’s Set a Spell at the Country Store;” “Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart;” “Timeless Recipes and Remedies, Country Cooking, Customs, and Cures;” and “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections about Work, Family, Health, and Spirit.” Lett can be reached at (919) 258-9299 or LettsSetaSpell@aol.com.