Lett's Set A Spell

May. 19, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

The annual observance of Mother’s Day encourages everyone to appreciate the many contributions many mothers and all women have made. May should be declared Marvelous Women Month! 

My Mama (Ruby Lett) was famous for cooking Sunday dinners featuring at least two meats, several vegetables, and mouth-watering biscuits and desserts. Daddy (Bud Lett) would exclaim: “Ruby is pert-near the best cook in Buckhorn.” We young’uns, Jimmy, Carolyn and I, stuffed our stomachs and then asked for more.

Mama was disappointed that I didn’t get her cooking and homemaking genes, but eventually accepted my gifts for sharing stories and taking pictures. She especially loved browsing through photo albums depicting various family gatherings. 

While growing up, I was blessed by associations with several motherly figures including Aunt Gladys (pronounced Glaa-dis) who lived across the road with Grandpa (Puzie) and constantly shared her culinary creations with us, including fresh cream from the cow, often served with strawberries that she had picked fresh. On the Lett farm, all of us ate “high on the hog,” thanks to Mama and Gladys.

My favorite aunt was Isabelle, who married Daddy’s only brother Gilbert, and we dined often in their fancy house. She prepared wonderful meals and treated us country folks to milkshakes made in a blender. Gilbert and my cousins Tony and Janice liked showing off the new fangled dishwasher and other “citified” gadgets.  

DURING MY TEENAGE years, I met two wonderful women who offered spiritual food for my soul. First, I became friends with Betty Daly, a poet whose husband Roswald “Roz” was the doctor in Broadway. Betty was the first person to understand my obsession with writing and became a role model as a published author and an exceptional mother who thrived from creative self-expression.

After high school, I worked as a staff writer for The Sanford Herald and met a unique woman, Margrette Stone, who inspired me to get more education and focus on a writing career. I loved listening to her ideas about creativity, spirituality, philosophy  and culture. While in college, Margrette and I continued to be fabulous friends and wrote many letters back and forth and came together again when I became lifestyles editor of The Herald in 1980. Together we focused on fighting her cancer through holistic therapies. 

Several years later while working for a newspaper near Dayton, Ohio, I interviewed Ann Klosterman, who reared 12 children she birthed with her husband Cy, and they adopted me into their fold. Ann was an expert in nutritious cooking and holistic healing, so I learned a lot about nourishing body, mind and spirit. She is almost 90 now, and we continue to be close friends.

When reassessing my career and seeking my voice as a writer in 1998, I rented a cabin in Chatham County from Joanna Bright … another wonderful mother who became a fabulous friend. She read my first “Lett’s Set a Spell” columns and shared stories and ideas.  

SINCE MOVING BACK to Buckhorn in 2002, I am surrounded my many wonderful mothers, including my sister Carolyn and sister-in-love Sharon, who I wrote about last week.

My oldest mother is Ora Brown Clayton, whose children I have known for more than 30 years. While working on political campaigns in the 1980s, I met Ora’s daughters Karen Clayton Thomas and Lois Clayton Thomas. Their Daddy Carl Clayton won my heart when he showed up at an all-girls’ birthday luncheon honoring me. Ironically, my Daddy and Carl were best friends during World War II, and we offspring followed in their footsteps. I was quickly welcomed into the family fold by two other sisters, Glenda Patterson and Diane Hunter, and two brothers, Carl Jr. and Marshall. Eventually, I bought the house that Diane and her husband Johnny Hunter built at the Lee-Harnett County line. 

Ora loves reading The Sanford Herald and saves me clippings of articles I have written. I enjoy participating in the Clayton family gatherings, and last year we celebrated Ora’s 90th birthday at Antioch Baptist Church near Mamers.

During Mother’s Day month, I am visiting with several wonderful women and I am feeling love for many others. I am grateful for my experiences with numerous fantastic females with diverse personalities and different talents. Each has contributed to my development as a person and each continues to inspire my growth.  

AlexSandra Lett 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.