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MAMA’S PRECIOUS HANDS

Her hands were small and wrinkled
The veins large and blue
They had toiled long and hard
As mothers’ hands do
In years they were less agile
And so, moved rather slow
A sad part of growing old
I wish it were not so

They loved to write a story
To draw and write a rhyme
But it didn’t happen often
As they could not find the time
For they made almost all my clothes
And how that needle flew
They cooked and baked and canned
And made a garden, too

They milked the cow twice a day
Culled eggs from the nest
Scrubbed the floors and washed the clothes
Her hands could find no rest
And even if she found some time
That freed her just to sit
Her hands were busy mending clothes
I said, they never quit

And when I journey back in time
With memory’s sweet recall
I feel those hands on fevered brow
When I was very small
They also had a magic touch
When tending scraped knees
Or burns or cuts or bruises
Putting frightened child at ease

When death finally stilled them
They were folded in repose
They looked so small and fragile
As they clasp a single rose
I bent and kissed those precious hands
For all they’d done for me
But I still see them full of life
In frequent memory

3/8/89 Phyllis DeWitt VanVleck

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OUR NATION’S CORNER-STONE

She never complained of hardship,
For like others of her kind,
She accepted the hand life dealt her
And never looked behind.

The barren plains seemed cruel at times,
With luxuries all too few.
Besides a woman’s usual chores,
She labored outdoors, too.

The tedious chores of making soap
And slopping the old sow,
Then churning butter from the milk
Of a brown jersey cow.

She helped her husband in the fields.
She made her family’s clothes.
Made feather-beds and big straw-ticks,
And tended grapevine rows.

She tilled the garden with great zest
And harvested the crop.
She worked long hours, rain or shine,
It seemed she could not stop.

This woman of great character
Was mother, wife, and cook.
She was carpenter and farm-hand,
With all the strength that took.

She was teacher and repairman,
And many times, a vet.
Her days were long, her nights were short,
But needs were always met.

She found no time to sit and rest,
Most work was done alone.
I think the pioneer woman
Was our nation’s corner-stone.

8/31/92 Phyllis DeWitt VanVleck

5’th … Arkansas NPD 1996

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