February is always that month that just feels in between—in between the holidays and in between Spring. Many wonder how we spend our winter months in the Corley household. Recently we showed photos of Milt working on one of his endless tasks, fixing some of the 250+ tires on the farm, but I spend lots of the winter months in my office. We have plenty of paperwork to take care of the farm business, but for nearly 30 years, I have operated an accounting/bookkeeping business from our home. When I left a job for maternity leave at the birth of Jennifer and Craig, I never went back on anyone’s payroll. God has blessed me with dozens of clients over the years and that job has always provided just what we needed as we helped this business grow. So winter becomes my crunch time. Preparing w-2’s and 1099’s for my clients while I get their books in order for their tax preparers to finish tax returns. It becomes another “busy time” at the farm for me!
While February is that “tax season” month for me, and Valentine’s Day, and cold winter days, it has another special meaning to us. My Mama’s birthday is February 12. Born in 1934 in East Tennessee, Mama married my Daddy in 1953. She took care of things at home while my Daddy finished school at University of Tennessee and Purdue University. They took off for Iowa when Daddy went to work for John Deere and then he was drafted. The Army took them to El Paso and Connecticut while he did his three year tour and then back to Iowa they went. Our little family moved back to East Tennessee when I was about 6 years old and Mama went on doing what Mama loved doing—taking care of her family. Daddy went to work at Eastman Kodak and Mama took care of us. Our evenings and weekends were family time and we traveled all over the United States in the summers. We camped and fished and spent many a day in the garden at our house or the grandparents. And Mama taught us to sew and cook. We learned how to snap green beans and bake fresh apple pies. When we grew up, Mama found other babies to rock and care for as she cared for nephews then soon a grandchild.
When my twins were born, my Mama came and spent lots of days helping me adjust to being not just a new mom but a mom of two! She cleaned and cooked and rocked and encouraged. And she loved. Just like all the other children who came across Mama’s lap, all her grandchildren knew Grandmom’s love. You couldn’t get enough of it.
When the Lord brought my family to Western Kentucky, Mama and Daddy spent lots of time with us. In between their travels around the country and going back to East Tennessee to take care of things at home, Mama and Daddy were here every chance they got. Daddy (Granddad) spent long hours helping on the farm (and that will have to be another story maybe in June for his birthday month) and Mama did what she loved to do. She transported grandchildren back and forth to school. They always took trips to Lic’s for ice cream. And every child loved climbing in the big blue recliner with Grandmom to read stories, play games or just cuddle. It’s just what you did.
And Mama kept taking care of all of us. Through all the years of balancing an accounting business, being a Mother myself, a wife and starting a farm business, I could have never made it all happen without the loving help from Mama. She encouraged, she listened, she cried with me and we laughed together about all the crazy adventures of this life. She’s the example I looked to as a woman who loved her family fiercely and would do whatever it takes to meet their needs.
I know beyond a shadow of doubt that my Mama spent many hours praying for me. She worried like all mothers do that I worked too hard, and I know she was disappointed when her health kept her from coming to help like she wanted to. But there is nothing like telling your Mama about your successes and seeing the pride on her face. She told everybody she knew about this little farm in Western Kentucky called Christian Way Farm.
October 18, 2017, Mama stepped out of this world into her new home with Jesus. And certainly a piece of our hearts went with her. I rejoice that Mama is no longer in pain and I’m envious that she gets to walk with Jesus in His Heavenly home, but we surely miss her and February 12 is always a bittersweet day now. Mama’s having a grand party and we will join her one day, but for now we will remember how Mama loved us.
I know that if Mama were still here, she would be helping clean up the dishes, or doing the laundry, or folding brochures, or whatever task she could do to help us keep this home and farm going. Thank you Mama for the investment you made in me, our family and Christian Way Farm. I’m sure you are telling Jesus that you need Him to watch over us and He is. Hug Jesus tight for me, Mama. And we will see you again someday soon. Thanks for watching out for us. This family and Christian Way Farm have much to thank you for! We love you!