The Heroines

Katherine Kitchens

is honored with a Medium Paver from Elizabeth and Donald King.

 Katherine  Kitchens A tribute to my mother: I have many poignant images of my mother. A number of these memories are created from stories centered around pictures, like the one of her which sits on my dresser. She was about three and her older sister was five, their arms flung about each other grinning shyly for the camera. Mom and Aunt Betty were probably wearing dresses made by my grandmother, for money was scarce. My grandfather served as a Baptist minister in North Carolina, and during the Depression, it was often a challenge to provide for his wife and four children.

Fast forward to another picture on my dresser. My beautiful mother had met my father while attending Wheaton College and now they are smiling happily on their wedding day.

My favorite dresser picture was taken when I was about three and my sister was five. We are wearing matching Easter dresses and coats my mother had made; Mother looks elegant in a black shawled dress and wearing a slightly-tilted black hat while holding a bouquet of daffodils. It sounds overly sentimental, but you truly feel from the picture that she loves us. After my brother was born a few years later, our family was complete. My parents became missionaries in 1967, first to Ghana and then to the Philippines, and they spent their life together as partners, loving their Lord and their family.

Then there's the picture taken of Mom and Dad in 1983, the last one of them together before Dad's sudden death from a heart attack. A widow at age 54, Mom faced this difficulty with courage, never hiding from us her tears of sorrow, but always exuding strength and relying on her faith to sustain her.

But there's also the picture on my dresser of my mother on her wedding day to Louis, a dear man who was also widowed, and several months ago they shared their 10th anniversary. We are grateful they have each other.

These pictures, however, do not tell the whole story of this remarkable woman. I have countless pictures in my albums which reveal Mom's personality and character under more ordinary circumstances. There are pictures of her singing, in churches and at home. There are pictures of her at Christmas, surrounded by family enmeshed in carrying out family traditions that we learned from her and now are passing on to our children. There are ones of her smiling proudly at our high school and college graduations, and now there are ones of her at the graduations of the first of her ten grandchildren.

But then there are the memories for which I only have mind pictures. The many nights when she and I stayed up and watched late night movies, like "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane." And I fondly remember the family evenings playing Scrabble (Mom usually won), and eating homemade peach cobbler with ice cream. Or there was the time when my then- 53- year old mother and I held hands and screamed like school girls as we torpedoed down the highest slide at a water park. There was also the time when Mom's comforting words stretched through phone wires to give me encouragement during a difficult time in my life. Days later an angel teddy bear arrived... and odd gift for a 30 year-old woman... but nonetheless needed and it remains one of my cherished life mementos.

My mother was 70 on July 26, 1998. She is the woman I most admire and love. Mom has taught me to laugh, and often that means at myself. She has inspired me to always do my best; to look for each person's positive qualities; to never back away from challenges; to be a loyal friend and sister; to love my God; and to always put my husband and sons first. I hope her good qualities live on through me and bless my children as much as she has blessed me.

Submitted by Elizabeth H. King

September 15, 1998 (for Katherine Kitchens)