It’s an old book now, with a plain faded-blue cover. The title, the name of a young girl, is all it says on its face. Opening the book carefully, on the inside in a script written by a nibbed pen in ink were the words:
Presented to Addene Dodson by Arliss Wilson for
perfect attendance at Eaton School 1936-1937.
Mom would have been 13 years old. The name of the book was Heidi, and it was the year Shirley Temple made it a popular motion picture. It was a part of the media excitement of its time, depicting the life of a young girl growing up with her doting grandfather in the Swiss Alps before the wars, with the many twists and turns life can go through. Mom never spoke of it, but it was there in her bedside table together with some other books, close by her side each night as she slept.
Mama was the last of eight children, or at the least, the last of eight who lived. The oldest, a ninth child, didn’t make it through birth.
While she lived with Granny, the two of them would wait for Mama’s letters to come back from overseas, first from Guam and later Germany (and years later England), and would read together about her fascinating tales in far-away lands.
I am now reading that copy of Heidi to join Mom for a little while once again, walking her path and spending some time in internal dialogue with her, checking out one small corner of her world.
I believe this book to be part of the original impetus that Mom had for ‘getting out-of-Dodge’. On her hutch in the family homestead there has always been a picture of Mom, no longer 13, with snow-covered mountains in the background.
From the Tennessee farm to the Swiss Alps.
She made it.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Love you, wherever you are.