I love the Appalachian mountains. I was born and, for the most part, raised in Rome, Georgia, a small town nestled in the foothills of Appalachia. My Mama, her parents and I would “go riding,” at least once a year, deep into North Georgia mountains, sometimes in the fall to see the leaves and buy apples and sometimes to see Bertie, wife of Granddaddy’s first cousin, in Clarksville. Bertie, as Mama describes her, was “a good ole mountain woman.” There was a lot of gossip, laughter and just hanging out on these trips.
Mama was very close to Bertie’s daughter, Linda. As a teenager, I really admired Linda. As far as I could tell, she could do most anything. She made — among other things — dolls and ceramics. Her and her husband even built a house by hand deep in the woods. Linda also took care of her daughter, B.J.
B.J. and I were born about the same time. There is a cute picture of her and me on a blanket, just a few months old. But while I developed mentally and physically at a “normal” pace, she did not. BJ was a constant reminder to me of how fortunate I was. In 1980, BJ had a stroke and had to be taken care of around the clock. Linda took on this responsibility, and like many a strong mountain woman, Linda found a way to survive in the dark times. As she sat day in and day out by her daughter’s side, Linda discovered a talent for art. A video of Linda and her folk art can be found at http://www.gpb.org/stateofthearts/term/anderson.