A Debt I Can Never Repay

Mom and most of her descendants at a race on her 90th birthday last year.

September 17, 2017 is Mom’s 91st birthday.

Wanda Lee Corn was born at the beginning of the Great Depression and was surrounded by people who had preserved freedom during World War I.  Mom was the seventh of 13 children born to Clyde and Clara Mae (Mitchell) Corn.

Her early years were a struggle.  Many times Granny and Pop Corn didn’t know where the family’s next meal would come from, but they always provided.  Mom remembers one time when Pop Corn saw a truck coming down the dusty road to their house.  It was a man who would pay them $5 for a load of wood.

Pop broke into a smile and said, “Kids, we get to eat tonight.”

That house was in Butler County, Missouri.  It had been built from green lumber.  The wood shrunk as it dried and, that winter, the kids awoke to find snow on their beds.  They might have frozen to death except that, when you sleep five or more to a bed, there will be some warmth.

“Roll over.  You peed in my warm spot.”

The kids all had to work, usually hard.  Many times Mom picked cotton until her fingers bled.

In those days flour came in big cloth sacks of decorative material. Granny Corn and her girls would horde those sacks and sew their clothes from them.  Mom remembers how beautiful some of those dresses were.

There was one year when the cotton field flooded and Pop took the children down to it, saying, “Swim, kids.  Have fun.  That’s all we’ll get out of the farm this year.”

There was the year the house burned to the ground at Christmas time.  The older girls made presents for the younger kids out of cardboard and other scrounged materials.

Another morning Mom awoke to find her father crying.  Her little brother had lost his battle with the whooping cough during the night.  The vision of her father crying as he held the lifeless body of his son is etched in her brain.

But through those years of struggle, there was more happiness than sadness, more pleasure than pain.  And always lots and lots of love.  It all served to teach her that, even though there will be good and bad, everything will usually work out for the best as long as you keep on working.  You can be sad or you can be happy.  The choice is yours.

She chose happiness.

Wanda married Berline Matthews and there were more hard times.  But there were good ones too.  Their union brought three children into the world – two girls and a boy.

Happy birthday, Mom.


With a nod to Jimmy Dean, this is for you.

I owe you so much, Mom.

I owe you for the hugs and kisses.

I owe you for tucking me into bed after chasing away the booger man.

I owe you for those midnight trips into my room when there was something out there.

I owe you for all the miles you put on “Mom’s Taxi Service.”

I owe you for popcorn and Pepsi in front of the TV while we watched  Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, Lassie, and Bonanza.

I owe you for the breakfasts made of a little cocoa, some sugar, and lots of milk…and don’t forget the biscuits.

I owe you for the nourishing meals made of leftovers and scraps that people today would throw out.

I really owe you for the meals when there wasn’t enough food for a family of five, but you didn’t eat because you really weren’t hungry anyway.

I owe you for all the years when you worked a full time job, a part time job, managed Dad’s business, and took in sewing to make ends meet.  All that while raising three children…and I was a full time job all by myself.

I owe you for the stories in front of the fireplace on cold winter evenings.

I owe you for the pats on the back and the kicks in the rear.

I owe you for letting me live those many times when I’d done something so bad that nobody would have blamed you if you’d killed me.

I owe you for the times you managed to ignore something I did right in front of you and for the times you didn’t tell Dad what I’d done because you knew he wouldn’t have let it slide.

I owe you for the time I built tree houses in the mimosas in the back yard.  I cut or broke several limbs in those beautiful trees.  When Dad fretted to you about it, you reminded him, “We’re not raising trees; we’re raising a boy.”

I owe you for all the “back porch psychotherapy”, for all the tears dried and the broken hearts mended.

I owe you for the skinned knees kissed and the splinters removed and for your ability to do major surgery with a sewing needle and some mercurochrome.

I owe you for the pants patched and shirts mended…and the ones made from nothing but cloth, thread, and a few buttons you’d saved from one of Dad’s worn out shirts.

I owe you for feeding all the stray puppies and kittens I brought home.

I owe you for all the sleepless nights – nights when you really needed some rest, but you couldn’t…because of me.

I owe you for taking in the skinny little girl I brought home from Lexington, for taking her into your heart and making her your own.

I owe you for everything you’ve done for me and for my family, for loving my sons and for all the help you gave us with them.

I owe you for so many things that I know I can never repay.

I owe you for raising a boy.


Thank you, Mom, for being the best mom a boy could ever have.

I love you.


Mom and me.


Pam, Mom, and Chickie. My sisters with our mom.



13 Comments on "A Debt I Can Never Repay"

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    • Scott Matthews | September 16, 2017 at 7:43 pm |

      Hi Madison,

      Thanks for reading my post about Mom. I hope you liked it and that you find more to like here in the future.

      Welcome aboard!

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  3. That was a great tribute to your mom!

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  5. It’s amazing how her life made her so strong. How she chose to have a better life and because of that we all have a great life! Thank you Granny

  6. That was tear jerking. Nice job though!

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