In 2001, my Mama, Dallie Rhodes Lackey along with the help of a few others put together a book about her grandparents' family tree called--All Rhodes Lead Home. The story, Angels Among Us was written by my Mama. This is part of the Proverbs 31 and Her Story series.
Sometimes in life our path will cross with another that makes a deep impact on our life. Maude Rhodes Blevins was one of these people.
Maude was widowed at an early age. She had four daughters, Annabelle, the oldest was crippled at birth. The youngest was eleven years old when their father died. The strength of Maude's faith helped her to continue caring for her family. She cared for her father and mother-in-law until they passed away.
Maude contacted Social Services to make her house a place for children that were wards of the county. The children were mostly abandoned or one of the parents was dead. Learning respect and knowing someone cared for them was one of the things the children came to know under Maude's care. Sometimes the children would be placed in another home. Some of the children would run away to return to Maude's. They would have to return to their assigned home. This troubled Maude, but there was nothing she could do to keep them in her care. One boy, Monroe, returned to Maude's three times. Finally, Maude had to tell him not to return. As much as she loved Monroe, she could not keep him any longer. This was entirely the Social Services' responsibility and she had no power over the situation.
She would keep six or more children at a time. She seemed to have endless strength to carry on the task that lay before her. Eventually her daughters married and moved out to make a life of their own. Maude and Annabelle remained to care for these forsaken children.
Annabelle would sit before the wood stove in a straight back chair with her legs resting on a small stool. Annabelle always wore white socks on her small drawn feet. These socks were always as white as morning snow. Her body was crippled, but her memory was sharp as a tack. She would remember the children's names and their birthdays even after they left their home.
The children would sometimes return to Maude's home after they were grown. They would bring their children to see Maude and Annabelle. One lady commented to a neighbor, "Maude is the only mother I have ever known and I want my children to know her."
Maude married Earnest Blevins in 1959. His wife had died, leaving him with seven children. Three of the oldest children were grown, but the other children needed someone to care for them. Maude and Annabelle moved from their large old log house in Mountain View to Earnest's house just over the hill.
Earnest was an old time Baptist preacher and worked at a factory during the week and preached at his church on the weekends. Maude seldom attended church. She did not leave Annabelle alone and never asked anyone to help with her care. Earnest's children, like all the other children Maude cared for, loved her dearly. They grew up to be fine upstanding citizens with the knowledge they were loved and wanted. While the children were growing up, Earnest's mother-in-law needed someone to care for her. Needless to say, Maude and Earnest took her into their home. She remained with them until she died.
Isabelle Johnson, one of Maude's oldest friends and classmates wanted to visit Maude. We were welcomed with open arms. We were coaxed to eat a fried apple pie before we left. Maude showed this graciousness to all her visitors.
Maude crocheted a table scarf for my husband and I when we were married. Someone brought her to my house. This was a great honor for me knowing she never visited anyone except on special occasions.
Maude had six grandchildren and cared for them also. She always treated the foster children like her grandchildren showing no partiality at all.
Maude cared for Annabelle until she was ninety-four years old with the help of her daughters. Maude passed away six months later. Residing in a nursing home in North Wilkesboro, NC, Annabelle is happy and can recall the memories of her mother and days gone by.
Maude kept foster children in her home from 1946 to 1959. There were a number of children that were sent to North Carolina Children's Home in Winston-Salem, NC. In my community of Wilkes, I can recall five foster homes at this time. Records are not available to me to count all the homes that opened their doors and hearts for these children. Other children have grown up to be respected citizens and the backbone of our community.
In 1960, the population of Wilkes County was 45,269. The population in 2000 had grown to 65,632. Wilkes County has taken responsibility for their unfortunate children in our complex society with three licensed new foster homes, ten MAPP-trained foster homes, and 23 supervised homes.
With respect and admiration, I give thanks to God for the work and sacrifice these people have given, not only to the children, but also to the elderly. They too have seemed to be forgotten in this fast pace that we call living.
Written by Dallie R. Lackey
May 8, 2001
A humble thanks to my Mama, Dallie Rhodes Lackey for sharing her story, "Angels Among Us".