Monday, January 9, 2012

Janet Marie Slade Smith - Happy Birthday, Momma
On January 9, 1933, Janet Marie was born to James Roy and Ethel Virginia Cundiff Slade. She was the third of four children and the only daughter. 

Her early years were spent in a small farming community known as Bluestone in Tazewell County in the state of Virginia. She attended Graham High School in Bluefield, Virginia, graduating in June of 1951.

Janet married Robert Ernest (Poss) Smith on July 7, 1956. He was 41 and she was 23. Each came to the marriage with 2 sons, Larry, Garry, Steve and Danny. They had one son, Ed, and two daughters, Carol and Ellen. After their marriage, Poss asked Janet if she would be a stay-at-home mother at least until the youngest child, Ed, started school. She agreed, and recalls the years from 1956 until she entered the workforce in 1969-ish as being very fulfilling. 

Her first job was at a local lunch counter, Tanner's, on a part time basis. She also worked for a brief time in the bakery at a Piggly-Wiggly grocery store. She began substitute teaching at Richlands Elementary School and then was hired as a full time instructional aide for the kindergarten program. She worked as an instructional aide until her retirement in 2001 at the age of 68. I am unsure what year she became an aide, I know she was working as one in the autumn of 1972 when I became a freshman in high school.

Over the course of  +/- 30 years, she became well known in the community to hundreds of children and their families. Everyone called her Mrs. Jan. Janet derived a great deal of satisfaction from her work, and it became even more important after the loss of the love of her life in 1986. 

My mother was always very active outside the home. She was a member of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Order of the Eastern Star, the Rebeckahs and Happy Valley Homemakers. In her leisure time, she enjoyed sewing, embroidery and reading. She was always an exceptional cook, well-known for her buttermilk biscuits, yeast bread, cookies and candies, hot dog chili and cole slaw. 

She has had a series of health setbacks over the last three years, and has been forced to curtail most of her outside activities. Though disabled and depending on others for daily assistance, she has maintained an overall positive outlook on life and derives great pleasure from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

As with most mother/daughter relationships, ours has had moments. In the end, I love my mother and would not be the woman I am today were it not for the example she was and the lessons she taught.

I love you, Momma. Happy Birthday.

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