Today, I salute my long ago neighbor and beloved friend, Mary Ellen House Shipman. Hubby’s mother, a 5 foot package of stubborn, self- sufficiency and wisdom.

Today would have been her 102 birthday, and although nearly 40 years have passed since she was laid to rest, she isn’t ‘gone’ from Sunrise Ridge, nor will she be as long as a few of us remain.

She grew up in the hills of Arkasnsas, learned to hunt at an early age. It was said, and I’ve no reason to doubt, that her father would give her some ammunition, one, two, three shells and it was her job to bring in an animal for each shell. If she failed, she had best bring back unused shells or a beating was in store.

It was a hard life no doubt, scratching out a living in the Ozark hills, before the days of electricity, running water in the home and only horses or mules to get from here to there.

A story she shared with me was of a trip with her parents in a covered wagon, during which a younger sister died from ‘fever’. It was one of her earliest memories.

Mary Ellen married at age 14 to a man several years her senior, and was mother to 9 chuldren, four of whom did not live past a year. She also haised a step-son, just 8 or nine years younger than herself.

During the hard times of the depression and post depression years, the family followed the harvests and logging jobs, often living in a tent or cabin, still mostly without amenities.

She was skilled in a knowledge of herb medicines, learned somewhere in her life, and I wish I had listened and learned more from her. I’m thankful for the things that stuck.

There is so much more, and it is all rushing through my mind like a tornado this morning.