Just Enough Encouragement

At almost 91, Mattie Belle is one of my oldest readers. I’ve known her since I was in ninth grade and became friends with her daughter, Delores. I was so touched when she sent me this handwritten card after she read my memoir.

Delores told me that when her mother finished my book, she loaned it to one of her fellow members at Holly Spring Baptist Church. After that woman read it, Mattie Belle shared it with another. It was very rewarding to hear how Delores’s mother recommended my memoir to others.

“Your Mama’s cutting into my profit,” I told Delores, and laughed, happy that the book was being passed around. So what if those church friends didn’t go onto Amazon and buy it.

I’m reminded of years ago when I went with Delores, Mattie Belle–and her friend, Peggy to the North Carolina mountains. That was the fall I was taking chemotherapy for breast cancer. I’d been hesitant to go since I’d just lost my hair and was wearing a wig. I didn’t know how comfortable I’d be with anyone, outside my immediate family, seeing my bald head when I took the hot, itchy thing off at the end of the day.

But I couldn’t have found a more accepting group of women to share myself at my worst– bald head and prednisone puffiness, at the heaviest weight of my lifetime. Peggy had been through her own hard time with some serious health problems that had left her in a state that was much less of herself.

(L-R) Me, Peggy, Mattie Belle, Delores September 2000

In the providence of that weekend in the mountains, Peggy said she felt encouraged by me, and I was impacted by her story. She’d been through so much, but told about all that happened to her without the bitterness you’d expect. We ended up laughing as much as lamenting, finding comfort and joy sharing the fall beauty of the Blue Ridge and the balm of friendship during hard times.

Years later, Mattie was diagnosed with breast cancer and I sent her a card of encouragement. I remembered when I went through cancer, the voices I most longed to hear were those who’d been through treatment themselves. When I saw Mattie Belle after that, she referred to how we’d both been through cancer–part of that sisterhood regardless of our age difference.

Me in my awful wig with Mattie Belle September 2000

A year ago, after I told my friends about my separation, Delores told her mother. She understood since she and Delores’s father went through divorce when we were in high school. Again, Mattie Belle reached out to me to let me know she was sorry for what I was going through. Over the two months that Delores stayed with me last winter when her husband was in a Durham rehabilitation center, she often commented on the similarities of my situation and what her mother had gone through.

Mattie Belle and I had both experienced the losses of cancer and divorce.

I keep her note telling me how much she enjoyed my memoir tucked in the pages of my copy. Over the past year I’ve only had the focus and energy to write a weekly blog post. I put off working on the sequel to my memoir– the next seven solo journeys in the seven years since the ending of He Heard My Voice.

It’s time to move forward with the sequel; Mattie Belle is waiting. Pulling out her note, seeing her handwriting and feeling her presence, I have just enough encouragement to get to work.

17 thoughts on “Just Enough Encouragement

    • Hey Julia,
      Thanks so much for reading and for your supportive words.
      Yes, I’m glad you’ve re-started your memoir. Only you can give us that story. Blessings to you as you find your way through that journey of writing your book.


    • Hey Jena,
      Can’t promise about the timing of completion but I am getting started!
      Thanks for your ongoing support, Jena. I really appreciated the review and positive publicity you gave to my first memoir.
      Best to you,


    • Thanks, Zelmare.
      I was a little hesitant to state this goal publicly– because now I have to do it! But, I knew that if I put my desire out there, I would gather the support I need and would have readers that would keep me at the task.
      Best to you, Zelmare, and thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up: Pinktober Begins Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

    • Hey Mae,
      Thanks so much for reading and responding.
      Yes, Mattie is a fine woman and I think we’re fortunate to have loved and learned from her over the years.
      Best to you and your family, Mae. Thanks for your prayers.


    • Hey Harriet,
      Thanks so much for reading and for your gracious response.
      Yes, it is wonderful when we can have friendships between the generations. There’s so much support and so much to be learned from one another.
      Best to you,


  2. This is a real-time experience. Your reference to feeling Matte’s presence is what everyone should experience. With your abilities to put it in word to share is your true gift. Blessings to you for stepping out on the sequel. Go for the gold.


  3. So enjoyed reading this before heading to Holly Springs Baptist Church on Sunday. Yes I still go to my home church but my son had invited me to go with him as he often does. Realizing I might not see Delores but thought of you both. I consider you both dear friends. You have my prayers and support and looking forward to your sequel. Stay strong and God Bless you on this journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Debra,
      Thanks so much for reading, responding– and your encouragement. I do need the prayers of you and all my friends to help me settle into writing the sequel. I feel that’s what I’m supposed to do.
      I hope to have an Author/Reader get together with you women of Holy Springs Baptist after we’re safely passed this pandemic.
      Best to you on your journey as well!

      Liked by 1 person

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