Cleo Gay Woofter Butcher was a neighbor
of my wife and me. She lived in a small home we built for her, very close to
our house, for nearly twenty years, I had known her for more than forty and
my wife had known her all her life. You likely know, or have guessed by now
that she was the mother of my wife. She was, by any measure, also my mother.
She probably reached five feet at the tallest and she may have topped the
scales at ninety pounds! There are other measures of size and she met all of
After she moved into our guesthouse she was too far away, from her church to
walk, as a result Pearl or I would, each Sunday morning, around 9:30, drive
her to Sunday School. We would, about an hour later, meet her and we would
attend church services together.
One cool autumn morning about 9:30, wearing her usual Sunday clothing, which
always included gloves, she got into the car. I thought she looked a little
different and asked her if she was all right. With a chagrined expression,
she pulled her gloves off and revealed that her fingers had several
scratches on them. When I inquired as to the manner in which the scratches
had occurred, she instead, said, “Look here”! She pulled her skirt very
immodestly, for her, above her knees, and rolling down her stockings,
pointed to scratches on the inside portion of her knees. My next question
was of course, “how in the world did you do that?” She needed to tell
someone. Her explanation has become family lore!
Her small cottage was built on a hill overlooking Muddy Creek; it had a
covered front porch and also a rear deck over-looking the stream below.
Seems the day prior she had been bringing her flowers in from the deck for
the winter, when, by some cause, more than likely a gust of the cool fall
air, the door behind her shut, locking her out of her home! She tried,
without success, to open the window into the kitchen. That did not work. She
said she called and called, hoping we would hear her, she beat on an old
metal dishpan hard enough to dent it, No success. The windows and doors in
our house were also closed against the cool air! When I interrupted to ask,
“Why did you not just break the window in the door?” She was flabbergasted
that I would ask her to destroy a perfectly good window. Her entire life
would not allow her to do such a thing!
The deck, was of course, surrounded by a railing and included a bench for
seating, or in Mother “B’s” case for holding potted plants! It was nearly 12
feet from the ground and that ground then sloped steeply down the hill to
Getting down on the deck and wiggling under the bench, she managed, somehow,
almost certainly by the grace of God, to slowly shimmy down the post to the
ground. A lost grip would have sent her rolling and tumbling down the side
of the hill through the trees and bushes more than two hundred feet to the
creek and surely would have severely injured or killed her. It is a good
thing her front door was not locked. She was thus able, slip back into her
house to doctor her scratches in secret and think of how she would ever
explain her day’s adventure.
We celebrated her 90th birthday three months later!