Mama’s Mirror
Mama’s Mirror
Dust Jacket Hardcover
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It is 1941 and sixteen-year-old Cora Jean Harold has just buried her mother. Now alone in the world, Cora Jean has no choice but to leave the only home she has ever known. With her mama’s silver mirror as her one valued possession, Cora Jean heads down the mountain in search of food, work, and meaning in her life.

As she treks to the lowlands, Cora Jean’s stomach rumbles. Desperate for a job and something to eat, she stops at a farm owned by the Watfords, an older couple she vaguely remembers from her past. After they invite Cora Jean in, Mrs. Watford reveals a secret that changes everything. Suddenly trapped between bad blood forged years earlier in the family and her current needs, Cora Jean is grateful for their hospitality and a job—even as she attempts to absorb the shocking news. But it is not long before Cora Jean meets and falls in love with a young man destined for the ministry, a decision that leads her to discover another family secret, heartbreak, and an unexpected chain of events as World War II breaks out.

Mama’s Mirror is the vivid, inspirational tale of a young woman as she discovers her calling: to bring restoration and healing to her family through God’s loving touch.

Chapter One
Death comes sooner in the mountains. That was my thought as I buried my mama’s body in the unforgiving, hard soil.
From our rocky perch we viewed life down in the low grounds, still lush, while the first signs of killing frost turned our hopes for a full harvest to nothing but shriveled up vines and wasted vegetables.
Girls change faster here too, married off as children to bear children born into a life of back breaking labor and sorrow. Men dying and leaving these babies hungry and alone only to repeat the cycle. Married young to die young, broken and tired.
I counted the graves in front of me. My daddy’s, Jess Harold, my brother’s, Roy Harold, and mama’s, Elizabeth Harold. To the side two more small mounds belonging to twin girls, Charity and Grace Harold. Five graves in all. The old cabin behind me seemed to creak and groan in sympathy, somehow realizing that its last occupant had left, understanding that soon it too would tumble to nothingness, deteriorating into the ground. Pulling my ratty shawl tighter around me I shivered from the cold.
My mama was thirty six when she died. Twenty years of marriage on top of this mountain had left precious little to my mother. A table. Two Stools. A bed. Most everything else of value had been sold years ago. The mountain was a greedy taskmaster, requiring everything from a person in order to give back a measly offering from its soil. Mama’s one remaining item of civility was a silver mirror she kept in a small trunk beside her bed.
“We may be poor, Cora Jean, but we can look ourselves in the mirror and be proud of the person a starin’ back. We’s honest people and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with livin’ hard. It makes a person strong. Ya remember that, Cora Jean,” she’d say. We’d press our faces together so we could see our ragged reflections in the mirror, and mama’s eyes would always shine with a spark of pride, an inner strength that erased any weariness from her. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
Looking at my own face now I saw her same cinnamon colored curls and hazel green eyes, yet there was a hardness she never had. At sixteen I felt older than my years, dried up and withered.
Instinct took over and I threw another chunk of wood into the pot belly stove and began to scrape together a meal of the last remaining food in the house. A watery corn meal gruel was better than nothing, along with a sliver of salt pork that snapped as I fried it in the pan. The food was hot and warmed my stomach, but didn’t completely satisfy it. No matter. Going to bed hungry had become a way of life. Bone tired I slept through the night.
The first rays of sunshine pierced the shabby flour sack curtains that hung limply at the frost coated window. They shifted stiffly in the occasional gust of icy air that seeped in through cracked panes. My skin, cold in the ill heated room, made me wonder if, I too, had died. My eyes opened to reveal my true fate- alone with no food on this frosty morning. It was then I decided my future. I wrapped up mama’s mirror and walked out the door, for there was nothing more to pack, and headed down the mountain.
I suppose I could have weathered the winter. I was strong and healthy, accustomed to hard work. There was always some homestead that needed an extra set of hands that would pay me in food and board. But it was the loneliness that frightened me. The silence in the cabin seemed to swallow me up, choking out my life. Even as mama had laid dying, her raspy shallow breaths were a slight comfort to me. With mama, I knew what I needed to do, what my role was, where I belonged. Apart from this I was nothing to nobody. Now all that remained was this all-consuming mountain that devoured life like I’d seen the wolves do to our chickens, viciously, savagely, all too quickly. Yes, I would go to the low grounds.
I passed several homesteads on my journey down the rocky trail, each one as dilapidated as the other. Homes either empty or near about. Walking down the mountain took a good part of the day. The weather grew warmer, the landscape smoother the further I traveled. By the time my feet touched the dirt road toward town it was well after lunch. The last thing I had eaten had not stayed long with me and my old familiar friend hunger started to gnaw away at my insides. I stopped at the first working farm I came to, the Watford’s place.

Laurie Garner resides in south central Florida with her pastor husband of thirty-four years. They have three children, and one grandchild, Isaac, who has truly brought laughter into their lives.

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