I am so excited to share the inspiration behind the painting entitled “Lemonade Stand”. I am so excited to share the story of this spicy, southern lady...
I have some strong, passionate, tender, fierce girls in my life. You can often, in your best southern drawl proclaim “well...she gets it from her mama”.
Recently one of my best girls lost her mother. It was unexpected. It was shocking. It rocked us all. As chaos settled into the new norm, we took a little road trip, and I asked her to just tell me stories about her mom. There were a ton but this one....this one is my favorite.
My friend's mom (we will call her Mary) grew up in a small town in rural Alabama. Her parents, like so many of their neighbors were cotton farmers. As so often happens, the rest of the family never knew how bad things were financially until it was too late....or so it seemed...
Because of decisions her sister had made, Mary was not allowed to go to college. Instead, she found herself married at the tender age of twenty one. She was in her forties, raising her two young girls, when the ‘white house on the hill’ illusion of her marriage crashed around her. The banker she had been expected to marry announced he was leaving. Mary was suddenly faced a choice: keep the white house, and continue to maintain the life she knew as long as she could sustain it, or start over with the hand full of rental properties they had acquired over the years. She packed her little girls into the family car and set out to make a new life her own way. They would move into one of the rental houses and live off the rent from the others.
As she walked away from the life built for her, she proclaimed to her ex-husband: “one day you will see me walking down this street and you’ll say ‘I once knew that lady”. With that, she set her mind to become one of the top realtors in Alabama.
She was a few years into learning the struggle and value of real estate, when her father revealed that the family farm was facing imminent foreclosure. As other members accepted the inevitable, Mary marched herself into the bank. Sitting across from the lender she had worked so hard to establish a business reputation with, she asked for the moon. She explained the situation and with steely determination laid out her request. After much finagling, the next morning, her friend Charla drove her to the Court House steps in her little red car.
Standing amidst a crowd of men who were eager to bid on prime real estate at bottom market value, she waited on her parents farm to come up for auction. As everyone quieted down to start the opening bid, she boldly stepped forward with the letter from the bank. Then with head held high, she confidently marched back to Charla’s car. “Mary! you’re white as a ghost!” She looked at her dear friend with wide eyes and breathed “I did it. I actually did it”.
They never planted cotton on the farm again. Instead they invested in cattle. It is still a working cattle farm to this day, now run by her equally strong and unstoppable daughters.
Here’s to all the women who have refused to be railroaded by the good ol' boys club. Here’s to the women who squeezed all the life out of the lemons they were handed, added some sweet southern charm, and made themselves some lemonade.