Senior Spotlight 4/17
“There’s always a ram in the bush!” This is something my mother has said again and again, and the older I get the more I realize how true it is. It is also a truth about her life—an amazing, lively and energetic life. Th e truth is, my mother can be so funny, and she uses humor to make people feel welcome and to teach some of the salient truths in life. But her humor is part of what makes her the unique, outspoken, and remarkable woman that she is. When momma laughs, you know it can’t be all bad.
I am so blessed and honored to shine a spotlight on my mother, Eva Kennedy Armstrong. Th e world deserves to know a bit about this phenomenal woman that I have the privilege to call my “momma.” My mother was the fifteenth out of sixteen children born to Mood and Ebenezer Kennedy in Ridgeway, South Carolina. She was born during the time of the Great Depression when gas was only 20 cents a gallon. She experienced sharecropping and picking cotton first hand. Mom’s childhood wasn’t always easy but she grew up in a family of love and faith and laughter. She attended Fairfield High School and later graduated and married the love her life, Hawthorne “H. T.” Armstrong. Th ey rearedseven children and were married 55 years before his passing in 2005. Today, “momma” presides over a family of 14 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.
During the many and inevitable losses and disappointments that life has brought her, my mom has always found a way to push through and carry on. Even though she suff ered the loss of her husband and one of her children, she hasn’t let her life experiences keep her down. Momma is a strong black woman whose motto is “What won’t kill me, will only make me stronger.”
She’s a very out-spoken kind of woman, and that is one of the characteristics I love most about her. In the early 60’s when many African Americans weren’t hired to work at the Uniroyal Textile Mill, my mom was one of the first black women hired and she went on to help get more blacks hired. With her out spoken mind and courage, she broke through racial barriers with amazing poise and grace. She was with Uniroyal for over 25 years before she retired. She is never afraid to speak her mind, and has certainly become one of the most respected elderly members of Fairfield County. Even at her age, she is still very involved in her community. She still participates in functions with her Alumni and her Class of 1949 and still attends monthly meetings. She has helped with renovations and decorations of her historical high school. She attends St. Mark Baptist Church in Ridgeway, South Carolina, where, for years, she was actively involved with the Pastoral Care Ministry.
She is my hero and my number one supporter in life. Momma offers invaluable wisdom and advice when I need it most and sometimes even when I don’t realize I need it. I can’t think of anything she wouldn’t do if it is to benefit her family. She has a loving heart and will give the clothes off her back for someone else in need. My momma has taught me to strive for whatever it is that I want, but with wanting some- thing comes a price. She has shown me that if I want to make it in this life, I have to give it my all. My momma has always been there for me. I am so blessed and grateful for her unconditional love and support. When I made good or sometimes very bad decisions, she still supported me. I am so thankful for her wisdom, direction and guidance throughout the years.
By far the most important value that my mother has instilled in me is to always be faithful, particularly to God. Even during the hardest times, I could see that she never once gave up on her faith. In fact, I know that it is this faith that has gotten her through every twist and turn of life thus far. Not only is she faithful to God, but to everyone around her, as well. She doesn’t give up on anyone, and for that I will always commend her.
If you take anything away from this, think about your own mother or someone who has “mothered” you in your nlife. We must never take for granted the wonderful people in our lives, because without them, there’s no way we would be where we are today. I know for a fact that if I become half the woman that my mother is, then I would have accomplished something signifi cant. Her legacy will be felt for generations to come.