9.20 a.m. It hasn't been too long since we left Mabry Mill and we have just seen our first deer. There were at least half a dozen of them crossing the road ahead of us. I managed to gather my wits long enough, thanks to Gregg's encouragement to get the camera and was in time to take at least one photo of a deer, who stood at the side studying us as much as we were studying it. Then it decided to join the family and disappeared into the woods. We are on the Blue Ridge Parkway heading south.
Regardless of weather, "Aunt" Orelena went wherever and whenever called. Sometimes on horesback, often walking, the midwife brought assurance and kindness to all she visited. When she began her practice around 1890 her fee was one dollar, and "when times was good" six dollars. Often receiving food and other goods in lieu of money, she generously shared all she had with her neighbors or those in need. Today, Orelena Puckett is remembered in this area for her witty, cheerful personality, as well as for her unselfish and skillful practice as a midwife."
When Orelena was in her 50s a neighbor went into labor and no doctor could be found. This began her career as a midwife, and for the next nearly fifty years, she traveled the Virginia countryside and became known for her compassion and skill. She delivered her last baby at the age of 94, and passed away in 1939. That last baby's name was Maxwell Hawks on August 30th, 1938.
The Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute in Asheville, North Carolina continues her legacy to care for mother and child. They promote and try to strengthen the development of child, parents and family.
Her story has been dramatized in Phyllis Smith's play, "They Call Me Aunt Orlean", which is performed at the cabin several times a year, and in Karen Cecil Smith's book, "Orlean Puckett: The Life of a Mountain Midwife." You can see that her name is spelled differently. Not really sure why. I would like to find a copy of this lady's book.
When we left we were very glad to have come across this place and learn about this amazing lady. Bittersweet to have lost so many of her own babies, and yet to have delivered over a 1000 others. I can't imagine anyone having 24 babies and losing them all. Why so many after so many heartbreaks? Different times for sure. I'd be interested in what you think out there.