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July 04, 2022

Pope writes winning essay in Mother of the Year contest

VISITING MOM — Above, Marquita H. Pope (center) and her brother, Michael Harrison, visit their mother, Vickie (right), via a window at her assisted living facility, due to COVID-19. Pope wrote the winning Mother of the Year entry in The Times essay contest.



For Marquita Harrison Pope, 56, of Bethlehem, and her brother, Michael Harrison, 59, of the Liledoun Community, Mother’s Day is a definite time of celebration, but it is also bittersweet, as Marquita related in her essay in the 2020 Times’ Mother of the Year Essay Contest.

You see, like so many adult children today, Marquita and Michael cannot visit their mother, Vickie, except through a window, because Vickie is in an assisted living facility. They cannot share hugs and kisses through the cold glass pane, they can only stare longingly, smile, and press their hands to the window and perhaps talk by telephone while doing so.

But they concentrate on the good times they can have during these days of COVID-19 — the good times of years past and making good memories of today’s situation.

“We grew up in Bethlehem, around Fairfield Acres on Richey Road,” said Marquita in a phone interview. “We would ride our bikes around the neighborhood, go to ballgames at Bethlehem Recreation Center, and go catching frogs.”

Marquita and Michael, who also joined the phone interview, fondly recall camping trips they took with their mother and father, Johnny, decades ago.

The family attended Sandy Ridge Baptist in Hickory and Marquita and Michael remember pastors Rev. Harvey Byrd and Rev. Home Greene there.

“Mom didn’t have the best childhood,” Michael said. “She wanted us to do everything and have everything she didn’t have when she was growing up. She had a strong nesting instinct and wanted her family life to be idyllic.”

Marquita loved to go to the mall with her mom on Saturdays to shop for clothes. Vickie took Marquita to dance lessons, too.

Of course, there was a bit of sibling rivalry in their youth. “I always thought Michael was Momma’s favorite, and he always thought I was Daddy’s favorite,” said Marquita.
“And we were both right,” Michael laughed.

The family liked to go places. They would take trips to the beach or mountains on some weekends.

“Mom’s first love, after God and family, is travel,” Michael noted. “She always loved to go somewhere she’s never been.”

Vickie has traveled all over the world — 48 of the 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as to Canada, all over England and Europe, and even to China.

“She has a severe case of wanderlust. She was bitten by the bug and has a restless spirit,” said Michael. He, too, inherited that wanderlust from Vickie, while Marquita admittedly prefers staying closer to home. If she travels, she prefers by car instead of flying.

Marquita and Michael cherish the time they have with their mother, who turned 80 recently. Their parents loved to dance, and it was 27 years ago last month that their father died doing something he loved. He suffered a brain aneurysm on April 22, 1993, at age 55 while dancing with Vickie.

Both children are glad their mother has a wonderful roommate at Taylorsville House, Ruby Collins. Vickie and Ruby have a positive nature and complement each other with their strengths. “We pray for Ruby every day because we don’t want Mom to be without her,” Marquita stated.

Michael and wife, Ginny, reside in the Liledoun Community, while Marquita and husband, Phillip, live in Bethlehem.

“Taylorsville and Alexander County are fortunate to have a facility like Taylorsville House and have it where it’s located,” Michael said.

Despite this pandemic, and the upheaval it is causing, mothers will still be regarded in high esteem, even though some children and mothers must be separated by glass, just as they were in a hospital nursery many years before.

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