With brilliant but subtle understatement, Ludie’s Life celebrates the long years of a woman who survives poverty, disappointments and hardship, carving out a niche of home and family that that is distinctly American in flavor.
Although born in Alabama, Ludie spends most of her years in West Virginia, coming of age with America. Deprived of a mother as a young girl, Ludie is uncomfortable with a new stepmother in her father’s home:
“Ludie’s life was happy and sad…Her aspirations simple - marriage, home, family, hard work and peace of mind – Ludie is haunted by lack, never forgetting the humiliation of stealing scraps from the dinner table, avoiding those who live in excess, content in the company of her West Virginia coal miner husband and her six children: “Poverty is hardest on those intelligent enough to understand it.”
There was no thought
to what work
she might do in her life…
Not when you’re stealing food
off your own supper table.”
Ludie moves quietly through the years, never asking much in an uneventful yet proud passage, adapting, caring for the children who call her “mother” instead of “mama”. A godly woman with the core values of a simple existence, Ludie is the American woman of the 20th century:
“Ludie had seen too much of lifeThe stages of life follow, an evolving society reflected in Ludie’s family, her children and grandchildren, the second half of the century defined by the assassination of a president and an unpopular war. Yet Ludie remains resolute. She never once stands before the awesome beauty of the ocean, although her children do: “No mountain child ever finds words for an ocean”; her resistance is prompted by a history of poverty:
to waste any time
telling others how to live.”
“The ocean is freeShe passes quietly one day “in a small narrow bed in a nursing home” at the age of ninety-five, her legacy the grieving children and grandchildren who have been comforted by the stolid presence of a woman in tune with her century.
a luxury everyone can afford,
but Ludie learned early on
that there is a price for everything.”