My Godmother, Susie Carson, is absolutely the most amazing woman I have ever known. Before it was accepted to be divorced and raise a child on her own, Susie did it. Born in BrunswickCounty, NC, in 1920, Susie fell in love and married a soldier during WWII. When she became pregnant, she decided to come home to NC to have her baby and moved in with her parents. Sometime in the intervening months, Susie's husband found female companionship in DC and they eventually became separated. He did (folowing the bullying of Susie's sister Thelma) arrive in NC in time to appear at her daughter Kathryn's birth the first week of January of 1947. Apparently, fatherhood was not high on his list of things to do and Mr. Carson moved on to other pastures. I don't believe I ever met him and Kathryn only met him after she became an adult. Susie, however, carried on with her life as if it were the most natural thing in the world for a woman alone to raise a child by herself. She had been to secretarial school and become a whiz at Gregg Shorthand. She got a job as legal secretary to Mr. S.Bunn Frink, the premier attorney in Brunswick County. In later years, after Mr. Frink's retirement, she became legal assistant to Mr. E. J. Prevatte. In the 1950's world of the South, she became a pillar of the community and a corner-stone of the local Baptist Church. When she wanted to buy a home of her own, she braved disapproval of both church and town and got a divorce. That was something no one did in the 1950s South. Susie did it and got her house loan, too. She had her own bank account (women were usually given signage rights on their husband's account). She never did learn to shoot a gun or drive a car but she did everything else on her own. Her daughter graduated from high school with honors, went to college and got a master's degree. She is working on her 30 years at a University in Maryland. When Susie's father died, her mother moved in with her and Kathryn. Susie worked to take care of them all. She never accepted charity or a handout. She never had to go on welfare. Her family was always together at meals and when they went to church. In her later years, Susie (who had never gone to college herself) became well known as a local historian. She began to write books about Southport and Brunswick County NC that have now been sold to people all over the world. She was honored with a degree from the local community college and even began to teach geneaology courses at that college. She retired and began to spend her free time giving lectures and teaching classes. She was a local celebrity and loved every minute of recognition. She began to post her newspaper pictures and articles about her on her "wall of fame". The Wilmington Star News newspaper asked her to write a column on Brunswick County history and it made her State and world famous. She received letters, phone calls and visitors from all over and was always answering history questions or helping someone with their geneaology.
After being a breast cancer survivor for many years, Susie had "forgotten" she had been unwell. In the spring of 2007, the cancer returned . The doctors have given her a "few weeks" to live several times now. She has been completely bedridden for over a month and has never lost her will to live or her dry sense of humor. The past year has wrought more than a change in Susie's physical condition. Once about 170 pounds and large framed, she is a tiny, frail little bird of a woman who can get lost in the bed clothes. But the biggest change is that she has learned to express her love for life and for those around her. Being raised in the time when no one said "I love you" unless they were also asking someone to get married, Susie now tells her visitors that she appreciates every little kindness and visit, and those of us who are family and close friends have heard the "I love you" words from her lips on a regular basis. The medical community is baffled. They thought she would never see last Christmas. We worried she might not reach her 88th birthday. She has fooled us all and continues to do so on a daily basis. She is still doing everything her own way and will leave this earth not until she is good and ready. She is, indeed, the most remarkable woman I have ever known.