“I had the best husband,” Shirley joyfully says.
“One night after church, a boy asked me if I would marry him.” He was 17, she was 15. “I said that I would have to ask my momma.” She was surprised to learn that he had already talked to her mother. Without transportation, a friend took them to the courthouse. The courthouse marriage lasted 68 years.
Shirley relishes sharing that she married at 15 and what they accomplished during their years together. They raised nine children: nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews.
“I was one of 13 children. I come from a big family, and family takes care of each other. So that is what I did.” Shirley recounts the early death of a sister and raising her four boys. Later, she took in the children of other members of the family who were abandoned or orphaned due to drugs.
At the age of 87, she is raising three children, ages 15, 8, and 6, alone since the death of her husband over a year ago.
“I have had a good life. God has been good to me. I try to be good to others.”
Some may say that Shirley knows the “weight of the world” in raising three children by herself and at her present age. She will beg to differ. “They bring joy to my life, and I would not have it any other way. We get to live many lives.”
A Place to Stay’s support of the quarterly SOS gatherings provides a place for Shirley and others to find the resources to meet the challenges of raising children on a limited income.