The Women I Come From *Updated to Add Lyrics*

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day without my mom. It was also her birthday. Mama would have been 97 if she had just made it a few short weeks longer, although to be honest, she was never all that big on celebrating her birthday, anyway… She just liked the fact that we all got together for it, and of course we all liked the fact that there was cake involved!

It was a bittersweet day, with an emphasis on the ‘sweet.’ It was also my first Mother’s Day as a full-fledged resident of Bell Buckle, and it started with a 7:30 a.m. walk around town all by myself. It was a sleepy Sunday morning, and with the exception of a couple of cars and a stray dog or two, I appeared to be the only one out and about. I am still firmly in the honeymoon phase of our move, and just about every single thing in my new little hometown enchants me. I carried my coffee mug with me on my walk, and sipped and strolled and peered in the dark windows of the shops on the Square, stopping to pet the gray cat that followed me down the street. She has officially taken up residence on the OUTSIDE of our new house, earning herself the name “Porch Cat.” I am mightily allergic, and not happy about all the hair she sheds all over my wicker cushions, but Porch Cat will not be deterred– which thrills my cat-deprived Charlotte to no end. Anyway, PC headed back up the street to shed some more, and I continued on, winding around the neighborhood, listening to the birds and the train that comes through about 5 times a day. It is my new favorite sound in the world, and I have to respectfully disagree with Johnny Cash on this one point–a train whistle is not  at all lonesome, to me it’s actually downright cozy!

In the afternoon, the four of us walked down to the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall, where we were treated to an absolutely delicious Mother’s Day buffet by the owner, our new friend and neighbor J. Gregory Heinike. He also owns the Bell Buckle Cafe and Bell Buckle Records, home to one of Madi Rose’s favorite bluegrass singers, Valerie Smith (who apparently lives right around the corner from us, though we haven’t spied her yet despite a couple of sloooow drive-bys…) It was such a sweet way to welcome us to town, and we appreciate his hospitality so much.

I thought of Mom so often yesterday, and Daddy, too. They would love this all so much! I can just hear Mom exclaiming over the jaw-droppingly gorgeous and HUGE willow oak tree about a half a block from our front porch, that has to be over 200 years old if it’s a day. And Daddy would have been in heaven at that buffet yesterday– I could just picture him tucking into a heaping plate of his favorite prime rib with a big smile on his face and an eye towards the dessert table, which was crowded with blackberry cobbler, a brownie sundae bar and three-layer strawberry cake. That’s the thing about being so close to my parents, and having them both live to such wonderfully ripe old ages– I know them so well, I know how much this would all delight them. It makes me miss them even more, but it also makes me smile to be able to picture their reactions, and that comforts me. And besides, to paraphrase something I heard Garrison Keillor say on the Prairie Home Companion Show the other day, “Being a 56 year-old orphan doesn’t garner all that much sympathy.”

I thought of something else a lot yesterday, too. Years ago, my sweetest friend Bonnie Keen and I wrote a song together called “These Are The Women I Come From.” It was a tribute to all of the strong women in our lives that shaped and inspired us, and it was recorded on a project called “Sisters- Songs of Friendship, Joy and Encouragement for Women” that was released in 1994. I haven’t listened to it in a long time, but recently the lyrics came flooding back to me and I actually printed them out to read at Mama’s funeral. Coincidentally, Bill Gaither called me a couple of weeks after that to say he wanted to use the song in an upcoming video shoot, which was a nice surprise. And then today I just happened to come across this amazing YouTube clip of last year’s Mother’s Day service at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ. They used our song along with a narration that Gloria Gaither did at the front of it, to honor their own Church Mothers in such a beautiful presentation– granted, I was already feeling a little tender, but this reduced me to trembly-chin-hiccupy-tears!

Wanted to share it with you guys. I thought their ending was especially moving– (and it’s REALLY better if you click the whole-screen button, too.)

Hope your Mother’s Day was full of good food, good memories and a couple of smiling-through-tears moments, too.


(The lyrics, as requested!)

These Are the Women We Come From

 They are faces in photographs, heads all held high
Not afraid to look life in the eye
They were women with backbone, keepers of the flame
With a spirit even hard times couldn’t tame
And I know that this same blood is in me
And I meet their gaze one by bone
Eyes strong and clear, I still feel them near
These are the women I come from
The faith that sustained them is bred in my bones
I know what I’m made of, and where I belong
‘Cause these are the women I come from
What did life bring them, what pain did they know
Stories the pictures didn’t show
They were lovers of babies and lovers of God
With lessons and laughter in their songs
Did they dream better dreams for their children
As they prayed silent prayers in the night
“Lord make their way clear, and always be near”
Now I have my own child beside me
And we gaze at them all one by one
Her eyes strong and clear, I draw her near and say
These are the women you come from
The faith that sustained them is bred in your bones
You’ll know what you’re made of and where you belong–
‘Cause these are the women, survivors each one
They aren’t always easy, but were loving and strong
The life force inside them is still going on
‘Cause these are the women we come from

15 Responses

  1. Cynthia

    You’re back!! We’ve missed your smiling words, I say words because we can’t see your face, but you always bring joy; and a laugh or two.
    I’m a cat person; so if Porch Cat gets to be too much, you can always send her to me.

    Last year was my “Honeymoon” stage in being back home after my stay in the St. Louis area, this year Mother’s Day was quiet; we were given Roses, and a special blessing @ church. I didn’t hear from my daughter; or grandchildren, but I had a blessed day nonetheless, Mom was w/ me; our imagination mixed w/ memories can @ times be a very fertile place to “Play” for a few hours.

    So glad to hear that you love the area as much as you’d hoped, I believe the Lord has planted you in very rich soil, so I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    Have a great week,

  2. DonnaMariePatterson

    That was beautiful, Tori. Thanks for sharing it with us. I thought about you yesterday. I’m so thankful that we’ll see our moms again one day.

  3. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Bill Gaither may use this and we all will be again blessed when we see and hear it as he will beautifully produce it….but it won’t be with any more beauty or depth of celebrating women from our past than I just witnessed by the First Baptist Church.

    Makes my heart do a happy dance visualizing my little Taff family residng in Bell Buckle now.

  4. bettyrwoodward

    Welcome back. Glad you are settling in well. Our Mothers day is in March for didn’t celebrate this weekend. I love cats as well but this is a bit far for you to bring it!

  5. Gramma Jac

    Beautiful!! I am so blessed to still have come from some pretty awesome women also–and to still have my Gramma!

    I don’t remember if I wrote this here–sorry if I’m being repetitive: we had an incredible 90th birthday party/family reunion. Great time, great photos. We were all pretty darn proud! My daughter was visiting my Gramma one day and Gramma leans in and says “If I live to be 95,…no more parties!!” The matriarch has spoken!!

    I tried to find the lyrics to this song–can you post them? Thank you so much for sharing this performance!

  6. jonny

    Thanks for the up-dating and sharing = )

  7. LindaB

    You have jumped right into the country life from the big city! And what’s next? A bearded Russ shooting ducks from your front porch and a reality show called “Taff Dynasty”? (Wait a minute. Shooting ducks? I forgot who I was talking to. Adopting ducks is more like it.) Aren’t you going to miss the exciting Nashville life? How far are you from Music City anyway?

    Love the song! I can identify totally.

    I am intrigued by the Bell Buckle Cafe and “RECORDS”! You’re kiddin’ me? They cook and record too? So when someone says that song is “cookin'”, they really mean it? More info please! I HAVE to eat there someday!

  8. LindaB

    Love to see more pictures of the new digs! What color scheme are you using throughout? Did you have to paint before you moved in? How big is your yard? Have a garden? What day is garbage day? (LOL—-I get carried away sometimes.)

  9. Gramma Jac

    Thanks for the lyrics!!! “Ask and ye shall receive!!”

  10. Phyllis S

    So glad to know that you are enjoying BB, I know the ice cream parlor will soon be open. PLEASE eat one for me!

    We are so thankful for the memories that God has given us, but the loss is still with us.

    Tori, the you tube video was spectacular! I wish more churches (our’s included) would do more dancing. The feeling, the mood and the kids in this was tops. Thanks for sharing.

    Linda, I think we should get Mommalloyd to do some dancing for us, talk about feelings!

  11. Barbara M. Lloyd

    I’m ready to dance, sweet Phyllis. You may want to charge admission…we could donate it to the purchase of a tractor for Russ.

    Okay, Tori, we are anxious to see what you have done in your new home. If you haven’t finished, well….we could call the first pictures “The Before Pictures”….then when you are finished, you could send “The After Pictures”. Then, there could be “The Christmas Pictures” and we could go on and on with this longed-for project.

    We’d also like to know how my singing hero is feeling by now….and how excited the girls were when they came home to country living? Oh my goodness, and how the puppies are enjoying the freedom of farm living? And, sweetheart, don’t forget to include how you are holding up, too.

    I’m a little concerned that the reason we haven’t heard anything from you is: too many mint julips sitting in rockers on that porch.

    I bet you have our grand old flag up and blowing freely in the breeze today! I can see it now…..

  12. Barbara M. Lloyd

    You know, friends, Tori would want us to keep the home fires going while she is busy building her new nest.

    Betty W, I understand that you didn’t get to see Tori when you went to Family Fest. That tells me Tori is extremely busy because she rarely misses being there and even lingering afterwards with the family for a time. I know she is disappointed she didn’t get to spend time with you.

    Gracious, Phyllis, in my day I could dance about anything. Now…”the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

    Since Russ is back out on the road singing, we know he is doing well. But, let’s not stop praying for Russ and his three girls and their ministries.

    I’m sure Mothers’ Day was tough for Tori…and Fathers’ Day won’t be any easier. But, oh, how thankful we all are for the years we had and the precious memories we shared.

  13. kidpyramid

    Now what did you have to go and do that for? Beautiful and so touching. Thank you for sharing.

  14. broupp

    I love this song. I played this for my cousin that I lead worship with my cousin at a very small country church and made her cry, she had never heard this song and we’ve had some incredible women in our family and we really want to do this song to honor the women that have impacted the members of our congregation, but I can’t find the chords to the song. Could you help us, please?

  15. HeartVisions

    Dear Tori, I can’t believe I found this site. I’ve always wanted to have an opportunity to ‘thank you’ and all the women involved with the two CDs, ‘Sisters’ and ‘Always Sisters/Always Friends.’ I can’t tell you how much it blessed me when I found them during a very dark period in my life. Every song on both CDs reflected the lives of my 7 sisters’ lives and my Mom’s 7 sisters’ lives, as I’m sure it did for every women listening to the lyrics. I sat many nights with my headsets on listening over and over. They really helped me to heal. I came to Christ, or as some would say, I was saved or born-again, I say I was ‘rescued’ because I literally was. I moved away from home and everyone I knew in my small hometown when I went away to college at 17 years old. I’m turning 65 in a few weeks (YIKES)and, although I went back home a lot through the years and was very close to my family, I never returned there to live. It was when I took a stand (finally)in September of 1996 that I became the family enemy. What I did was the right thing to do, LONG overdue, but it was a very painful process for me to see it. I went from the ‘darling’ of the family, you know the one who never forgets anyone’s birthday, anniversary, gift giving, Christmas, etc., to the family enemy with just one 15 page document & a copy of a book called, “The Right to Innocence” to 50 members of my family. It was after this event that I found these 2 CDs and your song, “These Are the Women I Come From.” I was the 7th daughter, so my 6 older sisters were my ‘Gods’ in many ways. They were the ‘Christians’ and I was but a lowly heathen career woman, out here doing my thing at the time, and not paying much attention to my spiritual life. I grew up in church, but at 16 years of age I announced to my Mother one Sunday morning that I knew everything I needed to know about God and I would get back to Him when I was done sinning. LOL (My poor Mother!) While they were praying; I was educating myself on the subject. The more they prayed, the more I learned. The more I learned, the more I knew I had to act since they seemed incapable of it. Many positive things happened during the 5 years after I dropped the emotional bomb on my family, or as my family would refer to ‘The Letter’ but those 5 years were hell. I know this is long, and you probably will never see it, but I’ve been wanting to say it for years. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Many blessings to you and all the women of Sisters’ CDs.

    Evie (not ‘that’ Christian singer, the other one!) LOL

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