Happy Mother’s Day!
When I grew up in Kentucky, every day was Mother’s Day.
A lot of ink has splattered onto the pages of country music history about my father, Tom T. Hall, and rightfully so. Not only is he a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone magazine named him among the 100 greatest songwriters of all time. But talent and accolades are often mutually exclusive, and my mother was blessed with one and not the other. Today, I’d like to post an homage to my talented mother and personal hero, Opal “Hootie” McKinney.
My mother was born Opal Inez McKinney on March 12, 1926, and raised in Grayson, Kentucky. She was stunningly beautiful, and lovingly known by all in the area as “Hootie.” At the age of 34, she married Tom, who was ten years her junior, on February 16, 1961. Tom left to pursue a career in country music shortly thereafter, and years later married his second wife, Dixie Hall.
Raising a child as a single parent is a difficult task, but my mother made the best of what we had. With the loving support of my grandmother and grandfather (pictured far left and center, respectively), she helped run their general store and trailer park in our hometown of Grayson, Kentucky.
Interstate 64 came through eastern Kentucky in the early 60s, and my mother got a great deal on a few acres of land and an old two-story house. We moved out of the trailer park and into what is now known as a fixer-upper. She spent years working on making that old house a home. I can still smell her homemade 7-cheese lasagna to this day, and my wife still has that recipe in her handwriting.
Besides planting trees, gardening, decorating, and working six days a week, my mother was an amazing artist. She had a natural talent for painting and sculpting. Her art studio was just a corner of our kitchen next to a window. Growing up, every trip to the refrigerator was nothing short of an art show.
Also, she was an amazing inventor. I have legal pads full of inventions and rejection letters from to companies and corporations—many inventions that are in use today.
My mother died on March 10, 1985—just two days short of her 59th birthday, after a long bout with cancer.
These are just a few of the amazing paintings she created over her lifetime. As talented as she was, to me, it will never overshadow her role as a loving mother.
Thanks, Mom, for a wonderful childhood.
Carol and I think of you and miss you every day.