For Lora Lee Parrott – From A. Leslie Parrott
Several months before my father, A. Leslie Parrott, passed away, he sent me a tribute he had written to my mother, Lora Lee Parrott. Dad had written the tribute many years earlier (1991). He wanted me to share his words at the time of mom’s death.
Richard Leslie Parrott
A TRIBUTE TO LORA LEE
By A. Leslie Parrott
Lora Lee Montgomery grew up in an era when your women were taught to be he keepers of the home fires, to be hard workers who offered their families a clean house, who excelled in the kitchen, raised well-mannered children, and served their husband’s vocational purposes.
When Lora Lee traded Montgomery for Parrott without even a hyphen, someone sent my grandmother who lived on a hillside farm in East Tennessee her engagement photograph. After studying the picture, her response was, “she looks like a good worker.”
And my grandmother was right. Lora Lee has always been a high-energy person. Most of the time she gets up before I do, following the dawn with her first cup of coffee served to herself by herself in the bedroom. She has demonstrated her belief in the Protestant work ethic. She helped put me through graduate school by owning and operating three candy shops located in separate towns. And what did she sell? “Lora Lee’s Famous Candies,” of course. After the children came she turned her energies toward matters which were important to the home and family. Kitchen arts, childcare, and a well-kept house became high priorities.
Lora Lee also grew up in an era when the woman outside her home was mainly for decoration and support, while her husband marched onward and upward achieving whatever valiant things there were that needed to be achieved.
But in our family it was soon evident that no house could contain her. Lora Lee was never intended to live or speak in the passive voice. She was neither a wallflower or a homebody. She was a doer, a self-starter, and self-sustaining woman with a kind of Dutch-treat relationship with life.
During a Faculty/Staff Christmas Tea a few years ago, I saw a lady lean toward Lora Lee’s ear, and with a thumb raised in my direction, clearly say, “You don’t need him to be somebody.”
Lora Lee is resilient but she’s also vulnerable. She doesn’t suffer over being omitted but she is hurt and angered at being misunderstood or misread. Before society defined the terms, she was her own person, not a feminist but proud to be a woman.
Church boards and trustees have always liked her because she liked them. She has not spent her life jousting noisily with invisible foes. When she doesn’t like someone, she never yells, but she stays compulsively out of their way. And how they interpret that is their business.
Lora Lee is too identifiable to qualify as every woman’s woman. She inspires some and exhausts others. Her image is too visible. Her edges are too clean cut and she’s never majored in catering to any personal suffering, real or imagined. She grew up in the home of a District Superintendent she loved life in the parsonage, and after some initial adjustments has thrived on campus living. We don’t always know what to do with her but we’ve all learned not to ignore the fact that she is.
It is a fact of human record that we envy those who have been able to create a tangible legacy as we as a bank of memories for those who knew and loved them. In this regard Lora Lee has excelled. Since I have spent a great portion of my life on the road, or more accurately, in the air, their mother gets the credit for raising good boys to be young men with Christian values, with good educations, who are now serving the public good in Christ’s name. Her book, HOW TO BE A PREACHER’S WIFE AND LIKE IT, was cited by the American Library Association and recommended to their librarians. Her cookbook, MEALS FROM THE MANSE, was on the market for more than 20 years. It prompted an article in a national magazine, the Ladies Home Journal, and an endorsement of Lawry’s seasoning salt. Her more recent cookbook, SUNDAY DINNER, continues to do well since it’s publication more than a decade ago.
Lora Lee Parrott has the cultural and spiritual sail where her Indiana roots run deep. She is equally comfortable among small-town types, or those people who enjoy the city, and those who have triumphed in that difficult-to-describe terrain where people live who have escaped their roots. Lora Lee is a noble woman, mistress of her own philosophy: Anything can be done, but not everything.
Dad has captured the spirit of my mother; together they captured the spirit of a joyful and productive life. This verse describes my parents: “(They are) like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever (they do) prospers” (Psalm 1:3).
Mom passed away before dawn on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. She was 87 years of age.