Recently, on Facebook, the question was posited: “In your Next Life will you still want your mother to be your mother again?”

Fortunately, most people will be able to, unhesitatingly, answer “YES!”

I wish the question didn’t cause me to hesitate. But there it is.

I’ll just relate, that after my father went overseas to fight in World War II, my mother put my brother, age 4, and me, age 2, into a boarding home and went off to Hartford, Connecticut, for the big city life. (I have only a snippet of being at the boarding home, sitting in a high chair crying for a doughnut. I still love homemade doughnuts.)

I now have letters that Daddy wrote from overseas pleading with my mother to take us to his parents’ farm, The Tucker Farm in Webster Plantation up north. After a few months, she did let my brother go to live with Grampa Roy and Grammie Mable. Then the summer I was 3, she took me there, too. That day is firmly planted in my mind. I wore a little white dress, white socks, white patent leather shoes and white bows in my hair.

As the car door opened, my Grampa Roy, who at 65 still stood tall and straight, hurried over and swooped me up. I felt loved. I felt safe.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, right, with her brother and Grampa Roy. Photo courtesy of Marion Tucker-Honeycutt

My brother came over, put his arm around my shoulder, patted me and said: “My little sister. My own little sister.” He took me all over  the farm to show me everything; the cows, the barn, the hen house and hens — and his arm never left my shoulder. I was home. These two “men” were to be my heroes, the two who never wavered in their love and support of me. They were my anchor to sanity for all the years to come.

Ten years later, we kids were taken off the farm by my mother. She had first tried to kidnap us from school, but my brother grabbed me as I was about to get in the car to have a piece of candy from the big glass jar of brightly colored sweets mother was offering along with a ride in the big car. Daddy was still overseas. My brother rushed me back into the schoolhouse, and my mother and her new husband took off.

The snatch scheme failing, she then went to court in Bangor for custody. She told the judge she had remarried and that her husband had a good job and they had a home on Cape Cod for us. The judge, looking at my then 75-year-old grandparents from their farm up in the North Woods, decided for mother and we were taken from court and put into the big car.

Our first stop was at my Aunt Priscilla’s in Belfast. I had cried and sniffled all the way as my brother sat, unmoving and stoic. The next few years I shall probably never write much about. Suffice it to say that the house turned out to be a cottage they had rented for a week. We rambled around New Hampshire and Massachusetts until he found a job. (Although he was always losing his jobs, he was, as a stepfather, good to us kids. This helped, as mother was also an alcoholic. She did lick that some years later, to her credit.)

In the next five years, we little country bumpkins went to 12 different schools as we were constantly moving when he looked for job after job. Fortunately, academically, we were a full year ahead, so we didn’t fall behind. Indeed, the first schools wanted to skip us a year, and they did skip my brother but decided as I was small for my age and “country-shy,” it wouldn’t be good to put me up a grade. (Our schooling up on the Ridge was the result of good old one-room school — 18 kids in sub-primary through eighth grade — with one teacher, in the days of a real education.)

Those 10 years on the farm with my grandparents and my big brother gave me the foundation to make it through the years to come. From the love and values I learned from the Tuckers, I knew there were good and kind people.

Grampa Roy and my big brother were my heroes, ever stalwart, my anchors to sanity.

My mother split from my stepfather when I was 14 and we kids were on our own as mother took off for the big city again, this time Boston. We found jobs working for our room and board. After ninth grade, I came up to Belfast and dug my feet in to stay in the same school until I graduated. I had another “room and board” job with a really nice family and two sweet young boys.

A bit before graduation, I had come across an article about the famous Chicago Art School. I had been drawing all my life and wanted to be an artist, so I sent in some work to the school and got accepted with a scholarship. But I didn’t have to price of a bus ticket, let alone rent and the rest. (Those were the days when “women’s jobs” paid about a third of men’s.) And I had no family backup.

The years went by, and I had more good opportunities, some I couldn’t take and some I wouldn’t because I had my kids and I was not going to take them to big cities. My mother once called and said I should put them in boarding homes. I think I hung up on her.

I lived all over the country. Good times and not-so-good. And my children. How blessed I am as a mother.

Finally, 42 years ago, living in California, I turned my big old Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, with one of my sons, age 18, and my little girl, age 5, east and ended up back in Belfast. (And I am sure grateful I left California. The writing was on the wall even 42 years ago.)

Over the years, all but my third son, who works at Kennedy Space Center, and my dear youngest son whom I lost two years ago, have ended up here. They all have families, kids and grandkids, and homes surrounding mine like spokes on a wagon wheel, just a few minutes away.  And I’m still holding out the hope that when my Florida son and his wife retire, they’ll become Mainiacs, too.

And here I sit, in my little house in the forest, in my home state, a blessed old lady, exactly where I was meant to be and with the exact wonderful kids, 13 grandkids (and their spouses) and 13 great-grandkids that I was supposed to have.

So looking back, I would be afraid to have anyone or choice in my life changed, for good or ill, that could’ve resulted in things going off in totally different directions. I am where I am and loving it.

Oh, and as for my art. I’m primarily a portrait artist and, although I lost out on the Chicago Art School, I had some great opportunities and teachers. When I lived in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, there was a great group of national and internationally known artists living there, including Norman Rockwell.

I studied pastels under William Schultz, and watercolor under Paul E. Decker. I exhibited in several shows and festivals and received invaluable critiquing and encouragement from Norman Rockwell (he gave me his studio phone number to call whenever I had a question), Norman Kent (then editor of American Artist) and Robert Brackman.

I then moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, the famous artist colony in California. I exhibited there, in Monterey, Cannery Row and at the famous Sabido & Domingo in Santa Barbara. My work also hung in the Dewey Gallery in Salt Lake City.

I then moved back home t’Maine and have had several “one-man shows” in the Down East area, including the Samoset Resort in Rockport and the Parks Gallery in Bangor. I had a “studio” on eBay selling miniatures, featuring “Instant ancestors” and reproductions of Old Masters. My works ended up in collections across the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, Canada and Europe. I was also invited by eBay to conduct a live online workshop on the discipline of painting miniatures.

I have done invitational exhibits and demonstrations at the UMaine Hutchinson Center here and at the Blue Hill Fair.

I sent some of my work to the prestigious Hillard Society of Miniaturists in England, was accepted as an “exhibiting member” and exhibited there in Wells and in Taunton Castle.

So, in the end, I had my art after all.

My bottom line on “In your Next Life will you still want your mother to be your mother again?“ My answer: “If that’s what it took to get where I am now and with the people I have in my family, including all their wonderful spouses, oh yes.”

However, as to the “in your Next Life” bit, I refuse to believe in a God that would send us back for a do-over here. Besides, we’d be a different person, with a different family.  I’m counting on having my family join me on the other side.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now living in Morrill. Her column appears in this paper every other week.