Time has a way of drawing people home. Recently, Patricia (Pat) Forbes Wayt drove on the Mills Home campus and felt like she had come home.
“I came to Thomasville in 1950,” Pat says. “I was five years old.”
Pat came to Mills Home and her three siblings went to Kennedy Home. In those days, a child had to be six to live at the Kinston campus. She moved to be with her brother and two sisters the following year.
“I lived at Kennedy Home until my freshman year in high school,” she recalls. “Both places are special to me. They were home most of my childhood.”
Pat’s father was murdered when she was two years old. Her mother, a waitress in Rocky Mount, struggled to keep her family together. She worked long hours, and her small children were left alone most days until she returned—long after dark.
“Mother was courageous,” Pat asserts. “She did all she could, and
when she could do no more, she turned to Baptist Children’s Homes. I think back and shudder to imagine what could have happened if she had not.”
Pat has many fun and happy childhood memories. She remembers playing in the snow, eating lots of ice cream after her tonsils were removed, and joyful Christmases. She says the children had plenty to eat while other children she knew did not. Pat takes pride in the chores she did at Kennedy Home: putting vegetables and fruit preserves in jars for the winter months, raking leaves around her cottage, and working in the laundry building.
“My starched shirts did not have a wrinkle,” Pat chuckles. “They were so well ironed they could stand up by themselves.”
Her mother, who had moved to Raleigh, would visit and bring picnic lunches that the small family enjoyed at a nearby Kinston park.
“I always looked forward to our picnics,” she says. “Mother made the best fried chicken and potato salad.”
Pat’s mother knew she loved chocolate-on-chocolate cookies and fresh Sunbeam Bread. Almost every visit, she would bring her a loaf of bread and a package of cookies.
The sad times when her mother returned to Raleigh are seared in her memories along with her good ones.
“I would cry as I watched her drive away,” she recalls. “I knew she had to go and I had to stay, but I could not help but feel abandoned. I remember my siblings comforting me until I could cry no more.”
Pat knows living at Mills Home and Kennedy Home saved her. She says it is on these campuses that she learned the importance of home, family, and God in one’s life. It was at Kennedy Home that she began her personal walk with the Lord.
“I loved to sing, and still do,” she reminisces. “I sang when churches visited. I wore a pretty dress and shiny black patent leather shoes and sang, ‘Oh dandelion so yellow and gay, what do you do all day? I just stand here in tall green grass ‘till the children come out to play.’”
Pat says that despite feeling alone sometimes, she was never lonely growing up. “It is what these homes offered and continue
to provide children to this very day.”
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children