WAXHAW, NC – Riding down Providence Road in the summer will not hold it’s same charm this year. Martha Louise Adams Haywood, one of our town’s most beloved figures, has passed. With her went one of Waxhaw’s oldest standing institutions and a piece of its beauty too. Mrs. Haywood, known to many as Nancy, provided fresh-picked fruit, vegetables, and advice to Waxhaw’s residents for more than 40 years from her roadside stand. We will never taste produce picked by her hand again, but here is a little of that advice. If you have an ear to listen, it’s just as sweet.
“Get out in the dirt and grow a garden. Grow your own food. Help others when they are in need. Old people, young people, help them. Be kind and gentle. When people do you wrong, heap coals of fire on their head by being nice to them. I’ve learned that in life and in doing this business.”
If the heaping coals part would throw you off, Haywood would direct you to Proverbs 25:22, one of her favorite biblical verses. More often, she would ask you to read all of chapter 25, so you could get the context. There was hardly another person more dedicated to their faith than Haywood, answering without hesitation that the secret to living a good life was to live for and trust in God. If you asked Haywood, she would say that good life was all hers, doing what she loved to do every day, although the picking got tough.
“This is my hobby, honey. I was setting out tomato plants last night at nine o’clock. Not in the field, but I was planting. I love to do stuff like this all the time. This farming is my passion, I don’t need any other hobbies. Well, I do love to sing.”
The people of Waxhaw adore Haywood, and she loved the people of Waxhaw too, saying in our last interview together that they were the best part of her job.
“I have met some great people in Waxhaw, North Carolina. A lot of them are gone. I miss them, but it has been a joy.”
Waxhaw will miss Haywood dearly as well, and just about everyone you meet will have a story to tell about the Peach Lady. Jim Black, Waxhaw resident, and friend of Haywood, called her a guardian angel and the conscience of a town in which she has remained one of the only constants.
“She never had a bad thought for anybody,” Black said. “No matter what condition she was in, she was out there. People would ask her how she felt, and she always felt fine, maybe a little tired. To do something like that for 43 years, she physically changed in front of everybody’s eyes. When she started, the census in Waxhaw was less than 2,000 people. The face of Waxhaw, especially on Providence, changed totally. She was the only constant.”
Thank you, Mrs. Haywood, from everyone in Waxhaw, for all of the years dedicated to sharing your business, your friendship, and your wisdom with our town. Thank you so much for being our Peach Lady.