Beverly Carlisle can barely express the admiration she had for her late mother, Virginia Phillips Brown.
After years of staying at home with Carlisle and her five siblings, Brown was left a single mother after the father of the Phillips family died.
“I was only 8 when my father died,” said Carlisle, who is 57 and lives in White Plains. “I remember how loving my mother was even after that and how she took a job to support us.”
For a few years, Carlisle’s mother worked second shift at a ribbon mill in town until she was able to work the first shift, which gave her more time with her children. Even when working on second shift, though, she managed to make the most of the time she had with her children.
“We got our few minutes with her and then went to school,” Carlisle said. “When we returned, she fed us and then went to work. My older siblings had learned from Mother how to take care of us. My father always said, ‘Take care of the children and not the housework,’ and I guess she told that to my siblings.”
Carlisle has shown honor to her mother by embracing the same philosophy of loving and raising children. For her, though, only one is her own, a grown daughter named Kerri. She also has a young granddaughter, a grown stepdaughter, a step-granddaughter and five adopted children, ages two to 18.
A friend, Beverly Goodman, is a retiree whose career involved visiting and observing the employees at daycares throughout the area. She came to know Carlisle as a professional worker, and they have stayed in touch.
“The service she gives others is unbelievable,” Goodman said. “She is such a caring, loving person and goes above and beyond to help people in need. Whenever I came to visit her in a daycare, you could feel the warmth and the love there. She could walk into a room of noisy children, and they would all calm down.”
Currently, Carlisle cares for dozens of children at a daycare her daughter owns. Both she and Kerri are trying to instill the importance of kindness and sharing into children’s lives. Located on Whiteside Drive in Anniston, the daycare is called Belles and Beaus Preschool. Carlisle works there, too, reading to children and teaching them to paint, draw and use glue. Some of her co-workers were children she once cared for, and some of the children there are offspring of parents whom she has cared for during the last 38 years in various daycare situations.
Carlisle decided six years ago to become a foster parent. The in-and-out nature of the state’s program broke her heart each time a child left. That’s why she decided to adopt.
Currently, after work each weekday at the center, she returns home to cook, clean, get the children to bed and study. She has an associate’s degree from Gadsden State Community College in early childhood education and recently decided to return to school, online, to finish her bachelor’s degree. She only lacks four classes before she graduates.
“My bucket list is a little different from others my age,” Carlisle said. “At the daycare, I am in a pre-K classroom as an auxiliary teacher. Soon, I can be a lead teacher.”
During her brief moments of quiet time each day, she reflects on children.
“Sometimes,” she said, “I think about the parents, grandparents and extended families who could not keep the children I adopted. I just sit and look at the little ones, their tiny and busy hands. I watch them when they are playing, eating and sleeping. I look at them with happiness and joy and sometimes with sadness.”
Not all her experiences with children in her home have been easy. She, like all parents of teens, found them difficult at times. One ran away and stole her car. Others in her family were upset with her for taking the teen girl back, even if briefly.
“I loved her and felt she needed to see what a mother or a family member would do when she falls,” Carlisle said. “Later, her bad decisions led her out of our home, but not out of our hearts. It was a tough-love lesson, and we have been working through that. Maybe time will heal our broken hearts.”