Bowen: Mother’s Day remembrance

Published 10:00 am Friday, May 12, 2017

I want to be the first to say happy Mother’s Day to all our lovely and elegant Southern moms.

Now for this week, we are going back almost 15 years to the day, when we reflected in this same space on Georgia’s greatest mama, a prejudice I know you’ll allow me today. Here’s her story

You know Mama

Why, if you’ve been opening up this page any time at all I’ve mentioned her to you a dozen times or more.

When I was home recently, I did what I always do now when I go home. I go by old Mrs. Bledsoe’s flower shop off of Fourth Avenue, pick out the prettiest flowers I can find, and take them out to the cemetery.

Even Mrs. Bledsoe remembers. When I went by in March, we sat down for the longest and talked about Mama. For a good many years, Mama would go by regularly to get flowers for Daddy’s grave, and the two of them would talk.

Mama made an impression on Mrs. Bledsoe, but Mama made that impression on everybody. It’s an amazing thing. I’ve never talked to anybody who knew Mama who didn’t say she was the sweetest person they’d ever met. Ah, but you already know that.

Mama had a hard life. I know that now. Raising four children – by herself for a good bit of her life – and working in a cotton mill making a dollar-something an hour makes for a hard life.But she had some great blessings, too.

She had four pretty good kids. My big sister Jean was bossy and thought she was my second mama. She still thinks that, and that’s okay.
My two brothers were pretty rough – especially to me – and even though they weren’t angels, they turned out two of the biggest-hearted people I know, just the way Mama would have wanted.

And, even if those three were lacking a little, Mama had a fourth one, her “baby” as she called him, and he made up for any deficiencies they may have had.

I know you may have a hard time believing that. I understand. My brother Wayne had a hard time, too – until he went home with me in March. On our visit, we went out to see my Uncle Bud, who we hadn’t seen in a long time. Bud has seen quite a few miles in his day – although he doesn’t look it – and piloting is one thing he has on his resume.  On our visit, he got to telling about the time when I was about six or seven, I guess, that Mama took us out to the La Grange airport to go up in Bud’s plane. I guess she was going to let us all go up. But just as we got ready to get in the plane, Mama got cold feet, grabbed me, and said,

“Bud, you take the rest of them, but you can’t take my baby up.”

Mama had other things going for her, besides four good kids. She grew up with quite a family before she had her own. She had her very eccentric (but great!) brother Raymond – who I was named after – and her sister Florence and her auburn-headed preaching brother-in-law, my Uncle Alton, whom I’ve told you about many times.

She had the man who most influenced my life, her dad Preacher Miller. And, of course, she had my best friend, Grandma, who, of course, was her mama.

And, most importantly, she had God.

I still think Mama had faith that could move mountains. As I’ve long said, if she’d lived in Bible times, I think she would have gotten a spot in Faith’s hall of fame over there in Hebrews 11. She was that kind of a Christian lady.

Mrs. Bledsoe and I talked about many of these things there in her flower shop for a good hour on our visit. Mrs. Bledsoe said that, toward the end of Mama’s life – when Mama knew the end was near – that many times they’d sit and cry together. I don’t think she was worried about where she was going.  She was concerned more with the well-being of those she was leaving behind. Mrs. Bledsoe agreed.

After our visit, I went by and picked up Grandma, and the two of us carried the flowers out to Mama’s grave. Grandma helped me place the flowers, then went and sat in the car. She can’t stand too long, and I needed a couple of extra minutes. It’s an amazing thing: After all these years, Mama still can tell me what she thinks and offer me a little advice. Everybody knows I sure can use it.

So I always stay a few minutes just to hear what she has to say. Along the way, even though she died twenty-nine years ago, I can’t help but to water those flowers a bit, before leaving them there in her honor.
You understand. Mamas have that effect on us, no matter how old they are or how long they may have been gone. ~ May 10, 2002

Steve Bowen is a former Granger who lives in Red Oak Texas.