This information was taken from the local newspaper in Paris, Tennessee, the Paris Post-Intelligencer. It's an editorial written by my dad, Jack Tarkington.
More and more people of my generation approach this day each year for the first time without their mother's physical presence. For some of us it has now been several of these annual days of recognition without our mother, and others are still blessed to have their mother around. I fall in that second category. Even though it has been almost seven years since I lost my mother, that void is, and always will be, in my life. I dare say this is true for most people.
Your mother will always be special. She is your advocate, supporter, defender, teacher and friend. And while she may not approve of some of the things you say or do, she will always love you.
My mother never gained great fame or fortune. She never graduated from high school. Her passion was her family. She was content to be a faithful and loving wife to my dad for almost 55 years, a dedicated homemaker, a dedicated friend to all she knew and a surrogate grandmother to many.
When I was eight years old, she started baby-sitting two-year-old Geralda Holley, and continued doing so for about six or seven years. Over a period of time, she also baby-sat Bobby Boyd, Jared and Ashley Veazey, and in later years, her great-nephew Cameron Cooper.
For several years in the 1970s and 1980s she "baby-sat" Steve and Sherrill Olver. Baby-sitting is probably no the correct term for them, since they were in school and would stay with her each day after school until their parents got off work and came to get them.
She grew to love them and took great pride in their achievements. She truly became their surrogate grandmother.
I truly came to realize this a few weeks after her funeral, when I received a card and letter from Steve expressing this to me.
Steve stated the letter had been several weeks in the making, expressed his sympathy, and said he hoped he could someday show the same love, care and devotion to a child of his own she had shown to him.
He stated that during her funeral, the minister mentioned "the lessons she taught us," and he shared the following as some of those lessons:
- Be nice to your little brother or sister. They may grow up to be just as big as you are one day.
- Go to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Not only will you learn about Jesus, but the Kool-Aid is good.
- Use a black skillet to fry potatoes (or almost anything else.) It will always taste better.
- Mountain Dew is much colder in a glass bottle kept on the back porch in the Frigidaire.
- Don't skip a page when reading a book to a child. They usually know the difference, and you never know what you'll miss.
- At the end of a rough day at school, it is always a good idea to sit on the front porch in the swing and let someone else help you with your problems.
- Watch out for cracks in wooden bridges. If you have little feet, your shoes might get caught in the cracks.
- Quiltin's and hog killin's always mean good food, lots of neighbors and tall tales.
- Play with the neighbor, and let her choose what game to play today. You can choose tomorrow.
I will keep Steve's letter, but more than that, I will keep those simple life lessons. I am sure Steve doesn't mind me sharing them with others.
As Mother's Day approaches, remember Bear Bryant's line in a telephone commercial several years ago, "Be sure and call your your Mama. I wish I could call mine."
Great article, Dad. Grandma was all this and more.