2017-12-13 / Editorials

Mike Reese

“I was just thinking”

Looking back on my four plus years in this space, I found that I’ve written practically nothing about three very important women in my life. Their names are Lily, Alma, and Lois, very early 1900s names. They were my greatgrandmother, and two grandmothers. They became especially central in my life and my brother’s life on September 20, 1960, the day Mama died. I was ten, Raymond nine. Thank God for these three saints. Each of them stepped up to make our lives bearable after the funeral and each filled a different role. Without them my life might have turned out very differently.

Lily Barefield, my Mama’s grandmother (Granny) quietly, without fanfare, opened her old fashioned home to Raymond and me whenever we wanted or needed to be there. There was a wood heater in the kitchen where she made the best cornbread in an old iron skillet. Her meals were always “country cooking” good. When you’re ten and lose your mama, you think of nothing but your personal loss. As a child I never thought about how much her heart was broken, too. She’d lost a granddaughter. But despite her personal pain she was always there for us. She came up in tough times, and to look at her you’d never suspicion that she cut her own grass into her seventies. I need to visit Green Fork Cemetery. I miss her quiet tenderness.

Alma Reese, Daddy’s mama, never weakened, especially during terrible times like the death of her daughter-in-law. Her husband died leaving her with three young children to raise alone in the middle of the Great Depression. She had no formal education but she could sew. She “took in” sewing until her health failed her in her early seventies. But on the morning after the funeral Daddy picked her up (she never learned to drive) around 6:30, as he would for the next three and a half years, and she’d have a full breakfast on the table for her widowed son and two grandsons. None of us ever went without a hot meal. House cleaning was taken care of while we were at school. Steady, necessary, and faithful she was.

Lois Barefield, our maternal grandmother, saw that school work was never ignored. I’m thankful for that now, not so happy then as a fifth grader. She would check book bags to make sure that homework was done. Education was a huge priority for her. She and Granddaddy graduated from college as middle agers, unheard of back then. Books were always her gift of choice on birthdays and Christmas. I still have a book she gave me in 1961. It was a book about NFL football. She had two books of poetry published, one poem titled “Snaggletooth Mike.” Nothing could have kept Granddaddy and “NaNa” away from my college graduation. She told me that it was one of her proudest days, but for me not get the “big head” being a college graduate. “Your learning is just beginning,” she told me. She was right.

This is an extremely abbreviated telling of three women’s contributions to my life. Combined, their efforts had a huge impact on me. I’m proud that their DNA flows through my veins. Thank you, Granny, Grandmother, and Nana.

Return to top