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A Tribute to Mama, by Linda

May 14th, 2017 1 comment

My sister Linda, the youngest of the ‘kids’,  wrote this tribute for Mama’s 90th birthday.  She expressed what all of us felt.  Thanks Linda.

How Do We Measure a Person’s Life?

by Linda  Simpkins

How do we measure a person’s life?  By the number of years, I guess.  And 90 years is a number that surely does impress.

But in measuring some special people’s lives, perhaps there’s a better way.  So, Iness Ward, mother, friend and wife,

We will try to measure this day.

We could count all the stitches in baby clothes, that she has sewn with care, the smocking with rosebuds she has made, delicate as angel’s hair.

We could count the sugar cookies she’s made and served over the years.  She knows they help to comfort those who have worries or fears.

Maybe we’d count the red sock monkeys, how many has she made? Or the children she has given them to, and the hours with them they have played.

We could count the dolls she’s lovingly made, and dressed to look so fine,  with bonnets and booties to give to a child, who would wide-eyed ask, “She’s mine?”

We could count the friends that she has made, who consider her a treasure, or the hours spent on the telephone sharing joys and pleasure.

But maybe the best way to measure her life, this wonderful friend, mother and wife, is to count the prayers that she has said, usually done quietly, alone in her head:

For her children to arrive safe and sound to whatever destination they are bound, or the prayers for a friend, sick or alone, to send comfort and solace till the pain is gone.

The prayers aren’t said to impress or amaze, they are sent from her heart, forever, always.

Though baby dresses and friends number so high, the prayers are as many as the stars in the sky.  They are steady and flowing from a source like no other,

They come from the loving heart of our mother.

Mama’s Hands

July 25th, 2016 1 comment

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Mama worked hard from morning till night,  her hands always busy, cooking, cleaning, mending, sewing, caring for six children and a husband.

 We were all delivered at home by one of the town doctors because there was no local hospital. The custom at the time was for mothers to stay in bed for 9 days.  She used to laugh and say it was the only rest she ever got.

The last of her seven babies was delivered when she was just  32.   So young. That was the end of her resting time!

Not only did she work nonstop at home, but for several years she picked cotton along side Daddy , her fingers wrapped in tape . When the youngest, Linda, started school, Mama began working at the Brown Shoe Company at a job that required fast, efficient hands to make a decent wage. In her 23 years there she was known for being the quickest and best worker in the tuft-staying department.  While others took breaks  to relax, Mama kept working, those hands never stopping.  She was helping to feed and clothe her children. She was there to work.

Mama’s hands were musical on the organ; she could play almost any tune she heard.  They were precise on the sewing machine; she cut her own patterns and sewed beautifully.  They were masterful with her wide range of arts, crafts and hobbies.  Most of all, they were  gentle with babies and sincere in prayer.

The picture was taken at the age of 99 and shows Mama’s hands still beautiful, strong, and graceful. By this time, and until she left us at almost 102, she was less busy, and could rest those wonderful hands, 

Today would have been her 104th birthday and we celebrate it with love.

A Mother’s Embrace

May 8th, 2016 2 comments

 

Missing Mama

I never meant to move so far away, but my choice of a spouse made it clear.

I never knew being separated from my family would keep hurting year after year.

Mama was wonderful, wrote long newsy letters, and assured me from the start,

That even though I was in California, in Arkansas I would  be kept close at heart.

From letters we moved on to recordings, so I could share the sounds of my baby son.

Mama and Daddy would listen, and she would reply.  I’ve kept those tapes, every one.

The phone bill was included in our budget, Mama’s voice was priceless to my ear.

The calls were kept short because they were costly, saying goodbye often left me in tears.

The worst times were on holidays, when I felt so torn and alone,

Nothing could ease the grief I felt, not my husband, my young son, nor my new home.

I gave in to the misery, to the yearning for my mother’s embrace.

The little girl in grown up clothing, felt a sorrow she could not erase.

It sounds like such a small problem, “Just grow up,” one might say,

But life is never that simple.  It took therapy and learning to pray.

A mother’s love is a sacred trust, no wonder we hold her so dear.

Separate but one with our mother, whether she is far, far away, or near.

A Lesson from a Little Tree (and Mama)

April 24th, 2016 Comments off

 

Mama used to say that a little tree taught her a lesson.   A few years ago  I asked her to tell it to me again so I could write it down in her words. 

“One  winter morning I was looking out the kitchen window. I saw that one of our cedar trees was weighed down with snow and ice.   It was bent all the way down to the ground.   I thought to myself that this time it was ruined, that this time   it had too much to bear and would never be able to recover, not this time. It looked broken.

I had felt like that myself, with problems so heavy on my heart  I didn’t know if I could recover one more time or not.   I wasn’t sure if   the burdens would ever leave me to where I could pull up and be the same again.

When the weather looked like it couldn’t get any worse,  there was a change .  The sun came out and it gradually melted the snow and the ice.   When I looked out the window a day or two later I saw that that same  tree that I thought had been ruined, was standing tall and straight again.   It made me think.

I thought about those times when we were  bent down, feeling so low, asking God to get us through.   He was the one who brought us back after pain, after sorrow, after heartache, to stand up again.

What I learned from that little tree is that burdens can be lifted if we just trust in the Lord and don’t give up.”

Thanks Mama, once again you’ve inspired me.

Love that remains forever, the bond between grandchild and grandparent.

January 22nd, 2016 Comments off

 

Tim & GrandmaIMG_0205 

 

Each year when I called Mama on my birthday, it went something like this:

October 26th, 2015 Comments off

Mama-ME-225x300Hi Mama, I know it is early, but since you all get up early I wanted to call before I go to work. Today’s my birthday you know.

Of course I know!  How could I forget my only 10 lb. baby?  I was going to call you, but you beat me to it. Daddy and I were just remembering that snowy day in October of ’42.  We talked about what a big beautiful baby you were!  Grandma said you looked ready to go to church! 

Oh yeah, I was a 10 pounder . . . sorry about that! haha.  I wanted to call you and thank you and Daddy.  Thank you for giving me life. 

Well,  that’s real sweet of you.  Everybody should thank their mothers on their birthday.  Guess I should thank you kids, too.  The only rest I ever got was the 9 days in bed after each baby!  haha    I know you have to get ready for school.  Don’t be late now. Have a really good day, I’ll be thinking about you all day long.

Thank you Mama.  I love you! Tell Daddy I love him too.

I’ll do that!  We love all you kids so much! 

Bye Mama, talk to you later.

Bye Bye and happy birthday!

 

A Mother’s Voice

September 30th, 2015 Comments off

As I returned home from taking my elderly neighbor to an appointment, I heard my Mother’s voice say,You’ve done your good deed for the day.”

It made me smile and then it made me think:  what words of mine come back to my son?  Are they words of criticism or words of encouragement and faith?  Are they affirming or condemning?  Are they  depressing or uplifting?  Naturally, I hope he filters out all but the positive, just as you hope your kids will.

Our words do matter.  Not just to our children but to everyone we know.  They sometimes appear to bounce off, but many times our words go deep and they linger within their hearts and become foundational.

I am grateful that the words I hear from my Mother’s voice help me to believe in myself, and to believe that I am loved.  I hope they are the same words that come to my son’s ears when he hears my voice within himself.

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Thanking Mama

October 25th, 2014 Comments off

Mama and ME May 07Tomorrow is my birthday.  I can’t call Mama, but I can imagine our conversation.

Hi Mama,

Well, you beat me to it, I was going to call you.

I know, but I wanted to say it again this year, ‘thank you for giving me life.’

That’s sweet Mary Etta. You were a beautiful baby , weighed 10 pounds!  Your grandma said, “Why she’s big enough to go to church!”  But we waited for 3 weeks. You know back then the mothers stayed in bed for 9 days. That’s the most rest I ever got! ha ha

I’m sorry we didn’t help you more growing up Mama, we were not always the most thoughtful bunch. 

You were good kids and still are good kids.  Me and Daddy are proud of you, every one of you.  Daddy calls each one of your names every night when we kneel to pray before going to bed.

I’m so grateful for that  Mama. Thank you for  raising us to know the Lord.  It was your most precious gift you could ever have given us.

You know Daddy and I love you kids, more than we can say.

We know you do Mama, and we love you.

You have a happy birthday and give Tim and Bill a hug for me.

I’ll do that, talk to you soon, I love you Mama.

I love you too Mary Etta, so much.  Bye Bye for now.

 

 

 

Mama’s Love

May 11th, 2014 Comments off


When I was very young I got jealous because Mama was so kind to a neighbor girl about my age.

She would talk to her, ask her about her day, just small things.  The girl loved Mama and stopped by the house every chance she got.  I don’t know why, but it bothered me to see Mama giving this one girl such special notice. Maybe I wanted it for myself, although I never suffered from lack of attention.

I’m glad that I was the kind of child who could, and would, confront such an important issue instead of repressing it. Through tears I asked my Mother, “Do you love her more than me?”

Mama, obviously surprised, shook her head slowly and said, “Oh no!  I could never love anyone more than you, you are my own.”

She went on to explain how the little girl needed someone to be ‘sweet’ to her because she didn’t get that from her family. I knew Mama was telling me the truth.

The compassionate heart of my Mother became clear to me that day and in time I saw it expressed to people of all ages. I never questioned her love again. In fact, I took pride in knowing that she had so much love that she could love all of us and other people too.

I will love you forever Mama. Your sixth of seven kids, Mary Etta

‘Homegoing”

April 19th, 2014 Comments off

 

Dear Friends,

Mama had a beautiful ‘Homegoing’ today. Jamie organized the service and music just as Mama would have wanted it.Tim, Alice and I got to ‘be there’ thanks to nieces Mandy and Suzanne who connected us by Facetime.

Pastor Randy Scott spoke of Mama’s family, her faith and her future. Pastor Terry Miller shared the close connection that he had with Mama, as well as the lifelong friendship between his grandparents and my parents.

Both pastors clearly appreciated the woman of faith and family that was our Mother. She was a blessing in life and in her memory she continues to bless us.

We thank you God for Mama, we know she is now with You.

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