Thursday, May 10, 2012



By Doc Lawrence

My dear departed mother left a trove of priceless memories. She remains the best self-taught cook I’ve known, a kitchen magician who could transform things ordinary into a feast for angels. All moms are special and all things possible begin with them. Alabama’s tough and crusty coaching legend Bear Bryant always ended his weekly television show with a command: “Call your mama!”

He meant each day.

My stylish mom loved to cook and entertain. She glowed with beauty and strength of character. Her favorite hobbies were family and friends. At Christmas, I might get a handful of cards from a few close friends. Mom would be deluged, proving the old adage that you receive love by giving it.

She was from northeast Alabama. You can see towering Lookout Mountain from the place she was born. Old cemeteries nearby have graves of Revolutionary War soldiers, Confederates and many strangers who might be kin. The town, once a warm mineral water spa for tourists, no longer exists. The area is called Sequoia Valley and it’s as lovely as anything in Wyoming or Montana. Rural, big skies and underground caverns you can explore. I feel her presence there.

My mother was a child of the Depression and World War II. During my baby days, she was very ill, in and out of hospitals, but somehow managed to carve out a career with one of the South’s legendary retail stores, Rich’s.  I still have folks stop me while I’m shopping in Atlanta, asking about her.

With apologies to all the talented chefs I have the privilege to know and admire, my mother could take almost nothing and miraculously create a banquet. Sunday dinner (she never skipped church) was a spread of congealed salads, perfectly seasoned fresh vegetables, fried chicken, roast beef, biscuits and gravy plus cornbread and desserts. Tea was brewed and the table was set with boundless love.

To this day, I’ve never had a better dessert that her lemon custard pie with graham cracker crust topped with billows of soft meringue. And if she owned a cookbook, no one ever saw it.

I learned that Elvis died when my mother called me. Rain or shine, she attended his concerts in Atlanta. She adored the Atlanta Braves. A joke in our family was that mom would not die during baseball season. She departed on a cold December night.

Sunday I’ll make the journey to the cemetery with flowers. Mom is buried next to her youngest son who predeceased her by three decades, an unimaginable pain she carried with unwavering dignity.

The roses will be bright red. The prayer in gratitude. The memories precious. Somewhere from the backroads, I’ll hear her favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” the version by Elvis and the Jordanaires.  I’ll be back for sure on her September birthday. Maybe then the Braves will be in first place with a chance to win it all in 2012.

Nothing would make her immortal soul happier.


  1. What a lovely tribute. How Great Thou Art, indeed. I love that hym.

  2. Such a beautiful and special tribute to your Mother - sounds a bit like my Mother from small town Georgia. We all miss our mothers, and remember that "no one" ever loves us like our mother! Happy Mother's day to our Moms.


  3. Your heart rings through in this adoring tribute. Your mother sounds lovely and I am sure she would have been touched deeply by your loving words. Thank you for reminding us how very lucky we are to have our mothers!