“My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run
My strongest trials now are past, my triumph has begun
Oh, come angel band come and around me stand
Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home.”
Performed by Emmylou Harris
By Doc Lawrence
A child of the Depression and World War II, my mother represented the finest of the Deep South. Although she never said it, her role model had to be Scarlett O’Hara. Survival and accomplishment were embodied in a beautiful woman who faced fate squarely and despite unconscionable losses along the way including the death of her youngest child, moved forward relentlessly.
Her name was Carrie and true to the good manners of her time, she was addressed as “Miss Carrie.” Poverty denied her much formal education, but she loved to read and found time to read bedtime stories to me before I was in kindergarten. Books, newspapers and magazines have been vital parts of daily living thanks to her.
She departed this world before my first book was published, but she is the reason it happened.
Southern boys often talk about their mother in the context of cooking and dining. To this day, I have yet to experience staples like fried chicken that compared to the quality of Mom’s. She would ask me on Saturday what I wanted for Sunday dessert and the answer was always her lemon meringue pie. When I came home from college for the holidays, the pie would be waiting to be sliced and served after the feast.
Big name pastry chefs have never served me anything half as delicious.
She enjoyed working, earning some extra cash to keep her three children a little ahead with occasional extras. While I was a skinny teenager, she worked in the record shop at Rich’s, a legendary department store in Atlanta. She brought home promotional sample records, and I was introduced to obscure names like Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Bo Diddly, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Patsy Cline and Elvis. A new world of rhythm and harmony opened and I became a rocker with a party band in college, following in her footsteps by earning some money through music.
I was never happier.
I believe she attended all of Elvis’ concerts in Atlanta. One morning during the Dog Days of August, Mom called and informed me of his death. I still remember the pain in her voice.
A devoted Atlanta Braves fan, Mom would not die during baseball season. Her time on earth ended during the December holidays while her beloved Braves were in recess.
Like Emmyloe Harris, Zelda Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, Tallulah Bankhead and Truman Capote’s Aunt Sook, Mom was an Alabama girl. Born and raised in the northeast corner of the state, Lookout Mountain forms a spectacular backdrop for lovely. Sequoyia Valley. I always thought it would be a wonderful place for a child.
I’ll visit her grave early Sunday morning to bring roses. As the Georgia sun peeks through the pines, sometimes the air stirs a little. During moments of great peace, I listen carefully for the flutter of angel wings.