I grew up in the small South Georgia town of Odum. Mama was the fourth grade elementary teacher at Odum Elementary School.She loved her students and her students loved “Miss Sara”. Mama knew her job was to teach the children reading, writing and arithmetic. Mama also knew her job was to make each child understand he or she was indeed a person of worth. Mama always looked for the best in her students and was given to empowering them to do their best.
Mama was a lady of a simple yet great faith. I cherish her Bible. It is among my prized possessions. Mama not only read the Bible, she took seriously the teachings of the Bible.
She was always reaching out to the least of these. For many years she was the pianist at Odum Baptist Church. She taught piano lessons and was always willing to teach the students whose parents did not have the funds to pay. Mama had the gift of engraving the songs of hope in the lives of children.
Mama had a special place in her heart for her own children. Mama had four children and expected each of us to give our best to the opportunities before us. Study always came before play, church came before community happenings, respect for others came before criticism and in Mama’s world their was no place for mediocrity. Yet her motto was, “I expect you to do the best you can, nothing more or nothing less.”
I could write a book on the memories I have of Mama. When I experience the difficult times of life I remember the last time I heard Mama play the piano. Mama was diagnosed with breast cancer at forty two years of age. She was very sick when I graduated from Mercer University. The time came when I had to decide whether or not it would be possible for me to attend Seminary. Mama was in the last stage of cancer and medical bills were mounting. I volunteered to stay home and help with the bills. She would not even talk about that possibility. The morning my wife Margaret, baby daughter Jenny and myself were preparing to leave for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary I heard the sound of a piano. I entered the living room and saw Mama in her physical weakness playing her piano. The song was an old song we sang many times at Odum Baptist Church, “If You Knew Him Only Knew Him You Would Love My Saviour Too.” That was the testimony of Mama’s life. At the conclusion of my first year at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mama went to home to be with her Lord. I will always remember my Mama and the blessings she brought to my life and our family.