The couple pictured here, on their 50th wedding anniversary, are my maternal grand-parents, Sam and Vera Bellamy. Most of you would have no reason to know them.
My grand-father was the finest man I have ever known, he loved God, his family and friends above all else. He was a loyal man who I never heard utter a negative word about anyone.
My grand-mother, Ma-ma, was the second most important woman in my life, just behind my mother, allow me to tell you about her.
As a young child I spent a lot of time with my ma-ma, my mother spent weeks at a time in the hospital as a result of injuries from a car accident and as the youngest child in our family, I spent my days underfoot of my grandmother.
Ma-ma never worked outside the home, but she was the consummate homemaker running a tight-ship where everything had a place, a home-cooked meal was on the table each night at 6 and she did all this dressed to the nines.
Some of my favorite memories are sitting at my grand-parents kitchen table for breakfast with my ma-ma. During our morning routine, we would have toast with homemade strawberry jam and she would pour me a cup of coffee while we talked. The “coffee” consisted of a few drops of coffee and an abundance of milk. We would sit at the table, plan our day and talk. Unbeknownst to me, those morning breakfasts were laying the ground-work to my character and passions of life.
We spent hours in ma-ma’s flower garden, making sure each bloom of gladiola, chrysanthemum and rose was nurtured and cut to be arranged at just the perfect moment.
A couple of afternoons each week we would bake. A pound-cake or pie or some other delicacy that would be our dessert for the coming meals. Always from scratch, always delicious.
As the youngest of four grand-children, I was sure I was her favorite, but ma-ma had a way of making us all feel like we were the one, yet still today I like to think I held the top spot.
She pampered us all, when she found us playing cowboy and indians on the gas tank in the back-yard, she sewed us all costumes to make it more authentic. She designed and made all of our special outfits, Easter, Christmas, birthdays, my brother’s prom tuxedo, there was nothing she couldn’t sew that looked better than anything you could find in a department store.
As much as she pampered, she didn’t tolerate foolishness. If you were caught misbehaving part of your punishment was to go outside and cut your own hickery that she would use to swat across your legs.
The memories I have of my ma-ma are cherished, she gave me an appreciation of baking, flowers and quiet moments with those you love. She taught me to honor the past and cherish mementos from times gone by.
Ma-ma was always an important part of my life, as I got older I made sure to call her every week to check in. When I went away to college I could expect a weekly note, card or letter in my post office box and my visits home always included a stop to see she and my grandfather.
I had a connection with my ma-ma that is hard to describe, we just clicked and could talk for hours on end or just sit together and not say a word, it didn’t matter, it was cherished time together.
As her health began to fail, I was living in Atlanta. When she was at her worst, she would be admitted to Emory Hospital in Atlanta and we were able to spend quality time together.
On the evening before her death, I had gone to visit her. Knowing our time was short, I sat in the room, alone with her. During those finals minutes I was able to tell her how much she meant to me and how much I cherished our days together.
As we sat in her room that evening, I held an Ensure bottle to her lips while she sipped her final meal. The next day, around 1PM she was gone.
I miss my ma-ma, I am thankful for the life she led and the lessons she taught me, but most of all, I am thankful for her simple acts of kindness and love than she showed me each day of my life.
It’s now been many years since she passed, but I still find myself thinking of her when I do something that reminds me of our times together.
Rarely do I see a beautiful garden of flowers that I don’t think of her backyard beauties.
Holiday planning always includes special treasures that came from her home and I can feel her presence during family gatherings.
I loved my ma-ma and appreciate the lessons she taught me, I am forever grateful for our times together. I look forward to the day when we will again sit together, in the most beautiful flower garden you can imagine, we’ll have a cup of coffee and a piece of pound cake and we’ll talk.
Today is her birthday, if she had lived she would be 111 years old. In honor of the life lived by Vera Clark Bellamy, my ma-ma, I just thought you should know about her.