Spring 1995


When I began to see my cactuses showing the need for attention, I knew I had been dreadfully negligent. They ask so little of us.

I am especially fond of cactuses. My oldest houseplant is a cactus which Don and I bought on February 15, 1952, the day we as newlyweds bought groceries to stock our kitchen. I still have the cash register tape from Kroger showing a total of $7.89 for the groceries. I was learning new shopping habits as a wife. My mother shopped from Stephen and Tatum’s or with Mr. Ed Belk on the square; and, since we lived in town, her groceries were usually delivered. Don’s mother shopped at Kroger, though she very seldom went grocery shopping herself. Somehow she managed to get Don or Mr. Waller to do most of the shopping. She often told of writing "haircut" on the list to remind Mr. Waller when he needed one. I still remember on that day more than 43 years ago how Don helped me decide on 25-pounds of plain flour (which lasted a very longtime!) and I remember how together we selected a little cactus about 4 inches tall which has lasted to this day.

I put the new little cactus into red sandy soil from the backyard where a new cistern was being dug. (Cisterns, too, were new to me!) About cisterns I learned to let the board-shingle roof wash off before putting the pipe over the cistern and I learned also that water from the cistern was not going to contaminate Don and me and (later) the children.

Fifteen years later and (I hope) somewhat wiser, we moved from the old house with its high ceilings into our new house. The cactus by then was so tall it had to be placed in the stairwell. At that point in time it was beginning to show age (as were we). There were spots where it appeared to have been about to give up and then indications of growing spurts when it had become full and green again. I told Don the rough spots and healthy spots must have chronicled our own highs and lows in life. One day, although I had braced the plant with cane, it was so top-heavy that the upper half fell off. As I picked up the long piece to discard it, I thought perhaps this was the end for this old friend. But I was so wrong. Moved to the utility bathroom where it received more sun, it flourished--grew bigger than ever and began putting on small offshoots, which I began taking off and potting. Each of the family knows which cactuses have come from the original early-marriage cactus. Once there was a discussion among the children about who would get the cactus "when Mother and Daddy are gone, and I promptly fixed three pots just alike. Strangely, none of the children have taken theirs away.

When Mother became quite ill in the late 50’s, she asked Aunt Fadrie (Knight) to take her houseplants and care for them. Many years later when her own health began to fail, Aunt Fadrie asked me to take Mother’s cactus, the only one of Mother’s plants that had survived. Much later I was thrilled with a lovely white bloom on this cactus which had been placed on our backporch.

As best I can estimate, the plant was over 20 years old at that time and is about 37 years old now. Through the years I have transplanted many pieces of it. Only the original plant blooms, with usually three or four blooms each summer.
I also have pieces of "Miss Azalee’s" (Mrs. Azalee Lewis Ayles) trailing cactus. The runners become so long they must be pruned, and I have started many new pots with these.

One of my prettiest cactuses came from the home of the Farm Bureau President in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It appears to have leaves and it divides and multiplies beautifully. Ibroughtback4 "leaves" when we were in Puerto Rico and they all rooted beautifully.

I have other cactuses but no others with such histories as these I have described. I have enjoyed making and sharing dish gardens of cactuses, always recalling the origin and history of each cactus. I have also passed on in jest the advice received from a man quite knowledgeable about plants: to succeed with cactuses, subscribe to the Albuquerque, New Mexico, newspaper and water cactuses each time it rains there.

In thinking of the characteristics of cactuses, I have thought that some people are like the cactuses. They require very little individual attention. They make the most of unfavorable conditions. They even come forth with unexpected beauty when others may have given up on them. They readily share of themselves for the pleasure of others. Sturdy, strong, and giving— they are good examples for us all.



The following article is a partial reprint of a column by Mrs. Corrie M. Jones in the Oxford Eagle of June 15, 1967. Jesse Phillips, Eagle Publisher, has kindly granted his permission for the reprint.

The author, Mrs. Corrie M. Jones, taught English at Taylor for who knows how long? She was considered almost a saint by those who knew her. Her many, many students and their parents swore by anything she said or did.

June, the month of brides and really the month that begins summer in earnest, has almost reached the half-way mark. Father’s Day is June 18. The credit for making the first suggestion for having a Father’s Day belongs to Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane, Washington. The idea occurred to Mrs. Dodd in 1909 as a suitable tribute to her own father who had successfully reared a family of children after the death of their mother.

She wrote to the Rev. Conrad Bluhm, president of the Spokane Ministerial Association, proposing that the third Sunday in June be set apart for honoring fathers. The association approved the proposal and the first celebration of the day was held in Spokane in June, 1910.

Sons and daughters were asked to wear a red rose in honor of a living father and a white rose if the father was dead (as they did for mothers).

Knowledge of the celebration did not spread far — for in 1911 the observance of Father’s Day was discussed in Chicago as though it were something new. Miss Jane Adams approved it, saying, "Poor father has been left out in the cold. He doesn’t get much recognition. But regardless of his breadwinning proclivities it would be a good thing if he had a day that would mean recognition of him." Many others have claimed the day originated with them and their cities, but now it goes back to Mrs. Dodd.

Candy is a popular gift given to Mothers on their day, but cigars, tobacco (in all forms), neckties, shirts, etc. are gifts often given for Father’s Day.

Proverbs 10:1 says, "A wise son maketh a glad father." And in "The Merchant of Venice" by Shakespeare we have, "It is a wise father that knows his own child" —Act II, Scene 2, Line 80.

Then from "Seven Lamps of Architecture," "The Lamp of Memory" in grateful appreciation we say, "Therefore when we build, let us think we build (public edifices) forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone, let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our fathers did for us!"’

There is a book named "The Horn-beam Tree" by Sid Ricketts Sumner (I read it several years ago) that lam thinking of now — The tree — a tough tree of smooth grey bark and hard white wood, its leaves resembling those of the beech tree — very hard, strong wood. We speak of men — our fathers sometimes, like unto the hombeam tree — with an inner toughness. The mortar and pestle for the apothecaries used to be made ‘out of the hornbeam wood — hard as a horn. The branches, by nature, are already shaped for the yokes of oxen — oxen were used lots in the early days; and these yokes on them were made from the hornbeam wood of that tree. We need men of inner toughness NOW!


Just yesterday I buried my father. I feel so empty. 
If I never accomplish anything else in my life, I would like the world to know that, 
with a little practice, it’s easy to say, "I love you."
I realized during my dad’s critical illness that sometimes 
it’s very hard for people to say what’s in their hearts. So I beg of you:
Start today. Those three little words get easier every time you say them.


DEAR DAUGHTER: My sympathy on the loss of your beloved father. 
Your letter carries an important message. Sometimes words that are the most 
difficult to say are the ones that the listener most needs to hear. 
Among the phrases that come to mind are: "I’m sorry," "I was wrong," and 
of course, "I love you." 


Dear Friend:
Don’t be shocked if this reads like an invitation to a funeral. You will notice that no date has been set, and I hope the event is postponed as long as possible.

But death eventually comes to all, and I see no reason not to think about the inevitable. The interval between birth and death is called "life." For some, this period is short, only a few hours. For most, the life span is measured in years, sometimes beyond the three score and ten promised. When the end does come, I have decided that my leave-taking should be noticed as much as my arrival.

To that extent this is an invitation. I not only want you to be present, but if you feel like crying, go right ahead. I guess we all cry at some time in our lives. When we are young, we cry if we are hurt physically. When we are older, we cry if our feelings are hurt. We cry at all ages when we lose those things we treasure or love, and that is why I don’t mind if you cry at my funeral. It will show that you thought enough of our friendship and placed enough value on it that when it was lost with my death, you cried.

My wife and I have discussed all this and we agree, just as we have on everything of importance in our forty years together. For a while she thought it might be easier on our family and friends if there were no funeral. A funeral takes time and money. But when we really thought it through, we decided it is one of the most important events in life and shouldn’t be ignored or eliminated.

I profess to be a Christian. I believe in the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the Resurrection. When I die, there will be no more appropriate place and time to exemplify these great truths and give them credence than at my funeral. I hope the funeral will give testimony to my family that the grave is not the end, and that our separation will be a temporary one.

Another reason for the funeral and why I hope you will be there is to let my family know that you share the loss they are experiencing. Years ago when my father died, more than 200 of our friends attended the funeral. The greatest help
my mother and I could possibly have had at that time was the knowledge that so many were at our side. This is a cherished memory my mother and I still have today, twenty-five years later.

Some people avoid a funeral because they do not want to face the reality of death. But death is real and it must be faced, and only the funeral can provide the means for its final acceptance. One of the great tragedies of war occurs when a boy does not return home and is listed as missing in action. As great is the hurt and loss when death is known as a certainty, even greater is the continuing despair and anguish of never knowing for sure. The funeral is the final act. It is the symbolic conclusion of a natural life.

Some would avoid a funeral and justify quick and cheap disposal of the body on the grounds that it is of no further use, an empty shell, a carton. This is wrong, because the body is the physical manifestation of the person who dies. If we place any value on the person, then we should not demean or degrade any aspect of the person and especially not that which has been the house for the spirit. I must admit that I haven’t given my body the best of care, but it has served me well and it is all I have. When I die, I hope it is treated with respect and deference. City dumps and even the sea are used to dispose of worn-out and discarded goods along with rubbish. But surely not for that which God created even though it no longer serves.

You were at our wedding just as later on we stood up at yours. Our children were baptized in the same church. We have done some marching together. We have shared a lot of happiness. So when my funeral takes place and the time comes to share a loss, I know you will be there. And go ahead and cry if you feel like it. I’ll know then that you thought I was a pretty good guy, after all.

Your friend,
Ralph Head

Reprinted in part, with permission of National Selected Morticians Resources, Inc.

Having faith found to be a good prescription

Faith heals — at least to some extent, according to new findings on the health benefits of religious beliefs and activities.
In a study of 232 elderly patients who had undergone open heart surgery, those who were able to find strength and comfort in their religious outlook had a survival rate three times higher than those who found no balm in religious faith.

Those who had the strongest participation in social groups also had a three-fold survival advantage, according to the study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

"Having a strong faith and being embedded in a web of relationships like churchgoing have definite health benefits," said Dr. Lisa Berkman, an epidemiologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. While social support’s benefits had been found in previous studies, this is the first to demonstrate such a strong health advantage from religious faith among seriously ill patients.

"It seems that being able to give meaning to a precarious, life-threatening situation — having faith there is some greater meaning or force at work — is medically helpful," said Dr. Thomas Oxman, a psychiatrist at Dartmouth Medical School. "If you can’t make sense of what’s going on, it’s much harder to bear."

Of the 232 patients in the study, 21 died in the six months after surgery. "Most of the deaths were from cardiac arrhythmia," an irregularity in the heartbeat’s rhythm, Oxman said. "It may be that having faith translates into your being more soothed physiologically. If your mind is calmer, that might make arrhythmias less likely."

There was no such effect on the death rate from frequency of participation in religious services or from a feeling of being deeply religious. Nor was there an advantage from overall religious activity. The benefit seems to be specific to being able to find solace in belief, Oxman said.

Reprinted from Commercial Appeal with permission. 

We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from February 19, through May 12,1995.

Mr. Cyril Douglass "CD." Johnson 02/19/95

Mr. Scott Gilmer Black, Sr. 02/19/95

Mr. Charles Tallant Weideman 02/22/95

Mrs. Edith Christman Upchurch 02/22/95

Mr. Loy Linder Owens 02/25/95

Mrs. May Hsun Wang 02/26/95

Mr. Gerald Dean Pierce 03/02/95

Mrs. Emma Styers Reaves 03/02/95

Mrs. Eva M. Walker 03/02/95

Rev. Earl Francis Beeler 03/05/95

Mr. John Franklin "Frank" Hollowell 03/07/95

Mr. William Hal "Nub" Sanders 03/09/95

Mrs. Frances Grant Ellis 03/15/95

Mr. James Lenard Tubbs 03/17/95

Mr. Wesley Vandiver Glover 03/20/95

Dr. George Worley Boswell 03/22/95

Mrs. Mary Frances Adams Waits 03/27/95

Mr. Byron Lorenzo Austin, Sr. 03/29/95

Mrs. Mae Belle Tubbs 03/30/95

Mr. Benjamin Donald "Don" Ament, Jr. 04/02/95

Rev. William Louis Thompson 04/04/95

Mr. Donald Edward "Don" Buckles 04/07/95

Mr. John Robert King 04/14/95

Mrs. Ruby Hawkins Fuller 04/25/95

Mr. James Richard "Ricky" Vinson 04/29/95

Mr. Albert "Al" Jetton 05/04/95

Mrs. Ruby Grace Keel Downs 05/04/95

Mrs. Myrtle P. East 05/06/95

Mr. Obed Eugene Brewer 05/09/95

Mr. Henry Gilliland 05/11/95

Mr. Cecil William Timmons 05/11/95

Mr. Johnny Mack Ratliff 05/12/95


Death is a reality most of us rather not think about. Like other family financial matters, however, death should be planned for well in advance of its occurrence. Planning for death does not bring death closer, only more organized when it does occur.

For some people, pre-need plans with funeral homes are the method chosen for paying funeral expenses. Financing your funeral using the pre-need plan allows you to pay for funeral expenses in advance and often offers inflation protection by freezing the cost of your funeral at today’s prices.

If you decide to use a pre-need plan, here are some important buying tips to remember:

•Be sure you get a plan which allows you to lock in today’s price for your funeral.

•Insist that the trust into which your payments for the plan go be held in a federally insured bank or savings institution.

•Make sure all of your money will actually go into the trust.

•Ask what will happen if you change your mind about the plan.

—Reba Bland 
Extension Home Economist Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service

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