A Tribute to "Miss Emma"
Since April 1, 1995, the Waller family had planned for a very special 90th-birthday celebration for ‘Miss Emma," highly respected, dearly loved, oldest member of our branch of the family. All of us wished to make the occasion of this birthday an appropriate and worthy expression of our appreciation for her.
Miss Emma married the father/grandfather of the clan, Mr. Percy Waller, on December 31, 1962, after the death of his first wife, Myrtle Gatewood Waller, beloved mother of Don, Mildred, and William Lowe. Miss Emma crept into our hearts with her goodness, kindness, gentleness, meekness, and unselfishness. Most of the grandchildren hardly knew their grandmother, and, when the grandchildren were young, Miss Emma and Granddaddy ran a virtual summer camp for them. They delighted in coming to the country and being with Granddaddy Waller and Miss Emma. Some of the great grandchildren began calling her "Mi Mi," but "Miss Emma" is the name used most by the family and by friends in our closely-knit community and church where she has made a special place for herself.
Two weeks prior to her birthday, the Oxford Eagle published a delightful front-page article and color photograph of Miss Emma. The article included an invitation to the tea planned by the family for March 31 at the Clear Creek Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Friends and family were also invited through a later picture and invitation in the Eagle; through the newsletter of the First Baptist Church, where Miss Emma was an active member from 1932 until 1962; and with invitation inserts in Sunday-morning bulletins of the Clear Creek Baptist Church.
The special day dawned a beautiful, crisp, cool, perfect spring day. Miss Emma and the family gathered for the worship services at the church. The hymns were favorites of Miss Emma and the sermon, including thoughts from Isaiah 46:3-4 on "Borne from Birth," was most appropriate. Coincidentally, Miss Emma’s favorite scripture, Psalm 121, was featured in the bulletin. Flowers in the sanctuary had been placed in Miss Emma’s honor, and our daughter Susan and her daughters, Mary Beth and Joanna, sang "Sweet Hour of Prayer." The morning’s bulletin announced that a pulpit Bible was being given to the church by the Waller grandchildren. (The one presently used in the foyer was given to the church by Reverend R.G. Hewlett, Pastor, in 1892, and the 100 plus years of use have taken their toll.) Attending services with Granddaddy Waller and Miss Emma was always a part of the grandchildren’s visits, so worshipping together and presenting the Bible was especially appropriate for them. The Bible, in which all the grandchildren had inscribed their names, was displayed at the guest register during the afternoon tea.. (Other items--pew Bibles, plant pedestals, candelabrum, tapestry--have previously been given to the church in Miss Emma’s honor.)
Miss Emma greeted guests at the tea in a bright rose-colored dress complemented by a rose corsage. Many comments were heard about her age-defying appearance. She is the oldest child in the family of seven girls and one son of Willis B. and Susie Heard Winter.
The memorabilia table was a favorite spot during the afternoon. Early photographs of Miss Emma from the Winter family album and later ones tracing her life to the present were displayed. These included pictures of Miss Emma with Granddaddy on their wedding day and on other special family occasions. One of the most interesting items on display was a scrapbook which Miss Emma had kept during more than 40 years as an active member of the Order of Eastern Star, including one year in which she served as Worthy Matron; during more than 25 years as a member of the Burgess Homemakers Club; and during years as a member of the Clear Creek Church, where she is the acknowledged "Koolade Queen" of Vacation Bible School. The grandchildren had written letters sharing their deep love and devotion to this one who had in the words of all of them been "everything a grandmother could be." This scrapbook will be a family treasure.
The great-grandchildren added their buoyancy to the day. They played in the children’s department of the church--coming out occasionally for refreshments and to survey the activities. One little great granddaughter showed approval of the honoree by sporting her own name, "Emma Carroll " on the collar of a pretty hand-made dress.
Miss Emma was overwhelmed by the outpouring of well-wishers. Cameras, both traditional and video, recorded the events of the day and will add to the family memorabilia.
My own association with Miss Emma goes way back. I was born in the Delay community, where the Winter family resided many years before moving to Oxford and establishing a mercantile business on the square, which the family operated from 1932 until about 1965. For me to go to the Winter’s 10-cent store was a highlight of every trip to town. During the later years of operation one of the most popular spots was a small cafe area in the back of the store where the town’s famous 10-cent hamburgers were sold.
Miss Emma’s influence will be long-lived. It was our privilege and pleasure to honor her and to thank her for the impact for good she has had in the lives of our family and others. I have often commented that I do not believe she is capable of an unkind thought or angry deed. During all these years Miss Emma’s love for each of us has come through in patient endurance of many times of hard work on her part as we have gathered for family times at the Waller home.
Family ties and bonds of friendship play an important role in our development and stability through life. The many articles published these days depicting the breakdown in family life are heartbreaking.
All the family will recall this birthday observance fondly. It will always be important to each of us. The warmth of love and friendship which flowed will feed our souls in years to come as we recall one more priceless family event.
Miss Emma continues to enjoy the day through the guest register, scrapbook, and photograph album, to which I am continuing to add photographs of her day. The videos and photographs will record this day and the legacy of Miss Emma’s love. And the family is already making plans to honor our Miss Emma on her 100th birthday, April 1, 2006.
Age is like a mountain high;
Rare is the air and blue—
A long, hard climb and a little fatigue—
But, oh! What a wonderful view!
from "You Are Never Alone," page 113, Guidepost Selection
Prayer for the Family
With the observances of Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, our thoughts turn in memory to the homes of our past, to our present homes, and to homes we would make for our families’ future. Here we share these comments which we find helpful and well taken.We have heard it said that the Home is the heart of our society. If this is true, our society is in trouble.
Lord, help us to build strong Christian homes. Help children to develop a sense of responsibility and personal discipline which will bring honor to Christ and happiness to the family. Help parents to love one another as You love them and outdo one another in acts of kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
The Parents’ Creed
I believe, that my children are a gift of God—the hope of a new tomorrow.
I believe, that immeasurable possibilities lie slumbering in each son and daughter.
I believe, that God has planned a perfect plan for their future, and that His love shall always surround them; and so
I believe, that they shall grow up!—first creeping, then toddling, then standing, stretching skyward for a decade and a half until they reach full stature—a man and a woman!
I believe, that they can and will be molded and shaped between infancy and adulthood—as a tree is shaped by the gardener, and the clay vessel in the potter’s hand, or the shoreline of the sea under the watery hand of the mighty waves; by home and church; by school and street, through sights and sounds and the touch of my hand on their hand and Christ’s spirit on their heart! So, I believe, that they shall mature as only people can—through laughter and tears, through trial and error, by reward and punishment, through affection and discipline, until they stretch their wings and leave their nest to fly!
0, God—I believe in my children. Help me so to live that they may always believe in me—and so in Thee.
—Robert H. Schuller
Helping Children Understand Death
Increasingly I have become burdened with the lack of preparation for death. Many wisely are preparing to ease the financial burden of their families when death comes. Some go a step further and assemble background information and funeral suggestions. However, few seem to prepare to deal with this emotionally shattering experience prior to need. When death occurs, time does not allow much groping for answers to our emotional needs.
Perhaps no need is greater than that of preparing a child for impending death. Preoccupation of adults with the details of arrangements sometimes leaves a child alone to deal with the ordeal of the present and with prospects of the future. I have been appalled in reading adults’ memories of deaths and tragedies which they experienced as children for which they were not prepared and through which they were not guided. Some still bear emotional scars from these experiences.
I remember observing Jane (not her real name), who was about 10 years old, standing on the edge of the group as a family began to prepare for the family prayer just before entering the chapel for the funeral service. Jane’s father had died. I had watched her earlier throughout her time at the funeral home, and she seemed at times to be laboriously, silently pondering the activities taking place. Then, almost instantly, she would become distracted and go about the building in her own world, only to return later to observe and ponder again. When the funeral service was near, I stood behind her with my hands resting gently on her shoulders. She looked up and back at me and said, "What are we doing?" I explained that she and her family were about to have a time of prayer. "What then?" she asked. I explained that we would all go then into the chapel, "which looks like a church" (I had seen her cautiously easing toward the chapel earlier), and the preacher "would talk as he does in church on Sundays." "What then?" again. "Then everyone will go to cars and we shall ride to the cemetery." Once again, "What then?" I knew we were approaching an important point in her thinking of the events to come. I whispered that her father’s body in the casket would be placed in the ground into the grave which had been prepared. She looked up and said, "I don’t want to do that!"
My time with Jane had been too brief. I wasn’t prepared to cover so much in so short a time. Prior to this point she had apparently moved through this momentous occasion in her own little world. After the service as the procession was forming, someone realized that Jane did not have her coat. Beth hurriedly got it and, as she handed it to me, she cautioned, "Careful--there is something in the pocket." I held the pocket as I handed Jane her coat. I could feel the shape of a Pepsi bottle. Before Jane’s world had closed in upon her, she had carefully put this away for later. Perhaps her Pepsi was consoling as she sorted through the events of the day.
Later I shared the exchange Jane and I had had with her mother. She felt Jane’s nature and disposition had carried her through with few scars. I believe, however, that these little minds and hearts can be permanently damaged as we adults are overcome in our own world of grief and unable to offer satisfactory explanations when the children need them the most.
Perhaps the death of an older friend, neighbor, or even a pet can provide the opportunity for some discussion of death with a young one. We are cautioned to be prepared to speak in the child’s language, moving through our explanations at their pace, answering their questions as they come.
Through the years we have collected some wonderful grief helps at the funeral home--books, articles, pamphlets prepared by those trained in child psychology. We would be pleased to share these with you.
Is there anything I can do to help?
Suggestions for the Friends and Relatives of the Grieving
1. Get in touch. Telephone. Speak either to the mourner or to someone close and ask when you can visit and how you might help. Even if much time has passed, it’s never too late to express your concern.
2. Say little on an early visit. In the initial period (before burial), your brief embrace, your press of the hand, your few words of affection and feeling may be all that is needed.
3. Avoid cliches and easy answers. "He is out of pain" and "Aren’t you lucky that are not likely to help. A simple "I’m sorry is better.
4. Be yourself. Show your natural concern and sorrow in your own way and in your own words.
5. Keep in touch. Be available. Be there. If you are a close friend or relative, your presence might be needed from the beginning. Later, when close family may be unavailable, anyone’s visit and phone call can be very helpful.
6. Attend to practical matters. Find out if you are needed to answer the phone, usher in callers, prepare meals, clean the house, care for the children, etc. This kind of help lifts burdens and creates a bond. It might be needed well beyond the initial period, especially for the widowed.
7. Accept silence. If the mourner doesn’t feel like talking, don’t force conversation. Silence is better than aimless chatter. The mourner should be allowed to lead.
8. Comfort children in the family. Do not assume that a seemingly calm child is not sorrowing. If you can, be a friend to whom feelings can be confided and with whom tears can be shed. In most cases, incidentally, children should be left in the home and not shielded from the grieving of others.
9. Encourage the postponement of major decisions. Whatever can wait should wait until after the period of intense grief.
—Printed with permission of Medic Publishing, P.O. Box 89, Redmond, Washington 98073
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from February 16, 1996, through May 5, 1996.
Mrs. Jennette Tingle Robison 2/16/96
Mr. William David Wilson 2/19/96
Miss Margaret Dunlap 2/20/96
Mrs. Janie Lamar Sanders 2/20/96
Mr. Harlee Gay Russell 2/21/96
Mr. William T. Gafford 2/24/96
Mrs. Geraldine Rothchild Landreth 2/26/96
Mrs. Mable Vines Pinion 2/26/96
Miss Falba Quinn Harwell 3/2/96
Mr. Rance Melton 3/9/96
Mr. Francis "Frank" E. Toner 3/15/96
Mr. Troy Naden Ivy, Sr. 3/16/96
Mr. Herman E. Taylor 3/19/96
Mrs. Mellie Ann Sullivan McLarty 3/20/96
Mr. Robert "Bob" L. Jones, Sr. 3/21/96
Mr. James Earl Edwards 3/22/96
Mr. Clifford Michael Black 3/24/96
Mrs. Annie Jones Henderson 3/25/96
Mrs. Bessie Harrell Metts 3/26/96
Mrs. Marjorie Shipp Hewlett 3/30/96
Dr. Reuben Leonard Chrestman, Jr. 3/31/96
Mr. Albert Elmo Bishop 4/3/96
Mrs. Hattie Lou Kelly Connor 4/4/96
Mr. Earvin Lee Metts 4/5/96
Mrs. Montie Jordan DePriest 4/6/96
Mr. Joseph "Joe" M. Hudspeth 4/11/96
Mr. William Leighton Thomas 4/12/96
Mr. Aaron Trent Foster 4/16/96
Mr. Harry James "Pete" McGregor 4/18/96
Mrs. Bertha Frazier Whitehead 4/21/96
Jonathon Elgin Ramsey 4/21/96
Mrs. Pearlie Ann Free Cook 4/28/96
Mr. Silas "Cy" Lester Kesler 5/2/96
Mrs. Beulah Hale Houston 5/2/96
Mr. Elton B. Addington 5/4/96
Ms. Sallie Jean Fischel 5/5/96