Among my treasured memories are the facts and feelings of reunions with my Hardin relatives in Turrell, Arkansas. My mother’s family, the Houstons, were nearby and we were together often, but being with Daddy’s family involved excursions to the far away place of Turrell, Arkansas. I still remember my excitement and the anticipation of my parents for this time we would have with Daddy’s dear kinfolks.
Before these trips, Mother would be quite busy preparing our clothes. Though our clothes were not plentiful nor of choice variety, few of those we loved had better. Some of my prettiest little dresses were made from floral flour sacks and trimmed with bits and pieces of rickrack and braid. Most of us were poor but this never affected the great joy of coming together. The Hardin family has always been very expressive of their love. The most important aspects of the occasions were the happiness there and the memories and warmth we took with us as we parted.
Such occasions bringing us together with our families and friends strengthen ties, the bonding which is important to happy, well adjusted lives. Children, especially, seem to benefit from the feeling of being loved and accepted by family and friends.
In times past, people gathered annually for days for protracted church meetings. Those living near the church opened their homes to those whose homes were farther away. My mother shared with me her memories of these meetings and the preparation her family made for those who came for services at Kingdom and Cornish. One of Mother’s tasks was filling pillow shams with the small clean corn shucks kept back for this use. Aunt Myrtle, Mother’s oldest sister, supervised the family’s preparations. Mother’s mother died when Mother was four years old, and Aunt Myrtle declared that she would never leave home as long as Mother was there and she did not. I was born on Aunt Myrtle’s 40th birthday, and she died at our house when I was four.
I cherish my memories and mementos of our family. I still have Aunt Myrtle’s feather bed. And I have my mother’s keepsake record of family illnesses, births, and deaths. Just this week I looked through a box containing Aunt Myrtle’s mementos. I was especially interested in the eulogies which she had written and had printed about family members. The box contained other items including Aunt Myrtle’s 4-H Club records. Aunt Myrtle died in 1936 and my memories of her are vague, but I learned more about her from these keepsakes.
I gained information about our family from wonderful genealogical research done recently by a cousin. My sister Ava and I have relished reading this history together. We saw names of older ones whom we remembered, although sometimes we knew these by other names, the shortened names or nicknames used by family members in place of what were often quite pretty names.
More memories were relived during a recent visit by a first cousin. His name, like my late brother’s, is Jim Hardin. When we were growing up almost everyone was known by their double names; he was James Fredrick and my brother was Jimmy Houston. We shared with Jim news of our families and then enjoyed reminiscing. His visit and our reviewing of feelings which had lain dormant too long was good for each of us. I was happy he came and grateful for the joy brought by remembering these times. Jim’s home was a favorite place of my childhood.
Besides our family reunions, I have pleasant memories of other occasions which brought together friends and loved ones. The all-day singing and dinner-on-the-grounds (always said in one phrase) was a popular gathering. These were held all over the area and were often a part of homecoming activities. Those attending looked forward to renewing friendships of years past in the same place. One place I remember best is Pine Flat United Methodist Church. I held the musicians at these events in awe, especially the pianists. When mealtime came, the musicians were ushered to the tables first. The hostesses liked for the food they had prepared themselves to be chosen and enjoyed. The weather was often very hot, but it did not seem to bother anyone that the only breezes were created by Douglass Funeral Home fans, a few folding fans, and some large palmetto fans (with which a careless fanner often brushed the face of someone sitting near).
The spirited singing was based on reading of shaped-notes, a skill taught in summers in singing schools held around the county. Daddy must have learned to "beat the time" at singing school, and he was frustrated after he lost his right arm and was no longer able to direct singing. I have a shelf full of Daddy’s song books. New books were published each year although some favorites were carried over. Daddy preferred the Stamps Baxter but did have some of the Vaughn.
At a long-ago watch night program, Mrs. Annie Jones McElroy was asked to share personal memories of her childhood and teenage years at Clear Creek. I have and treasure her page of notes. She told of families coming from far and near to spend all day at church on Sundays. After worship services, the bountiful food was spread. Throughout the afternoon the young people liked to be together, though under watchful eyes of parents. Much preparation was involved. Perhaps one task not so pleasant was preparing the church for the meeting. Those families nearby cleaned. "Miss Annie" laughed as she shared how she wondered why the young girls were assigned to clean the spittoons. The wall-mounted lamps with reflectors were polished also.
Homecomings are another form of reunion. Perhaps my best memories of a genuine homecoming are of here at Clear Creek. Mrs. Annie Jones McElroy and her husband, Mr. Bud, put much effort into the success of these popular events. Mr. Bud walked the churchyard getting names and addresses of those from other places and the following year they received reminders of the approaching homecoming.
Clear Creek Homecoming was always held on the Sunday before Labor Day. Once those of us who wished to be away or otherwise involved on the last weekend before the children went back to school attempted to change the date just one week. We were not successful. Mr. Bud insisted those who were coming from a distance needed a holiday weekend for time to travel and to visit.
At my first homecoming here I was thrilled and I never ceased to be thrilled by the beauty of the crowd beneath the great shade trees and by the spreading of an array of the most wonderful foods remember the great pleasure of the children as they played around the fifteen-gallon wooden keg which held ice water provided by Mr. Byron Locke. It was not long before a little mud puddle was formed. Shoes came off and the little ones were delighted to feel the squish of the cool mud between their toes.
I wanted my grandchildren to experience this traditional homecoming at early ages to provide treasured memories. However, as with many traditions, this too has changed. Our church members voted, but not I, to have homecoming every five years. Also it seems not the same since the lure of air conditioning took us inside and the food is spread together rather than by family groups.
Not everyone enjoys as much as I do reaching back to former years. Nor do they treasure keepsakes. My attics are filled with old things--mine, my mother’s, some of Don’s family’s, Ava’s, and my children’s (including their toys and stuffed animals and even some left here by their friends 30 years ago). Our children seem not to care to be bothered by this collection now; however, in the future it may become meaningful as evidence of love and belonging as they clear out my things after I am gone.
To love and be loved is one of God’s greatest blessings. We all need this feeling of belonging. Children seem to have a sixth sense which picks up on the love directed to them. Their characters are molded by their experiences and by the love invested in them.
Many of our friends and neighbors here are also relatives. The forty-six years I have been blessed to spend with them have given me a deep feeling of security and a feeling that I am a part of a chosen people. I am grateful my children grew up in a place where they felt secure, loved, and happy. The heritage of their place of worship and this community are priceless. They knew they belonged here. No one could deprive them of this security. Whenever we come together, whether as two or many, we experience the wonderful feeling of reunion.
This writing of reunions has made me long for a family reunion. We could share Aunt Myrtle’s writings and the pictures made with the little black box Kodaks, perhaps together identifying some of the unknowns in these photographs.
As meaningful as all these gatherings are, they become dim when compared with the greatest of all reunions which will take place when we join our Lord in heaven. I have read and heard many sermons on the life hereafter; however, I shall probably never fully understand until lam with Jesus in "that land beyond the river which we call the sweet forever." Recognizing the greatness of God’s gift of His son, we are able to look forward to being with Him and those we love who are there. I cannot see death as a grim reaper. I see a holy being sent by God Himself to take me on that last trip to that homecoming with Him. It brings me joy to know that my parents are together and with baby Matt and Jim and with their own parents. "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be."
We are including below answers to some of the questions frequently asked about our funeral services. If you would like any clarifications of these answers or if you have other questions, please contact us.
Is Waller Funeral Home home-owned and operated? Yes. Don and Patsy Waller own the Funeral Home, and their daughter and son-in-law, Beth and Bob Rosson, manage the Funeral Home. At a time when many nearby funeral homes are being bought by large firms, the family is committed to keeping this a family business. Even now, Bob and Beth’s son is beginning to help with some of the working details of the Funeral Home.
What information is needed to make funeral arrangements? We have a form in fill-in-blank format on which families provide the information needed to make arrangements and to secure death certificates. A space is provided for questions families want answered at the arrangements conference. These forms are available to anyone, and filling out a form can provide a start on pre-arrangement of a funeral.
Can we purchase a monument through the Funeral Home? Yes. Waller Funeral Home represents two monument companies, Columbus Marble Works and Matthews Bronze and Granite. Both of these companies are leaders in their industry and they can supply the type of monument that you prefer.
Does Waller Funeral Home handle cremations? Yes, we handle all types of cremations. We will help with direct cremations, traditional cremations, memorial services, graveside services, or other types of service. We can help families with columbarium, ground burial, or scattering of cremains. We carry a selection of cremation caskets, urns, and urn vaults.
THANKS FOR FEEDBACK!
Thank you for your comments by letter, by telephone, and in person about the newsletter! How good we feel when we are told that something we have included in Seasons has been especially meaningful for someone! With her permission, we are passing on a beautiful letter received recently from Gudrun Sloan, of Houston, Texas.
I have often wanted to write to you and never took the time to sit down and do it!
Today I want to tell you how much I have enjoyed your SEASONS newsletter through all those twelve years since my beloved husband Robert T. Sloan, of Abbeville, Mississippi, passed away and was released of the horrible pain the cancer had caused him.
Your editorials, your quotes, your poems are so comforting, even after all those years. It is just a pleasure to read your newsletter, even though it does deal with grieving and sad times in our lives. You are such a comfort and have continued to send me these printings.
I want to take this opportunity to comment on Carol Luebering’s article on "Planning the Funeral" and how funerals and gravesites are for the living and according to one’s deepest feeling:
I often wondered whether I had done the right thing to have my husband buried in Abbeville, under an old oak tree, giving him eternal shade, on the hills where the Indians once roamed and so did he when he was a young boy, instead of the place in Senatobia where his parents were laid to rest.
I find great peace going to the old cemetery, where old gravestones show dates of the 18th century. The redbirds still exchange happy and sad songs as they did the day Robert was buried, and the dogwoods bloom so beautifully and the magnolia faithfully wears it majestic blossoms.
I am originally from Germany and work as a free lance translator in Houston now.
In Germany the graves and gravestones are removed after 35 years because of lack of space. I never can look up the gravestones of my ancestors.
Thanks again for your moral support during the years!
In In Families: A Memoir and a Celebration, published by Harper and Row in 1975 and by Bantam Books in 1976, Wyatt Cooper reminisces about his life growing up and his later life as the father of two boys. It is a very personal and moving story. Cooper spent his boyhood in Quitman, Mississippi, and was living in Manhattan with his wife, Gloria Vanderbilt, when the book was published. The conclusion is quoted below:
Life itself is brief and yet each life encloses all eternity. We are, all of us, separately and together; engaged on the same tough journey. Each of us alike tastes of its joys and its sorrows. Each of us gets by as best he can. And we must, whenever possible, reach out to each other, tentatively to touch, with our hands, with our eyes, and with our hearts. We must wish for each other love and laughter; smiles and sunshine good thoughts and happy days.
We must go rejoicing in the blessings of this world, chief of which is the mystery, the magic, the majesty and the miracle that is life.
DEAR ABBY: 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. — A GRIEVING DAUGHTER, BETHEL PARK, PA
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."
Reprint —The Daily Mississippian
Family ties are precious things Woven through the years
Of memories of togetherness... Of laughter~ love and tears.
Family ties are cherished things Forged in childhood days
By love of parents, deep and true, And sweet familiar ways.
Family ties are treasured things, And far though ‘we may roam,
The tender bonds with those we love Still pull our hearts toward home.
—Virginia Blanck Moore
Happiness is like a butterfly.
The more you chase it,
the more it will elude you.
But if you turn your attention
to other things,
It comes and softly sits upon
—I. Richard Lessor
Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love:
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims, are one,
Our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear,
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
From sorrow, toil, and pain,
And sin, we shall be free;
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.
—John Fawcett, 1782
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from May 7, 1998, through July29, 1998.
Mr. John A. "Junie" Hovious, Jr. / May 7, 1998
Mr. James Russell Dudley / May 10, 1998
Mrs. Barbara Kathleen Mills Ard / May 11, 1998
Mrs. Rosa Mae Prewitt / May 14, 1998
Mrs. Bettye Lou McCoy Jones / May 15, 1998
Miss Nicole Gaye Bowie / May 20, 1998
Mrs. Lottie Louise Shaw / May 20, 1998
Mr. Wallace Eugene Burrell / May 23, 1998
Mr. J.W. "Wobble" Davidson / May 25, 1998
Judy Fogerty / May 25, 1998
Emily Grace Fogerty / June 5, 1998
Dr. James Robert Blackburn / June 7, 1998
Carley Daniel Allen / June 7, 1998
Mrs. Ruth Walker Coleman / June 7, 1998
Mrs. Violet Clark Wilcher / June 8, 1998
Mrs. Jackie Littlejohn Clapp / June 11, 1998
Mrs. Dura Lee Gardner McLarty / June 13, 1998
Mr. Cortez Stewart / June 13, 1998
Mr. Richard Wayne "Ricky" Hankins, Jr. / June 14, 1998
Mr. Edward Simpson York / June 16, 1998
Mr. Charles Aubrey "Biggon" Briscoe / June 25, 1998
Mrs. Ada Victoria Tidwell Arbuckle / June 25, 1998
Mrs. Margaret Johnson Sullivan / June 28, 1998
Mr. Laymon Paul McLarty / July 2, 1998
Dr. Joanne "Jan" Varner Hawks / July 4, 1998
Mr. Howard Franklin Hartstield / July 7, 1998
Mrs. Mattie Hughes Tallant / July 8, 1998
Mrs. Dulon CoIe Howell / July 11, 1998
Mr. Thomas Floyd "Tom" Piotrowski / July 13, 1998
Mr. Wilbert Marvin "Top" Ellis / July 15, 1998
Mrs. Jimmie Lou Waller Sanders / July 16, 1998
Mr. George Howard Brummett / July 19, 1998
Miss Frances Echols / July 20, 1998
Mrs. Nadene Fowler Bland / July 21, 1998
Mrs. Marion Oden "Mickey" Cullen / July 26, 1998
Mr. James Acel Fitchett, Sr. / July 27, 1998
Mr. Kenneth "Jack" Chandler / July 29, 1998
Mr. Robert Lee "Rab" Rodgers / July 29, 1998