Shuck and Jive

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In Memory of Helen Collins

This evening we will have a service to celebrate the life of Helen Collins. Helen was an elder at First Pres., and a big fan of Elizabethton and Carter County.

She wrote a column for the Elizabethton Star, entitled "Images and Echoes." This is her last column that she wrote on Mother's Day. It was published in the Star yesterday:

Mothers and memories go hand in hand

Today the American Mom gets to be 'Queen For a Day,' she'll receive enough accolades to embarrass her and receive gifts galore from her kids -- they just don't understand their presence in our lives is the best of all gifts, the one that often defines who we are and continues to give us genuine happiness.

Now here's another plus: As a result of the gift-buying, millions of gifts, retail sales are at an all-time high as of yesterday, so boy howdy! we're in clover, the economy will sky-rocket and the dreaded R word will fade into oblivion, thanks to American sons and daughters who nurtured our shaky economy. (I kinda' like the dramatic sound of that.)

A few weeks ago while on a prowling foray into some overloaded boxes and drawers, I happened on one of those end-of-the-year letters my oldest son's first grade teacher, Mrs. Hawthorne, had written to his parents, telling us what a good student he was, eager to learn, a good reader. We figured that gave us bragging rights but we may have gone too far. Mothers save important 'documents' like that, they're priceless.

A while back I found a poem my oldest daughter had written when she was about nine in which she had used the first letters of my name to give expression to her mother on her special day. H is for Heart, E means Ever, L is for Love, etc. Actually it got pretty involved by the time she got to the final S, probably glad I had a fairly short name. Every time I bring it out, we all laugh together, but hey! moms love this stuff. We keep it -- forever.

An "adult" letter from another son is kept safely in the old cedar chest. These are rare gems, they tell us what growing up in our care meant to them as they reflect on their life as a young adult on the verge of accepting the responsibilities of grown-ups. I cherish that letter, it's sort of like that trophy you never expected to win.

Art from school and church, handmade crafts, letters, my youngest daughter always had plenty to say and write -- and make, all of which are stored in the Chest of Memories. You know about those, you have them, too, those 'original' works of art. One note, written long ago when Pal's was over on Broad Street and she was probably in first grade, asked: "When can we go to Pal's?" In those days, all of the condiments were displayed buffet style and I think she liked making all those decisions. Also, that would be a good Mother's Day outing. Conniving kid.

So, yes, it's a blessed fulfilling role we moms play in this journey. It's a daunting experience as we try to give them their wings by letting them go when they're ready, temper our discipline with love and hope our mistakes are not major.

Childhood passes all too quickly, it seems, but we're left with a thousand and more memories, and it's amazing how we can call any one of them to mind in the blink of an eye.

A word to you new moms: You're on the trip of a lifetime. There are surprises ahead for you, good times as you walk on the 'Mom Road'. To you moms of teenagers: I promise you, it gets better and better. Remember to laugh a lot, listen a lot and love a lot and before you know it they'll be dealing with their own teenagers and asking, "Mom how did you endure?" And you'll smile and say ... you fill in the blanks here, Mom.

As for us older moms, well, we can pretty much take it easy and enjoy life -- as long as our kids are healthy and happy.

If we get pampered a bit, if we are embarrassed with all the attention, well, remember, our kids are enjoying 'repaying' us and celebrating our day, so let's just relax and enjoy it.

As I write this, I am counting my blessings, and I believe I see a collective smile out there and hear a murmured "Me, too."

Helen Collins was a mother to many people. She will be missed.


  1. God rest her beautiful soul. Lovely words!

  2. Sounds like she was a wonderful human being. Our thoughts and prayers with her families--home, church and world.