Mama was a silent hero. Daddy often said, "She's the thumb in my back." What he meant is, she pushed him forward while she took a step back. She decreased while he increased. She believed in him more than he believed in himself. She led behind the scenes. She desired that he succeed in all things. While she quietly studied her Bible, she continually sought outlines and study guides that would help in his sermon preparations. She was a self-educated woman and an avid reader about all things. We often accused her of diagnosing everyone with the help of Prevention Magazine. But most of all, she was learning new ways to be a better pastor's wife. When Mama learned that she was going to marry Daddy, she took piano lessons because she knew he would need a church pianist. She learned to sing alto by playing the notes on the piano because she knew that the church would need special music. She and Daddy were the only singers in the church during the early years. We children were embarresed and would put our hands over our ears and slump down in the pew. She became the Children's director and the Youth director because she wanted her children to know that you could be a Christian and have fun. She said we all needed a little "good, clean fun."
Mama always said, "You can do anything you set your mind to do." But she also said, "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might." She didn't mind paying us for our work, but we had to earn it. If we did a job, she expected it to be done right the first time. We were paid $1, 25 cents or 10 cents depending on the chore, but it better be done right or you had to do it over for nothing. Mama told us stories of the days when she milked cows, washed clothes on a scrub board, sewed, cooked, and picked cotton. She was quite a storyteller.
Mama was a woman of faith, compassion and service. When she saw a need, she immediately looked for ways to meet that need. I was probably in the 3rd grade when mama discovered that one of my classmates was without running water and in need of personal hygiene and clothing. She said, "Bonnie, tell her tomorrow that she's coming home with you from school. I'll let her mama know." To be honest, I was embarressed. Mama was not one bit concerned with my popularity. She was more concerned that a little girl my age didn't have the basic things that were essential to good living. She brought her to our home, put her in my bathtub, scrubbed her clean, and put her on one of my dresses. She gave her three of my dresses and made two more so that she would have one for each school day of the week. Mama's life was spent in service to others. She and Daddy made "Sunday Rounds" week after week, many times getting children ready to go to church. She served others in time of bereavement. She usually arrived at the home of the deceased before the family did. She had a hot meal ready and the house was clean when the family returned home from the hospital or the funeral home.
Mama was a proud lady. She looked like a pastor's wife. For a long time, she didn't wear slacks. Every day, she wore a dress, panty hose, a girdle and a long-line bra. She said, "Always wear good underware." As our youth director, she wore her "Sunday best" to football games, Six Flags, Youth Retreats, camping and ballgames. She laughed, yelled, screamed, and cried with the rest of us. Her children were embarresed and we were so glad when she decided (or the church decided) that it was okay for her to wear slacks.
Mama loved our friends. There was always someone at our house on the weekends-sometimes 4-5 teenagers sleeping on the floor. She promised one dying mother that she would care for her chldren and she did her best to fulfil that promise. When the oldest son was in a near-tragic accident, she took him home, pureed his food and fed him through a straw for six weeks. A year later he died of complications and we mourned him as a brother.
Mama loved to laugh. She said we all needed a good "belly" laugh from time to time. She taught us silly songs. Sometimes she'd be laughing so hard we'd have to pull off the road. Family prayer time was not an option, but it wasn't always serious either. Sometimes during prayer time we'd find ourselves getting tickled over silly things. We'd start laughing and Mama would join right in while daddy kept right on praying. Sometimes we'd laugh so hard we'd pee our pants. We'd rush to the bathroom and Daddy wouldn't miss a beat praying.
Mama's gardens were always beautiful. Day lilies were her favorites and even now they are blooming in abundance. Wish I had gotten her green thumb.
Those were the good days and a few of the days I choose to remember about the Preacher's Wife and Life on the Second Row, Piano Side.
Flowers place in the church today in memory of my parents, Rev. and Mrs. J. Emory Lindsey and brother, Brian Alan Lindsey.