“The reason God quit creating after He had made woman was because He knew that even He could not improve upon perfection!”
My entire life has been influenced and shaped by three strong women: my mother, my wife, and my mother-in-law. It is these three women whom I write about in this post at the time of Mother’s Day.
In earlier posts I have presented tributes to the first two—my mother and my wife. I wrote about Mama in the posts titled “Life Is Reg’lar/My Mother’s Bible,” “Selma Store Evokes Boyhood Memories,” and “My Favorite Childhood Books/The Truth about Santa Claus.”
I will publish my final tribute to Mari in December at the time of our fiftieth wedding anniversary. In case anything happens to me between now and then, I have already composed and illustrated it and written up my email announcement of it so that Mari can publish it for me at that time.
Meanwhile, I begin this post by paying tribute to my mother-in-law in a piece I wrote up and delivered to a gathering at the First Baptist Church of McGehee, Arkansas, on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. Parts of it were taken from other pieces I had written and which have already appeared in previous posts.
That piece is followed by a tribute I once wrote to all three of the most important women in my life.
A Truly Virtuous Woman
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”
—Proverbs 31:10 KJV
Four score years ago our heavenly Father brought forth on this earth a new life, conceived in love and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created hungry and that it was her job to feed them!
To this all of us can attest, since I am sure there is not a person here who has not benefited from that dedication, some of us for a lifetime. We can testify with John that “. . . of [her] fullness have we all received”—especially of her marvelous fresh coconut cake!
Today we are met to recognize not only the birth of this individual whom we honor today, but her whole life of dedication and service—and to give thanks to her and for her.
If anyone ever fulfilled the words of Proverbs 31, which describe the virtuous woman, it is she. Part of that description states in verse 28 that “her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”
I am sure that there must have been many times in those years that she must have felt, as someone has said, that her children and her husband—and her grandchildren and her parents and her neighbors and everyone else—just rose up and called her. Which we did, and no matter how she felt, she was always there to get up and answer our call. After all, that has been her call: the ministry of hospitality.
When I was a kid in Selma in the days before electricity and running water, my mother used to have to wash clothes outside in a black pot heated over an open fire. Those of us old enough to remember those days, and those of us young enough to marvel at them, can just imagine what it must have been like to stir and scrub those dingy clothes on a sizzling August day like today.
It was on one of those sweltering days that Mama’s hired washwoman and friend raised up from her scrub board, rubbed her aching back, and with streams of sweat pouring down her face, said, “Ooo, Miss Viv’yan, life sho’ is reg’lar, ain’t it?” It was this same washwoman/philosopher who once observed to Mama, “Ever’body tawkin’ ’bout what all dey gone do when dey gits to he’ben, they gone do dis and dey gone do dat; lawsy, Miss Viv’yan, all ah wants to do is jist git inside de do’ and sot down!”
Well, although we know she won’t do it “reg’lar” even now, at least for this one day, that is exactly what we want our guest of honor to do—to just “git inside de do’ and sot down” and for once in her life let somebody else do the work!
And as we do so, whether we rise up and call her Mrs. Williams (her married name), or Mary Elizabeth (her real name), or Bessie (her nickname), or Mimi (her grandmother name), what we are all really calling her is Blessed!”
Happy birthday, Mimi! And thanks! “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all” (Prov. 31:29 KJV).
August 5, 1995
Mimi died on January 19—Robert E. Lee’s birthday—in 2008. She will be long remembered, admired, and loved by her family and friends and all who knew her.
In 1992, more than a decade before her death, I wrote up the following tribute to all three of the important women of my life. It was published at the time by our hometown newspaper.
The “Wholly Trinity”
“A sufficient and sure method of civilization is the influence of good women.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“An ounce of mother [madre] is worth a pound of preacher [padre].”
Although as a middle-aged male, I cannot truly be said to be a feminist, I am very much of a “femiphile” —that is, a lover of women. In fact, I have a saying, “I never met a woman I didn’t like—all my friends are female.”
That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is based on the truth that the three greatest influences upon my life have been “good women,” all three one-time members of McGehee First Baptist Church.
The first was my mother, the late Vivian Peacock, who was to me for thirty-five years “God with a face of flesh.”
The second is the mother of my children, Marion Williams Peacock, to whom I was married in that same church thirty-two years ago come December 27.
And last, but not least, is my “second mother,” my “mother-in-love,” Mary Elizabeth “Bessie” Williams, still a member of that church and affectionately known to her grown grandchildren (and me) as “Mimi.”
Mama died in 1973 while working at the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home in Monticello. “Mimi” and “Mari” celebrate birthdays on September 1 and 6 respectively.
To these remaining “good women” in my life I would like to say happy birthday—and thanks for the “mom”-ery!
(originally written in) 1992)
Note: In next week’s post I will present some quotes–mine and others’–on the subject of women.