2. Erma Myrle Bentley, My Grandmother
Maw Maw Bentley was a powerful influence in my life. She was my mom’s mom. All of my other grandparents passed away before I was age 7, but I enjoyed her until she passed away in 2001. She was age 81. I was 37. She called me “Toddy boy”! I never knew her not to have some Wrigley’s Spearmint or Doublemint Gum in her purse. She had the best pound cake I ever ate and the coldest milk I ever drank. No one ever wondered what she thought about an issue…she spoke openly and plainly about what was on her mind!
Maw Maw was the most passionate and devout Christian I ever knew. I remember being outside in the yard and hearing her pray inside her house. She read her Bible daily. She took me shopping and bought me a new suit and a new pair of Florsheim shoes to wear to preach my first sermon. She said, “My Toddy Boy’s gonna look nice! And you’d better keep those shoes shined too, you here me?” (It was more a command than a question!) As I moved away from my hometown, she reminded me, “I don’t care where you go or how successful you become, you’d better not forget where you came from!” That was her way of saying, “Don’t get too big for your britches!”
She faced a lot of difficulty in this life. She was born in 1920, but as a teenager she grew up in the great depression. It marked her thinking for life. She worked at the Cotton mill from her youth till she retired. She had married at the age of 15. Her firstborn son strangled to death on a bean, as she held him in her arms. She watched her 1st husband, my Paw Paw, die of lung cancer when she was just 49. She watched her second husband die with a heart attack, just a few months after she retired so they could travel together. After he died she moved next to mom and dad and was in and out of our house on a daily basis. Her sassy personality was a treasure, and brought lots of fun into my life. I enjoyed breakfast with just the two of us. She was the matriarch of our family. Our memory of her continues to bring us laughter, and a commitment to stay close as a family and to persevere!
She taught me how to persevere through hardship!
She taught me to be devoted to Jesus!
She taught me to love my family!
She taught me to never forget my roots and simple beginnings!
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