My Beloved Mae Mae

This has been a hard week, full of mixed emotions.  On Friday, April 12, we said goodbye to one of the greatest people I have known.  My beloved great-aunt, Della Mae Pollard, went to be with the Lord.  She has been in Assisted Living at Life Care for the last six years and she suffered from dementia.  It made it difficult for me for the last several years because she hasn't remembered me.  Even though she may not have known me, she would always smile and act like she did.  I felt like I lost her before I really did, but the finality of it all really hit me hard.  I know death is a part of life, and even though she lived a long life of ninety years, it is still difficult to say goodbye. 

She was a constant for me.  She was like my grandmother since my dad's parents both passed away when he was young.  She helped to raise him and my uncle, so in every way, she was my grandmother.  We had a special relationship and I loved her dearly.  We were very close because I spent almost as much time at her house as I did my own.  She never married or had children of her own, so she poured her life into her two nephews, me and my cousin, Laura.  I was the only one, though, who lived in Sparta.  My mom had a demanding job causing her to work many late hours, and I spent lots of time with Della Mae, especially during my childhood.

There are so many memories that flood my mind as I think back on the time I was privileged to have with her.  We spent many hours of doing puzzles, playing card games including Old Maid (which wasn't her favorite since she said she was and "Old Maid").  She told me stories at bed time about her childhood, and I would have her repeat them over and over again.  She told them with the same enthusiasm as the first time. 

One of my fondest memories is the special way she made apples for me.  She would cut off the skin and slice the apples arranging them in a flower shape on the plate.  She wouldn't let me see it until she brought it to me because she always had a "surprise" in the middle.  It was something sweet, whatever she could find in her cabinets.  It was just a sweet, gesture of love.  I do this now for my boys occasionally.  I don't think they appreciate it as much as I did though.  I would request them every time I was there.  She spoiled me, really.  One time I kept asking for more until I had eaten three apples.  I kept asking, and she kept fixing them for me.  It wasn't long after eating all those apples that I ended up in the bathroom!  haha.  She just laughed at that one. 
Julie did the sweetest thing for me.  Instead of flowers, she got me a basket of apples because she knew that Della Mae made them in a special way for me.  It got me choked up.
Every time my children hide in the clothing racks, I think of the countless times I did this to Della Mae.  I could hear the panic in her voice when she would call my name and just giggle.  I now know this isn't funny because I'm getting a dose of my own medicine. 
More than anything, though, Della Mae lived a life before me of true Christianity.  She was such an example for me in so many ways, but this was the most valuable.  In the mornings when I spent the night, she would read to me out of her "Daily Bread" devotionals.  Many times she would have me read it to her instead, trying to teach me that I needed to read my Bible daily.  She would speak often of what she was reading in the bible at the time as she read the Bible through many times.  She is where I first heard about God speaking to Elijah in a "still, small voice."  She loved the Bible and cherished the words.  She was also a prayer warrior and she modeled "pray without ceasing" for me many times.  She just had an open dialogue with God.  One time when she was praying, she said "bye" instead of "amen".  We both just laughed, but when I think about it she really just knew Him well and conversed with Him about everything.  I feel that I have lost my greatest intercessor here on this earth.

I spent lots of time at First Baptist Church with her, where she was the secretary for 20 1/2 years...and she would let you forget the half.  If I would go with her on Sunday mornings, I would go to the Sunday Class that she taught.  It was the "older" ladies of the church.  She told me her next step was heaven.  haha.  She loved her church and the members.  She poured her life into many ministries over her lifetime. 
This was taken at her retirement party.

I have many fond memories of holidays at her house, especially Christmas.  I would usually help her do some preparations with cleaning, putting up the tree, and decorating.  She loved having everyone together.  One thing I really miss are her homemade dinner rolls.  I regret not getting her recipe before she forgot how to make them.  They were small and man, could we put those things away!! They were so good! 
This is one of my favorite pictures of her. 
She used to make us go around the room and each person open just one present at a time.  She wanted to watch everyone open their presents, and she wanted to make it last longer.  It was torture as a child, but now I understand.  She just wanted to take it all in.
 Could my pants jacked up much higher??
She also wrote lots of poems.  This is one that I found that she wrote was about Christmas.

The Day After Christmas
by: Della Mae Pollard

'Twas the day after Christmas
And all through the house
There were gifts and clutter.
But there wasn't a mouse!

Only ribbons that were hung on the tree with care.
No gifts were left under the tree to share.
Gone were my kin, and their jokes that were funny.
Gone was the laughter (and all of my money)!

Cheer up, my loved ones, a New Year's on the way.
Bringing with it a brand new Christmas day.
Let us remember mid the gifts and the mirth-
That we truly were celebrating our dear Savior's birth.

Our last Christmas all together.

She went into the hospital one week before she passed away for pneumonia.  Dr. Drake said is was very small and she should recover, but given her age you just never know.  She went down hill quickly over the next few days.  I went to see her a few times and each time, she was getting worse and looking more frail.  On Wednesday afternoon, I was doing some bible study reading in the book of Genesis about the first sin and the curses given for that sin.  In the middle of that study, I received a phone call from Della Mae's nurse to call the family in because she just didn't think she was going to be able to turn around from this and there wasn't anything else she could do since she wasn't eating.  I went immediately to the hospital and it was so painfully clear of the curse of death so near.  She was struggling just to breathe and in an almost unconscious state.  After several days of this, it is exhausting emotionally, and I just wanted her to go on and let go of this world and enjoy what she has lived her whole life for...eternal life.  Yet, when it happened, it ripped my heart out.  I wasn't there at the time, but I'm thankful my dad, Charlie, Melody, and Melody's sister were there as she breathed her last breath. 

I am so very thankful for the hope of our future in Christ and that He is the victor over death.  I know without a doubt that she is now in the presence of the Lord and she will receive a new body that is perfect.  There will be no more using a walker, wrestling each morning to put on your support hose, knee pain, memory loss, or swollen ankles.  I can't wait to see how many crowns she will be able to lay at the feet of Jesus. 

In 2004, Della Mae wrote down her family history.  I thought it was interesting that she talked mostly of others and very little of herself.  She was one of the most selfless people I knew.

Della Mae was born on July 8, 1922 in White County, Tennessee to Beecher and Laura Pollard. 
 Her brother, James Dallas Pollard, who was born on April 20, 1920, welcomed her also and this family of four had a happy home with lots of love. 

Della Mae was enrolled in the Sparta City Elementary where her first teacher was Willie Gist.  For a short time, during the Great Depression the family moved to the farm and Dallas and Della Mae attended the county school at Center Point for a brief time, but they graduated the City School and enrolled in White County High School. 

At mid-term of her first year in High School, Della Mae became very ill with Rheumatic Fever and had to remain at home the last half of that year to recover.  She returned the next year and graduated in May of 1942, during World War II.
When she applied for entrance at Carson-Newman College there was no available room.  She took a Civil Service Exam and was hired at the Office of Price Administration at the White County Court House.  Her job there was with Rationing.

Della Mae’s father and brother had purchased an automobile business and in 1945, the bookkeeper at their business passed away.  So Della Mae, after some lessons in accounting, took that job, working with her father and brother at the Pollard Motor Company.
Following Dallas’ graduation from White County High School, Dallas entered college at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville to major in music.  His college work was interrupted when he volunteered for the Army Air Force and left for service in 1942.  He was sent to California for training, then to Gulfport, Mississippi, and finally to North Carolina. 

From there he called home and wanted us to come and meet him.  He never got a furlough while in service so we had not seen him since he went into service.  At this time during the war many things were rationed including gasoline and tires, and the speed limit was 35 miles per hour!

We went on a Grayhound bus.  There was only one hotel in the small town, and we could only stay one night.  He did not tell us, but he had to ship out for overseas two days later.  He went to the European area, England, Sicily, etc…  His plane was a C-47 and he named it “Laura Mae.”  I wrote to him every day and we went to the Post Office every day to see if he had written us.  Sometimes we would not receive a letter for days and then maybe two or three at the time.  Dallas spent three years in the service without a furlough. 

It was a very happy day in 1945 when we heard that the war was over!  A few days later he called our daddy at work.  He had arrived in New York and would go to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia for his discharge and then he would ride a bus home!  What a happy day when my brother walked into our home and gathered was the three of us for a wonderful “group hug.”  My brother was back home!!  God is so good.  He answered our prayers for my brother’s safety.

Dallas was an ordained deacon at First Baptist Church, Sparta.  He was also choir director there for several years.  During this time he was called up to bring his choir to sing for funerals many times. 

Dallas was very proud of his two boys, Jim and Charlie.  He loved them very much. 
The day he was taken by ambulance to Nashville to the Veteran’s Hospital, he called his daddy into his room and asked that he would see that the boys would be taken care of.  Oleta was very sick at the time with cancer.  Her condition was terminal and she died six months later in South Haven, Mississippi where she had moved after Dallas had died.  A funeral was held for here there in Mississippi, and then she was returned to Sparta to the Hunter Funeral Home for a funeral and burial in the Highland Cemetery beside Dallas.

In April of 1965, Dallas passed away.  He had Lymphatic Acute Leukemia.  His wife, Oleta, passed away six months later on October 27, leaving two sons, Jim, ten years old and Charlie, eight years old.

Following Dallas’ death, Oleta sold the home and the Kindergarten building and moved to South Haven, Mississippi where she bought a house next door to her brother and her mother.  Oleta had been sick with cancer over and year and had two or more surgeries before Dallas became ill.  Both Dallas and Oleta are buried in Highland Cemetery in Sparta. 

Their first child, a baby boy born pre-mature, died only a few days after birth.  He was named James Dallas Pollard, Jr.


Della Mae with her parents.
Della Mae with her Sparkman cousins.
This is a precious memory.  We sang "Unclouded Day" together.
I went the year before last once a week to teach the residents Christmas songs for a performance.  It enjoyed having Della Mae in my choir.
Meeting Lane for the first time.

I will miss her so.
Peace on Earth
by Della Mae Pollard
After the clouds, the sunshine,
After the winter, the spring,
After the shower, rainbows.
For life is a changeable thing;
After the night, the morning,
Bidding all darkness cease.
After life's cares and sorrows,
The comforts and sweetness of peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment