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Leila S. Case: The joyful chapters of motherhood

Tomorrow is set aside to honor mom on her special day. It goes without question that we love and respect mom every day — after all she’s the first lady in your life.
Unfortunately, I only knew my mother the first 12 years of my life. She died too young of hypertension — a disease that is easily controlled with proper medication today. Although she was ill for months before her death, I wasn’t made aware of this by my kind and gentle father nor my two older sisters who were more like mothers to me than sisters, nor my three “old maid” aunts.
Therefore, I grew up being “mothered,” sheltered and well loved by a bevy of doting women who made my childhood a magical world filled with fantasy and make believe and absolute sunshine and roses and new adventures that took me down happy paths every day.
So, when my mother died it was like a bomb exploding in my heart — it was a life-changing event but like all issues of this magnitude, time and faith heal and life marches forward to better days; however, there is still a small hole in my heart. It was my first but not the last major heartbreak in life.
Then my father remarried and added another woman to my parade of surrogate mothers. Lucy, my stepmother, walked into my life when I was a young and very vulnerable teen. She became a major factor in shaping my future and she helped me over the tough bumps along the road of adolescence and although I didn’t think or appreciate it at the time, I came to value her advice.
She was not at all like the mean stepmother in “Cinderella,” nor was she all candy and sugar coated. A veteran elementary school teacher with a wealth of knowledge on every subject at her fingertips, she understood “spoiled brat” status; however, she was gentle yet firm and guided me through a difficult age, providing me with valuable advice I use to this day. I didn’t balk, but sometimes I silently rebelled, only to ultimately change because I knew all too well who held the cards. We had a good relationship, and I appreciated her and told her so.
Then when I married and thought I was free of domineering women, my mother-in-law, Ruth, entered the picture. She was the epitome of a strong-willed, forthright woman and became a major force in my life, advising me wisely.
Soon I was blessed with the joys and sorrows of being mother to three brilliant, beautiful children of my own to enjoy, love, nurture and guide. And I hovered and protected and guided them, broke up squabbles and boyfriends. Fortunately, through their growing-up years I had the good help of their father, and together, we reared a happy brood that today has families of their own.
I gained another title in the book on mothers when my children married, and today I enjoy the pleasure of being mother-in-law to the beautiful and brilliant Anne Barrett. And as soon as I said “I do” when I remarried I was instantly bestowed with yet another title: stepmother to two beautiful and brilliant daughters, Lori Case Shivers and Stacey Case Stout.
I have loved and enjoyed every minute of each chapter in my “Mommy Dearest” book from the first on being mothered myself to the final and best chapter of all: the gift of being a doting, proud grandmother to grandchildren to whom I am known as “Lei-Lei.”
Out and about: It is with mixed emotions that we wave “so long” to well-known Americus citizen Betty Hewitt, who is moving to St. Simons Island. She has sold her house and is moving to the coast, where her daughter Debbie and two sons reside. Good luck in your future, Betty. We will miss seeing your smiling face at Calvary Episcopal Church and all about town. I met Betty and her late husband Dick Hewitt, president of The Tog Shop, when we moved to Americus in the early 1970s. We became good friends through the Newcomers Club’s gourmet group, and Calvary Episcopal, where she was church secretary for years. Betty has been active in so many of this community’s organizations from Newcomers to Sumter Players, the Ladies Literary Club and others. Betty’s son, Brian Hewitt, who grew up here, and his family live in Monroe. Laura and Jimmy Faircloth and Nancy and Mark Hayes had an exciting excursion a couple of weeks ago. They traveled to New England and explored points of interest in Boston, Cape Cod and Maine and enjoyed delicious lobster the area is known for. A group of Americus members of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America attended the annual state meeting of that organization last Thursday in Columbus. They were Jane Arnold, Jean Buchanan, Billie Gatewood, Ann Harris, Nancy Jones, Wilma Kinslow, JoAnn Pope, Mary Torbert, Jerry Crisp, Kathy Ray, now of Auburn, Alabama, and myself. Americus was hopping with activities last weekend including Sumter Historic Trust’s annual spring party, the  May Day tournament at the GSW Golf Center, which attracted some 80 golfers including out of towners — I have fond memories of that event from past years. Amy’s School of Dance students performed on stage at the Rylander Theatre at the school’s spring recital. Our star was Clara Grace Shivers. Congratulations to grandson Beau Barrett, who graduated Georgia Southern University with the master’s degree in business accounting yesterday in Statesboro. He has accepted a position with an accounting firm in Bluffton, S.C. Go Beau!

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.