Leila Case: A plethora of women shaped my life

Published 7:11 am Sunday, May 7, 2017

I have had more than one mother in my lifetime; actually, a coterie of women — my own mother, step mother, sisters and aunts.
The second Sunday in May is set aside for the annual celebration of Mother’s Day of which we’re reminded in countless ways and here I am hawking it again.
My mother, Sarah Frances Hightower Sisson, unfortunately died when I was only 12 — a pivotal time of my life; however, others walked into my life not to take her place but to provide tender, loving care for my younger brother and me.
My sisters, Florrie and “Sister,” much my senior and already married, and my maiden aunts, Nannine and Louise, and cousin Doucette, lived across the street. I spent a great deal of time with these three, especially during long, hot summer months when school was out. Some days I ate lunch at home then again at my aunts’ as well as at Willie Mae’s, their cook. I recall the delicious “egg bread,” collards and “pot likker” served at my aunts’ while my favorite fare at Willie Mae’s was the big, white fluffy “cat’s head” biscuits, dripping in melted butter and smeared with cane syrup. All of this was topped off with hand churned vanilla ice cream, my third dessert for the day, and made with the pure cream from the cow that lived in the barn. No wonder I was called a butter ball.
Then my father remarried and I suddenly had a step mother. An elementary school teacher, Lucy taught me in second grade and as my step mother educated me on life’s lessons. Initially, I silently balked, but thank heavens I sat up and paid attention. I later appreciated the knowledge and skills she imparted that ranged the gamut from cooking and sewing, efficiently packing for a trip, gardening and learning the names of flowers, trees and plants. After college and marriage, I told her how much I appreciated her mentoring.
When I became the mother of Helen, Margaret and Mark, I tried to teach them the realities of life for I didn’t want them to be a day dreamer as I had been. Thankfully they grew up to be responsible adults and now have families of their own.
However, when I became a grandmother it was a different story altogether — I enjoy pampering my grandchildren when I can.
During the past weeks as I recuperate from major surgery, I have ironically discovered that my children, along with Lori, my daughter by marriage, take charge at times, but not for long.
Out and about has not been “out and about” of late. Some of the Americus Town Committee of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America — GA and their spouses attended festivities related to the organization’s recent annual state meeting in Macon. They are Anne and Mark Barrett, Jane and Ricky Arnold, Karen and Greg Austin of Americus and Kathy Ray of Auburn, Alabama. Dr. Alex Riccardi was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Lindsey Landreneau to Blake Whatley in Starkville, Mississippi, last weekend. Lindsey was Alex’ roommate at Darton College her freshman year. Accompanying her was Morgan Whaley, the hairdresser and makeup artist to the bride and her attendants.
Get well wishes to Dr. Gatewood Dudley who is recuperating from heart surgery; and happy birthday wishes to Brooks Nettum, Amelia Cohen, Tiffany Dean, Marshall Wooten and Charles Kinnamon.
Dates to remember include Sumter Players’ final production of the season, “Heaven Can Wait” at the Rylander Theatre with opening curtain at 8 p.m. Thursday and continuing through a Sunday matinee. Do you have a rising fifth- or sixth grader who wants to know more about local history? Then Sumter Historic Trust has the answer for you. The Trust’s second annual and award winning Summer History Day Camp will be held June 19-23. It will be an awesome experience. The Trust has won the Georgia Historical Society’s prestigious Roger K. Warlick Local History Achievement Award in the category of programs for the 2016 Summer History Camp. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of public history by Affiliate Chapters of the Georgia Historical Society will be presented at the Lee Council House at 6 p.m. May 18 and all Trust members and anyone interested in learning more about the organization is invited.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.