Thursday, November 20, 2008
Close to Nowhere
A tribute to grand ‘old’ lady
• I found out Tuesday morning that Lola Mae Autry had passed away. I was sad all that day and probably will continue to be for a while.
I didn’t know Lola Mae that well, but I felt like I did. I imagine a lot of people felt that way about her. She was just one of those “instant relatives.”
I met Lola Mae years ago, while writing a story on “Christmas in the Cotton Patch,” at Abel’s Store on Hwy. 5, between Hickory Flat and Ashland. Mr. and Mrs. McGaughy and Lola Mae and assorted family members built, lit up and choreographed “Christmas in the Cotton Patch,” as a family group.
I met Lola Mae and the McGaughy’s in Abel’s Store and they graciously revealed all their “secrets” involved in the spectacular light and music display -- focusing on the birth of Christ as “the reason for the season.”
Through the years Lola Mae and I did several stories together. I was always fascinated and could sit in her cozy home and listen to her tell stories about her trips to Russia, mission trips, her church, late husband Ewart, their family and her many, many occupations and hobbies.
Lola Mae wrote several books and always gave me a copy -- autographed of course. She even tracked down an old one, “The Turtle and the Oak,” so I’d have a complete collection.
She and I laughed about our similarities when she wrote her book “Please God, I’m a City Girl -- What Am I Doing In the County?”
Lola Mae was an amazing photographer, a very talented pianist and organist and a gifted writer. And, I think, most important to her, she loved her God and her church.
We couldn’t print her entire obituary in the newspaper and I always hate some of the stuff we have to leave out (space is always a problem, so we have to make our rules and then abide by them, whether we like them or not).
At the time of her death, she was teaching 22 piano students. She had been organist at Pine Grove Baptist Church for 62 years! She also taught Sunday school, directed the choir and was organist and pianist.
Lola Mae was also named “Ageless Hero” by Blue Cross Blue Shield. She deserves to be remembered that way.
Have I mentioned in here anywhere that she was 92?
• Christmas in the Cotton Patch is no more, and it seems that everyone else is bound and determined to start Christmas in September.
Many stores don’t have Thanksgiving displays out -- no room, Christmas “stuff” is everywhere. Halloween even was shoved out of the way in a couple stores.
Thanksgiving is perhaps the best holiday of the year for me -- most of my family is around, we eat and talk and sleep and walk it all off and play games and eat some more.
My granddaughters love to help me cook and they can eat pumpkin pie until I worry they will explode.
I give thanks every day -- even more so on Thanksgiving Day!
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