I was born in 1939, the third of three children born to Berry Lee (Pop) and Lydia (Mimi) Moore. My brother Berry Lee Jr. (Bubba) was born in 1928, and our sister Marilyn was born in 1936. Shortly after my birth Mimi was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and began treatment in New Orleans under the care of Dr. James Nix, a personal friend of both Pop and Mimi. I do not know any more details of her treatment because it was too painful for Pop to relate those to me, even years later when I became old enough to understand.
As a surgeon I know the rapid advance of her disease was directly related to her pregnancy with me, and the vast majority of doctor’s then and now would have advised a therapeutic abortion for Mimi to save her life. She died at age 37 years from breast cancer in April, 1941 when Bubba was 13, Marilyn was 5 and I was 2. I have no recollection of her at all, but have been told by many people a lot of wonderful things about her life and character.
Bubba was especially close to Mimi and through the years was the one most consistent in reminding me of her Christian faith and her unfailing love for Pop and her 3 children. My Aunt Lillie Mae (Smith) once told me the following account which really caused me to choke up; “I’ll never forget one day when your Mother was near the end of her life and was barely strong enough to stand, but she was holding you in her arms. She looked into your face and with motherly tenderness said, “Oh, I just wish you knew how very much I love you.”
After Pop married our step mother Athelene West in 1943, we immediately received her as our new mother, and I called her Mommy. As I grew older and more “sophisticated” I called her Mom. Pop never openly spoke to us about Mimi while Mom was anywhere around. He still loved Mimi and missed her greatly, but out of respect to our Mom stayed silent on the matter in her presence.
After Cathy and I married and moved back to El Dorado to raise our children, there were a few occasions when Bubba would either show one of the few photographs he had of Mimi or mention a remembrance he had of her. I believe he wanted to remind us and our children of the heritage we had through our birth mother. We all certainly loved Mom (Gram Moore) who lived until she was 94 years old, and we all have wonderful memories of her. Gram Moore stories are usually a topic of some of our conversations when we are together.
Bubba departed this life in 2009 at age 81, following a short but fatal illness. Several months prior to his death while Cathy and I were in El Dorado visiting our son John, his wife Gina and our 3 grandchildren, we went to Bubba’s house to visit him and wife LaNell. As we were preparing to leave we were standing at their back door and Bubba, for some reason was speaking about heaven. He said the following, “I know I will soon be making my way to heaven and can hardly wait to see our Savior face to face. After some period of time I know I will again see our Mimi. Sometime later John, it will be time for you to make the journey, and I believe the first person to greet you after the Lord Jesus will be our Mimi. She will be anxiously awaiting you to tell you how proud she is of you. I want you to know I will also be waiting on you and will be the next to welcome you home!”
Despite Bubba’s advanced age over mine I always believed he would outlive me. He had been an avid exerciser his entire adult life, including regular long distance running and had better cardiac health than our Dad and Granddad. When he said he would be waiting on me I thought it would actually be just the opposite. I am still learning how unwise it is to try to predict one’s own or another’s departure from this life. The Word of God does teach we are to live each day in gratitude and thanksgiving to the Giver of Life and to encourage all others to follow Him. I am grateful to have had these truths reinforced by the life of my mother (Mimi) whom I don’t remember and my brother (Bubba) whom I remember well.