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 thirty-seven years from the disease in April, 1941 when Bubba was thirteen, Marilyn was five and I was one year old. 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 three 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 ninety-four 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 eighty-one years 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 three 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.
your bro was a fine man,roxie could have gotten a job making more money but she chose to stay with him because of the Christian man he was
Thanks for your comments Gerald. Roxie was sure a wonderful asset and blessing to the Moore Clinic. I trust you are both doing well.
Your parents lived near Mother while they were building their house on Madison. Mother was a pre-schooler, a couple of years older than your sister and all my life I heard her talk with great fondness of the original Lydia Moore. Your Mimi made Mother feel special, like they had a real friendship. At the time, my grandmother was battling her own health issues and wasn’t around much for her little girl Nancy. Lydia probably knew. Whatever the case, whenever my mother talked of your mother, I sensed her appreciation was deep and true. By now, I’m sure they have caught up on old times as they together wait on both of us to join them… someday. And yes, reading about Berry Lee’s words brought tears. Good tears, though.
I never knew that about your mother, Todd. I wish I had spoken with her about Mimi. Pop used to talk about their first home on Euclid which Bubba called “the little black house.” It had a dark color but don’t think it was actually black. The relationship Mimi had with your Mother is a wonderful reminder of the importance of showing genuine kindness to everyone and especially children who need to feel loved and appreciated.
I have really enjoyed your blog with its memories of your family and Eldorado. I’m a little younger than you having graduated from EHS fifty years ago. My father was Robert Garison and Eula Garison, and were members of First Presbyterian Church. Even though I didn’t return after finishing my education, Eldorado is still home! Keep writing, you have a great talent for storytelling.
Thanks for the encouragement Bob. El Dorado has surely changed a lot in the past 50 years. Cathy and I still consider it home although we really love living in Branson where we also have family. I started writing this blog as a collection of stories to eventually put in a book for our children and grandchildren so they might know what life was like for us in the past. It has been fun remembering.
Uncle John, Thank you so much for such a sweet article! I checked my email right before I went to bed late last night and was going to wait and read it this morning until I scrolled down, saw Dad and Lydia’s picture and the title! Whew–of course I started crying immediately. I had already been thinking about Dad a lot yesterday. I was in the grocery store and saw an elderly man that reminded me so much of Dad. He was standing behind his shopping cart fumbling with a small pile of coupons. The way he was built, dressed, moved, etc. looked so much like Dad. I had big tears in my eyes as it made me miss him all the more. It is such a blessing to have you writing about all these memories of Dad and the family. I continually thank the Lord for my Christian heritage. I want to always be grateful and I want my children to be thankful also. We love you and thank the Lord Jesus for you, Cathy, and your family! Thank you for helping us never forget all that God has done!
As I was remembering the scene of Bubba speaking to Cathy and me at the back door of your home, I could hardly write the words without tears. As a younger man I used to chuckle at Pop and later Bubba when they would remember things of the past with tears. It must be genetic for us Rachel! 🙂 Cathy and I surely love you, David and your children, and are so very thankful we have stayed in touch through the years. You have blessed us more than you will ever know.
Thank you Dr. Moore.
Thanks for your comments Randy. I am looking forward to meeting with you in El Dorado sometimes soon. We’ll have lots of stories to share!