A Tribute to My Mother, Valera Tidwell

In memory of my mother, Valera Tidwell


You’re 5 yrs old…

Mom calls you in so she can measure you for that Sunday dress she’s making you….again. Geez, why can’t she just let me play?? *Sigh*

Life is SO hard….


You’re 9 yrs old…

You are mad at her for some reason you can’t even remember now. So, you and your sister( Rhonda) are going to run away. You tell her you are leaving and she doesn’t even flinch. You both go outside and hide around the side of the house where you think she can’t see you and wait on her to come after you, but she doesn’t. You can’t believe she doesn’t care. Every now and then, you poke your head in the window to see her steadily sewing. Eventually, you get tired, and go back in, and try to act like nothing has happened. Somewhere down the road, she tells you that she knew where you were the entire time and that she could see us peeking through the window, and that she wasn’t going to let you leave. You feel as if your mother doesn’t understand you…

Will life always be this hard?


You’re 10 years old…

You decide you want to smoke, because you’re old enough now. She catches you one day and says nothing, but throws you a pack of cigarettes and tells you that if you’re going to do it, not to hide it. So, you take the pack and begin to smoke them, one by one. Well into your third one, you begin to feel your stomach churning, until you finally throw up. Suddenly, the cigarettes don’t look so appealing anymore. Well-played Mama.

You knew it wasn’t that hard to get your point across…


You’re 12 yrs old…

She is gone with her boyfriend . So, you and your sister decide to have some friends over. There is alcohol, so you think you will drink your little broken heart away from the man who would later become your husband.  You don’t drink much, but it is effective. The dark liquor is no match for your virgin veins. Soon, you are throwing up violently, and she walks in in the midst. She tells you later how mad she was, but she still holds your head while you cry and puke, but does take some pleasure in your hangover. That is the last time you will ever drink dark liquor.

Life just seemed hard….


You’re 14 yrs old…

A child bride and now very soon, a mother. No one told you the pain would be this bad! She’s right there holding your hand. A new generation is born and it doesn’t take much time to figure out how unconditional a mother’s love is.

But man, sometimes it can be really hard…


You’re 17 yrs old…

You’ve just suffered 1st-3rd degree burns from your pressing job at Higgins Slacks. The pain is terrible, and she’s always close by, changing your dressings and watching over you.

Life is very hard…


You’re 30 yrs old…

A simple outpatient surgery turns into a fight for your life. Every time you wake up, you see her worried face above you. She wipes your brow with concern showing on her face. Her presence soothes you…

Life is hard….


You’re 32 yrs old…

Your 17- year marriage has ended. You’re devastated. She’s there to console you every step of the way. Assuring you that life will not only go on, but be much better once the grieving process was over. She was always right, but for now….

Life is extremely hard….


You’re 40 yrs old…

Your body is changing and you approach this phase in your life. She’s there for the hysterectomy and the craziness that follows.

Life is crazy hard….


You’re 44 yrs old…

Mom isn’t doing so well. Due to complications of a triple bypass, she battles to come back stronger than ever. It’s now your turn to be there for her. You learn just how much she means to you. You forget the stubbornness, silly arguments and petty things that once drove you crazy. You learn that despite what you’ve always thought, she’s ALWAYS been there. Although she’s down, never count her out, for this woman has had to fight all of her life. And she comes back with a vengeance….but whew, that was really a close one…

Life can be hard….


You’re 48 yrs old…

She’s now in the midst of the battle for her life. One that she won’t be able to come back from. Your role has now reversed. You are the caregiver. You hold her hand while she hurts, console her when she cries. You watch her frustration as she loses her ability to do all the things she loved and once took for granted. You have to watch her lose that independence that was the heart and soul of her. Her dignity is stripped from her as there comes a time that she cannot even perform the simplest tasks. Losing her mobility is the final straw for her, as the fight begins to leave her. You are there for her every step of the way, although sometimes it nearly kills you watching her steady decline.

Life is harder than you could ever imagine….


You’re 49 yrs old…

Her battle is ending…her final moments are upon you. This is the hardest time of your life as you watch her struggle for each last breath. You sing her favorite hymns softly and cradle her head in your arms as you watch the light go out of her beautiful blue eyes. Your tears fall like rain as you feel that last little bit of life slip out of her.

So many words you wanted to say. So many moments along the way you wish you could take back. The times you felt she was a nuisance in your earlier years, the times you felt she embarrassed you in front of your friends in your teens. That stubborn streak she had that could drive you insane. And that fiery temper that could lead to some of the pettiest arguments between us.

And then you realize just how much like her you really are. That’s why there was always friction along the way. At one time, you would’ve hated coming to this realization, but now it makes you stand proud. You are your mother’s daughter, and because of that, a part of her will live on.

I just wish I could’ve told her proud I was of her. The strong essence of life she possessed. Her ability to make a masterpiece out of a piece of cardboard. How she could take a few scraps and turn them into beautiful works of art. How she could take a blank canvas and turn it into a gorgeous landscape. How she could find just the right words to create some of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read. Her witty repertoire, that golden sense of humor, and those sweet melodies she could sing. Everything about her was the very essence of life and she touched so many people throughout hers. And with all of the hardship she faced in her life, she never gave up.

I look down at my hands, and they are hers. I look in the mirror and I see her staring back at me. I can just see her saying “Don’t make the same mistakes I made along the way. Use God in every aspect of your life and one day, we will be together again.” I cling to this thought as I struggle with the thought of losing her. Of never being able to pick up the phone and call her when something happens. I miss her terribly, and when the longing nearly overcomes me, the reassurance that she suffers no longer is my saving grace.

She looks absolutely beautiful in that casket, wearing her favorite peach outfit, or coral, as she referred to it as. Her skin has a deep sun-kissed glow from the hours she sat in the sun trying to “warm her bones”. She wears very little makeup because she never needed it. Her skin is almost flawless, but then again, she never did look sick.

Her casket is draped with one of the most beautiful quilts she ever made, hand-sewn and without a pattern.

Mama never really needed a pattern, she would just look at something and say “I can make that”…and she did. She would have been more than pleased with the colorful flowers that covered the church. She always did love those bold colors. The lovely service draws to a close. It was a very fitting tribute from those who knew her best. One that surely made her smile down as she watched from the Heavens above.

The coffin is now closed as we exit the church and walk to the grave site, during which I had a little talk with God that went something like this…

“Thank you, God for giving me such a wonderful mother. I know you created her just for me. She was prefect for the job, although it took me a long time to see it. I guess this is proof that Your way is always the right way, even if it’s sometimes seen in hindsight. I’m giving her back to you now, so please take good care of her until I can be with her again. But I know you will. Thank you for allowing me to see her through her through this journey called life and don’t be surprised when I call on you for strength every now and then. Have patience with her as she tries to re-decorate Heaven and sew beautiful angel wings. I can tell you from experience that the end result will be nothing short of a masterpiece. And every now and then, please let me feel the flutter of her hand, or presence of her spirit so I don’t forget what it was like. Most of all, please let me catch the soft notes of her beautiful voice in the breeze when I’m having a bad day. In all of these things, I pray. Amen.”

Valera Tidwell April 3, 1949 – June 26, 2017

5 thoughts on “A Tribute to My Mother, Valera Tidwell”

  1. All I can say is I truly can say, beautifully written. I would love to have been a fly on the wall. I went through many of these same things with Karen. Melissa was always my calm child. Karen was a follower and Melissa was a leader. I can see my girls in you and Rhonda. I well remember your mom and dad coming into the store with matching yellow pants and yellow and white checked shirts that she had made. I was amazed at her skill with a machine. I don’t know where I was going with this, I do not have your skill with words nor your mother’s skill with a machine, but after reading your mother’s obituary I just had to respond in some way. I wanted to say all the right things, but all I can say is I always enjoyed being around you mom and I love you and Rhonda. I’ve also cried a boat load of tears.
    If you want to talk my cell number is 256-354-0354. You can give the number to Rhonda.

  2. Beautlfully said. I know she is watching over you and Rhonda and is so proud of the women you have become.

  3. That is a beautiful tribute to your beautiful sweet Mama….She is truly being missed…..May God give you and your family strength until you’re reunited….

  4. Beautiful heart ❤️ felt words. She prepared you and Rhonda in prior days of her earthly escape to glorious day of Heaven . I know the feeling been in your shoes ? even on my Mama’s day to go the other side of eternity the Lord was giving me subtle hints but didn’t see them until later and now they are precious memories I hold dear as to know JESUS is forever with us in our time of need. We sung silly ? songs to our Mama’s final moments with us as we did as children ? . Here is a thought that brought comfort to me by a friend. She said how fitting that you sung your Mama into heaven as she took her final breath. My thoughts and prayers ?? are with you and Rhonda as you take one day at a time and EVERY day is one day closer to that Happy ? Reunion Day !!!

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