I could not have asked for a better mother. It’s why my heart is filled with great sadness and great joy today. The mixed emotions are because my mother, Clara Coleman, passed away Sunday night. But the joy comes from knowing this incredible and beautiful woman lived to be 94 years young and is now in a much better place. She was such a blessing to my brother, Philip, and me and she put up a brave fight to the very end not wanting to leave us.
Anyone who knew my mom realized how much she loved her family and close friends. Even though my opinion is biased, she was an amazing person. Some of you who had a chance to meet her will remember a vibrant person who enjoyed a good conversation and a good laugh. For those who didn’t have a chance to get to know her, she also enjoyed the art of cooking and sharing recipes with others. She seemed to know those recipes, along with the right ingredients, were a metaphor for life in bringing people closer together, if you’d just take the time to do so.
For decades she worked for the Tuscaloosa County Cooperative Extension Service. Her job was to go out to different communities and teach families how to prepare affordable and nutritional meals. She took pleasure in doing so and enjoyed meeting people and being invited into their homes. She was also a substitute teacher sometimes working at the same school where my late father and her husband was an elementary school principal.
Through my eyes and those of my brother, we were so fortunate to witness a super couple who just happened to our mom and dad. Our mom’s love was unconditional. There were no strings attached and she could be strict when she needed to be, especially regarding her youngest son (that would be me). She could be very patient when I was practicing on my saxophone sometimes out of tune and hitting the wrong note to eventually becoming an all-state saxophonist in high school. She was there when I got my driver’s license. She and my dad were there watching me as journalism and communications student at the University of Alabama and even traveled with me to Memphis, Tennessee decades ago when I had my job interview at WREG News Channel Three.
Throughout the years, my mom was my best friend and was always someone I looked up to in life. We talked on the phone daily and sometimes several times a day about national and local politics, and her love of Alabama football. She was never shy about sharing her opinion about the recent quarterback battle between Bama quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts.
She kept up with Pop Culture, and at 94 years young, occasionally dropped names such as Usher, P-Diddy, Jennifer Hudson, J-Lo, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and many others.
She took so much pride in following my career and my brother’s career in TV News. She watched by brother every evening anchoring the news on WVUA 23. She told me often he was the best on TV here in Alabama and he was and still is. Nonetheless, it seemed to mean so much to her when I gave her my first Emmy award. To me, she deserved it and earned it.
She was quite the journalist and writer herself. About two years ago, she began writing a book she called “The Little Girl Who Had To Be A Woman.” It was about her life as a child taking care of her siblings and her father because her mother was paralyzed and wasn’t able to do so. She was always there for anyone who needed help and she never abandoned her family and friends. Through difficult times and good times, she was there for weddings, funerals or just to share a kind word or share advise when someone needed encouragement.
One of many positive things she instilled in my brother and me was to be there for others. We tried to be there for her until the end. As my brother, who did a remarkable job as as her primary caregiver for several decades, and I were about to leave the Hospice of West Alabama after she peacefully passed away Sunday night, one of her many nurses looked at us and said, “I’ve never seen two sons take better care of their mother.” That was the ultimate compliment for us. You see, we did it out of love and respect for our mom and because it was the right thing to do as a person. It’s what she would have done for others. It’s what families or caring people do whether they share the same DNA or not.
As I conclude my thoughts, I know I could not have asked for a better mother. She took pride in being a lady, a strong woman, a hard worker, a friend, a wife and a mother who is now in a better place enjoying a new journey and sharing with others a recipe with all the right ingredients. Those ingredients being memories of family and friends like you and me, and reflecting on living life to the fullest and with purpose.
Thanks for your support and kind words,