The Legacy of One Woman

One of my great-grandmothers is lovingly referred to  as “Big Mama”.  She left this earth 47 years ago and is still referred to frequently by her family. I was a baby when she passed and I talk about her like I spent time with her in her kitchen. The origin of that name I’m told came about when my Daddy was learning to talk. He and my Granny were living with Big Mama and Papa while my Grandaddy was away at The War. He had started referring to his Mama and his grandmother as “Mama”. Big Mama gently corrected him and created a new name for herself. I don’t think he was the first grandchild, but the name quickly stuck. Now nearly 50 years after her death, her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and now great-great grandchildren refer to her simply as Big Mama.

Here’s the kicker, I’m told she stood at about 5 feet tall. Not exactly what you had imagined? The legacy this grand lady left reaches far beyond her time. She was a founding member of a church that stands today. Her legacy I believe is in the family that has come from her. She had 10 children. Some stayed local, while others put down roots in Georgia, Birmingham, Tennessee, and California.  Those children gave her around 31 grandchildren, and about 50 great grandchildren. She now has family scattered to many of the 50 states. Those same family members have had the opportunities of education, careers, travel  that I’m sure would have delighted her. Not too bad for someone who never learned to drive or even traveled very far from her small rural town.

I’m told that Big Mama delighted in spending time with her family and church family. A family of 10 required her to spend a good amount of time in the kitchen and her children and grandchildren speak fondly of being in the kitchen with her. She cooked three meals a day for a busy family farm. I’ve never heard anybody say that she complained about any part of her life. One of my cousins said she remembers Big Mama singing her favorite hymns while she went about her day. From everything that I know about her, it sounds like her faith and her family were her mainstays. A heart attack that took her from this earth and the family who loved her so dearly. Yes, Big Mama, you left us with alot to think about. For that we are all grateful.


About Debbie

I have been married for 20 years to a Yankee, have two great kids, a fun and funny Southern family, and a whole bunch of friends. I try to enjoy the journey!
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10 Responses to The Legacy of One Woman

  1. Love this! What a special lady! I can only hope to leave that kind of legacy – where those who never even knew me could still talk of me with fondness. What a treasure.

  2. Sandra Wilson says:

    Beautiful Job Debbie. You and Jeff were only one when she died, but she would have been very proud of all her great grands. You are correct, she did not complain about taking care of her children and husband. And even more, she and Papa moved in with Grandma (Papa’s mother) shortly after they married (I think Mama said 3 months into marriage) and she never complained about that either. I am told that Grandma even named most of the children. Big Mama was a Creswell from Sand Mountain and her family were very musical. I tell Jeff he got his talent from her side of the family. She taught us a lot and for that I am grateful. I find myself quoting things I heard her say often to my grandchildren. We were extremely blessed to have been honored with this heritage.

  3. Debbie says:

    You’re blessed to have known something of your great-grandma — I never met any of mine, on either side. Big Mama sounds like a true Southern magnolia!

    • Debbie says:

      Thanks Debbie. While I don’t remember her, I feel like I do because of the legacy of women she influenced. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Teresa Latham says:

    My first attempt at writing for my english class in the tenth grade (I know back in the dark ages) was a “story about some one we admired”. The name of my story was Grown old with Grace- a story of Big Mama. It was an early attempt but the admiration was genuine . I always said if I could be half as good as she was I would be ok. Of course I didnt make that cut! I think we should all get together and acctually write a book of her legacy. I feel it is quite inspirational.

    • Debbie says:

      Thanks Teresa! My first writing assignment that I remember in high school was about my Granny! That say write about something you love…

  5. Charlotte Vincent says:

    Very poignant. I feel like I know Big Mama even though I never met her except especially through Kenneth’s memories plus other family members. Great piece.