Family tradition celebrates life of mother on her birthday

Published 6:53 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

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“These Old Hands.”

The words displayed on the easel in the lobby of Sisters Restaurant on Thursday caused pause for most who entered. The cameo image of a young, woman with dark hair was in contrast to “these old hands” about which she wrote.

The poem and picture were in celebration of what, would have been, Juanita Golden’s 101st birthday.

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“All of us, all of Mama’s children, wanted to begin a tradition of celebrating her birthday every year on January11 beginning today,” said Geraldine Golden.

The Golden “girls” and their brother, Kenny, celebrated the life of their mother by sharing their memories of her – some brought laughter, others caused eyes to mist.

Juanita Golden grew up in Corinth, near Josie.

Her folks had a grocery store stocked with most items that country folks needed. A gas pump was conveniently located out front. Golden’s Grocery was a busy place, so growing up, Juanita had daily opportunities for interaction with people of all ages and plenty of candy from the grocery’s glass jar.

When she was older, the rural lifestyle and the people Juanita Golden knew inspired her to write songs and poems. Her sweetness came from deep within, not from the candy she enjoyed as a child, her children said laughing.

“Mama wrote poems and songs about the things she knew and loved,” Geraldine said. “She wrote about the gardenias growing just outside her window, about the whispering of the wind and call of the whippoorwills.

“We had a screen door which we never locked. Mama loved seeing outside, the twilight and the bright moonshine. She loved the sweet smell of the flowers planted at the door and the wild honeysuckle along the fence. She was home and she was happy.”

Juanita Golden’s children remember back to Golden’s Grocery where their mom worked and took care of the needs of people.

When neighbors couldn’t pay for what was needed, the lady of the store, gave credit, knowing that they would not be able to pay it back.

Pat Rogers remembers her mother as “a most giving” person.

“When someone was down, Mama was there with a hand to pull them up,” Pat said. “And, cook! There has never been a cook as good as our mama.”

“Her caramel cake,” one of her children said. “With crushed pecans all over it,

“And black walnuts, how did she ever crush them? And, her egg custards,  and syrup cakes and her biscuits that were so light and fluffy that they could fly.”

Pat said their mama could do anything that needed to done.

“She could make a dress by hand; she could kill a hen, chop wood and build a fire in the stove,” Pat said. “There wasn’t a thing Mama couldn’t do.”

Juanita Golden didn’t have much “schooling” so she went to her daughter’s in Phenix City and took the schooling and proudly received her GED.

However, her children said at heart, she was a poet and song writer so she didn’t need a GED. She just wanted have it, if it was needed.

“Mama would wrap up in a blanket and sit out on the porch and sing and think of words to write and things to sing,” her children said.

For whatever reason, her children remembered most her singing, “May I sleep in your barn tonight Mister, Mister; I have no tobacco and no place to lay down.”

Juanita Golden’s heart was filled with songs and poems and love for her family and concern for those in need. And, she provided a place for them to lay down. That’s how her family will remember their mama, not her old hands but her singing heart.