What I learned about Mama from her Bibles

Published 7:30 am Sunday, May 8, 2022

“We want you to go through Mama’s Bibles,” an uncle requested several years ago when my husband’s grandmother passed away.

The family faced the sad task of deciding what to do with her precious possessions. Among them were three Bibles…a large print King James with a dusty rose leather binding, a small black one with her name engraved on the front corner, and a third one with “Holy Bible” in giant, gold letters on the cover.

During her 88 years of life, Thelma Boothe not only read her Bible, she also put memories within its pages. A dozen or more pieces of paper in the Holy Bible with giant letters made it almost twice its thickness.

Tenderly, I turned each page to see what she had saved or written. Being known as the family historian granted me the privilege of determining any information that needed to be preserved. What I found told me more about my grandmother by marriage.

Mama Boothe, as we called her, filled her Bibles with newspaper clippings, now yellowed by time. Some were photos of her children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments and celebrations. The newspaper clippings announced weddings, school awards, and job recognitions. Happy events included a family member’s 50th anniversary and another’s record-breaking cucumber.

There were at least two columns by Ann Landers, one on the high cost of alcoholism and another titled, “First to forgive is the first to find peace.” She had also kept an article written by a local minister about “that old time religion.”

Between the pages were bookmarks of all descriptions…a Christmas ribbon, a crocheted cross, and a paper cross that read “Happy Mother’s Day.” Many other clippings told of the deaths of relatives and friends whom she knew and loved during her lifetime. I found her mother’s obituary dated July 1965.

Mama wrote in the margins and back cover of her Bible. “There was a hailstorm the 26th day of March in 1983, biggest one I ever saw,” she jotted inside the cover. She noted the passing of her sister-in-law Pearl, who was 92-years-old.

What touched my heart most were comments about scriptures. On the page beside Psalm 91, she wrote, “Brent and I read this chapter often to Big Mama White (my husband’s paternal grandmother). Numerous verses were underlined, some with a minister’s name in the margin marking a sermon she probably heard.

Even though she didn’t say much about her walk with God, I was holding the foundation of her faith. As I reached the last page of her Bible, I thought about the end of her life. A couple of days before she died she said, “I’m ready to go to heaven.”

Looking back on her life, I was reminded of a verse the Apostle Paul wrote to a young man named Timothy, “…I call to remembrance the genuine faith…which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice,” and I am persuaded it is also in you (2 Timothy 1:5).

The Apostle Paul was telling him to keep the faith.  I pray the same will be true of me.