I’ve been procrastinating about writing this for a week or more now, God has put this on my heart but I’d kept saying that I’d do it tomorrow and then I’d do it tomorrow. So yeah, yesterday God gave me a ‘gentle reminder’ that I should do it TODAY. Now if you know anything about God and his ‘gentle reminders’ it means that you’ll not likely get another chance and your next thoughts would be “why didn’t I do that when I was thinking about it?” Anyhow this is a tribute to a dear friend of mine and I’m sure to many of you reading this. Ms Ann Smith-Berrier ( known to many as ‘Mama Ann’ ). This dear woman has been a friend of mine for many years as a matter of fact I knew her before I actually knew that I knew her. I know that this may be a weird statement to be declaring but it’s the truth, you see when I was a boy the foster parents ( Harold and Mrs. Bessie Hairston ) that I was blessed to move with lived in Tyro and I went to Tyro school for a little while. ‘Aunt Bessie’ was a custodian at the school and after we picked her up from work in the afternoons we would oftentimes stop at the Holiday Store across the road from the school, well unbeknownst to me Ann’s family owned this store, and even though us boys weren’t often allowed to go in the store, there were a few times that we were permitted to and I’m sure that there were occasions when a young Ann was probably there herself. I know that you’re most likely saying get to the point, what’s this about yeah yeah we know ‘Mama Ann’ so what? Well “so what?” is because I believe that this wonderful person should have ‘her flowers’ while she can smell them receive her prides while she can hear them and have her tribute written while she can read it. Last week when I saw the post from her daughter that she had been hospitalized, and I was thinking the worst that’s when I realized that this wonderful person that has been my friend for so many years wasn’t going to be here forever. That’s when God put it on my heart to be the one to let her know just how much her friendship has meant to myself and I’m sure that I can speak, ( write ) for so many others.
I had the pleasure of meeting ‘Mama Ann’ when I was a young man and she came to work at Winn Dixie, from day one she became a ‘Mama’ figure to many of us young people working there ( and even a few that wasn’t as young ). I was newly married and had a baby boy whom she immediately fell in love with and she would often buy gifts or make priceless crafts for. Not only did she do this for mine but for anyone that would have a baby while she was working there. And not only did she spoil our kids she would often give out ‘motherly’ advice to the many of us young people ( and also to some that wasn’t so young ). We all also got to know her husband Gary and her daughter Angela whom we got to watch grow from a beautiful little shy girl into a beautiful young woman. After I left my job with Winn Dixie I had the pleasure of often seeing ‘mama Ann’ Gary and young Angie when they visited my new job. And as fellow Tar Heel fans we would have a brief discussion ’bout em Tar Heels. And she would of course ask about my wife and family as I now had 2 sons. And I would inquire about Gary and Angie.
Well as life would have it after her job with Winn Dixie and a short carrier with a rival grocery chain we lost touch for a while, during this time life happened, her husband had gotten ill and had gone home to heaven, her daughter had gotten married and had a daughter (s) of her own, she had sold her home. And my wife and I had our 3rd son. But we still have the occasion to see each other at my job, or do to her last job she sometimes would call me to inquire about an employee and we would take this minute or three (or four or five) to catch up. But fast forward to a couple of years and Face Book we’re once again staying in touch, she’s been my biggest ally in life. She was one of my biggest supporters during my fight during my ‘big C’ scare and she’s kept up with my sons and a big supporter of the now Pastor Dallas and even supporting them during the lost of their 1st born ( rih ‘our baby Ella’ ). ‘Mama Ann’ has been there for a big portion of my adult life I could go on and on about the many things that she’s been there for me and I want to personally thank her while she can hear it ( read ). And I know that she’s been there for so many more people, If you’re one of those people I’d like for you to flood her inbox, give her a call, or even pay her a visit if you can just to say thank you for being a true friend and the Godly woman of faith that she is we all love you ‘Mama Ann’. You’re as close to a Saint that we’ll probably ever meet until we get to heaven.