Eulogy for Marie Inez Sanders Bramblett Patterson

© Jay Harden

I am thankful that Marie was in my life.

We met in the fall of 1958. I was a skinny, tall, and very shy boy very interested in her daughter Carolyn, and understandably anxious about meeting the mother of such a beauty. Mother and daughter were alike in that way, I was relieved to discover. They also shared an ability to charm with a soothing accent and a secret sense of humor in the style of classic Southern women.

I also seem to recall a very small yapping dog at the door, a Toy Manchester named Tinker. I dethroned Tinker – as well as all other rivals – and the dog never forgave me.

I knew I was being watched because Marie and my mother already knew each other. Mom had been Carolyn’s math teacher at Athens High. From that day to this, the two mothers remained friends, though Marie continued to always call my mother Mrs. Harden, as did her daughter (even as my wife).

Of course, I didn’t see Marie as much as I saw her daughter as we lived in California, then New England, and the Midwest. Still Marie remained a presence in my life and every trip home we visited the little house on Oakland Avenue where my happiness began.

When Archie came courting a few years after their spouses died, the garden on Oakland bloomed as never before. It continues to bloom as a memory to them both and the grace of second chances. Marie and Archie became routine visitors to my mother’s kitchen, connoisseurs of her matchless, mouth-watering biscuits, scratch-made by eye with White Lily flour.

I want to remind the world that without Marie, there would have been no Carolyn. And without Carolyn there would have been no Camilla, no Benjamin, no continuing generation of River, Maia, and Journey. I cannot imagine an impoverished world unblessed by their presence.

Part of Marie and me lives on in the presence of her descendants. They carry on a magnificence handed down from her and countless ancestors. The cycle of life and death continues to recombine us uniquely in marvelous ways. Each of us is proof that the Supreme Source of creation makes magic with humanity over and over again.

I am thankful Marie was in my life.

12 May 2006

Athens, Georgia