By MICHAEL HICKS THOMPSON
Where would we be without praying mothers?
City girl Olga Wright Thompson never made it to the Big Apple. She became a farm bride.
She raised four strapping boys on a small farm, in a tiny farmhouse — think 1,400 square feet on a hill with two acres of open, sloping front yard and a small pond. Behind the house was a forest in the black hollow where I explored most every day on my horse, Missy.
It was an idyllic life. I just didn’t realize it at the time.
Mama grew up a city girl in Jackson, the middle of six brothers, one sister, and an imposing, strict, and city-wide respected father who founded one of the largest and most revered funeral homes in America — Wright & Ferguson Funeral Home.
Even as a young girl, and throughout her life, Mama was known as a “genuine lady.”
Never once did I see her act haughty toward anyone — house maids, farm men or their wives, not even the local town drunk. She had a heart of gold and natural good looks, with a personality and a twinkle in her eye that exacted genuine respect. She had morals that never wavered, which is why I suppose she was respected and adored by everyone she knew or encountered.
In high school, she was a baton twirler, and voted Most Popular Girl. Many days after school, she’d model for Kennington’s — then Jackson’s equivalent of Saks 5th Avenue.
Surprisingly, her strict parents offered to pay her way to New York if she truly wanted to become a serious model.
But then war and love intervened when she met a dashing WWII pilot at a dance in Jackson during his two-week leave. Frazier Robinson Thompson, Jr., also happened to be a farm boy.
Frazier III and Will were born in Monroe, Louisiana, near Selman Army Airfield. Walter, the next oldest, and I were born in Mama’s own bed outside Bentonia, Mississippi, in Yazoo County.
I often went with Mama to the chicken coop at sunrise to gather fresh eggs for breakfast. She had about a dozen laying hens, a rooster, yard chickens (who had another purpose in life), even sheep she sheared every year for the wool.
To this day I can see the chicken coop — an old wooden shed. The early easterly sun magically created thin rays of particle-filled light rising ever more bright yellow as the sun rose through the narrow slats, leaving the sunlight to mix with pixie dust and floating tiny feathers. It was a “Prairie Home Companion” atmosphere.
Maneuvering with purpose through the hen house, she would shoo the hens off their nests, gather up a dozen or so eggs, stack them in a wicker basket, and thirty minutes later have fried eggs, bacon, grits, and cornbread pones on the table for her four boys and man.
One afternoon I watched her chase down two of those yard chickens, the ones with the “other purpose in life.” She wrung their necks, plucked them, washed them, cut them into parts, and dusted them with her cornmeal recipe for cast iron skillet frying. Supper!
She made sure we were in church every Sunday — spit shined and all. She cared how we presented ourselves. More importantly, she prayed for her four boys’ salvation every day for 46 years of her life — from the time the oldest was born, till the day she died at age 67.
God answered her prayers. All of her four boys became God’s adopted born-again children. And I’m convinced all — or most all — of her grandchildren, and now even great-grandchildren, have become God’s children. Without Mama’s fervent daily prayers, I’m convinced heaven would have a lot fewer Thompsons.
The way I write about my mother, you’d think I’m a mama’s boy. I’m anything but. I have the scars to prove it — 23 broken bones, eight alone from one Harley-Davidson massage. Twenty-three fist fights. At least a half dozen car wrecks. College drugs. A night in jail. A fight in the largest Las Vegas casino. And more that I’m not willing to confess here. No wonder she prayed so fervently.
Maybe I’ll write about Daddy next time. Whew. That’d be a story. What a man! He died far too young at 57 from an aneurysm. We all wished we could’ve gotten to know him better. He reminded me of Humphrey Bogart.
Now all my brothers are at home in heaven. And that leaves only me. Oh, well, I’ll see them all soon enough — Mama, Daddy, Frazier III, Will and Walter.
Michael Hicks Thompson is a husband of 49 years, father to three sons, grandfather, novelist, writing instructor, and former owner of a nationally recognized creative ad agency. His upcoming plausible science fiction novel, “Clouds Above,” will be released June 1, and Amazon encourages pre-orders.