Jim Beam column: Mothers enrich our lives

Published 6:45 am Sunday, May 8, 2022

My first Mother’s Day column in 1982 was written after an aunt of mine died and an uncle was the only survivor of my mother’s 11 siblings. I was out of town at the time.

In a letter to the aunt’s family to explain my absence, I said something about my mother’s family having had a tremendous impact on my life. I kept asking myself why I felt as I did about that family and the same phrase kept rolling over and over in my mind: “We are what we come from.”

Yes, we are and when the living examples of our heritage slip away from our day-to-day living, we can’t help but feel a certain emptiness and the closing of an era in our lives. However, we can fill that emptiness by reflecting on the mighty fine people who have had a part in helping to mold our character and who have helped bring meaning to our very existence.

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I said then, and it’s still true — Mother’s Day is as good a time as any for all of us to remember those wonderful people who influenced our lives.

In a 1997 column, 17 years after my mother, Carrie Welch Beam, died, I said what I wouldn’t give to be able to put my arm once again around her and let her know what a tremendous influence she has been in my life.

My mother believed two things would sustain us when everything else failed — faith in God and a good education. She saw to it that we got a heavy dose of both. I’ll never forget how proud she was of the Lincoln Library she purchased for our benefit. It was just a two-volume reference work, but it was as close to an encyclopedia as we could afford.

Mother’s Day 1988 was a major event in our lives. Our daughter, Jamie, gave my late wife, Jo Ann, and I a colorfully wrapped grandparents’ book.

“What does this mean?” Jo Ann asked.

When she learned it meant just what it was supposed to mean, she couldn’t control her emotions. And her happiness made it a day we will long remember.

Jessica, our granddaughter was born Aug. 7 that year, and what a blessing she has been. She has been the subject of a number of these columns and our readers know her well.

In April of 1997, I announced that our family had a new member who would fill the eighth chair at our dining room table. He is our grandson, Andrew James Beam, who was adopted by Bryan and Edith, our son and daughter-in-law.

I said at the time that God had blessed our family many times, and he had done it again with Andrew.

The Beam family celebrated Mother’s Day in 2019 with a new mother in our family. Jessica had Aurora, our first great-granddaughter. Jo Ann and I knew Jessica longed for the day when she could become the great mother she is today.

We celebrated our 65th wedding anniversary on Aug. 20 and felt fortunate to still be around to enjoy our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. Jo Ann and I had some struggles and tough times over the years, but somehow we survived them all.

Jo Ann died on May 31, 2020, and we think of her often. She loved the church and was one of God’s great disciples. I have been amazed at how many friends she made during her lifetime.

God sent a special blessing our way on my 87th birthday on Oct. 7. Eleanor Marie Walker, our second great-granddaughter, was born that day and it will make the annual celebration bigger and brighter.

Having watched Jamie, Edith and Jessica perform so well as mothers has given me a better idea of that role Jo Ann handled so well. My daughter and son are the beneficiaries of her love and care, and all of us have fond memories to share not only on Mother’s Day, but every day.

Mothers are often the moral compass in families and thank God for that. What a miserable mess some of us would be in if we hadn’t had their love and guidance, especially in our formative years. Dads play a key role, as well, and we’ll say more about them on June 19.

As I said in 1997, if you’re lucky enough to see your mother today give her a great big hug. Tell her how much you love her and let her know how important she has been in your life.

Happy Mother’s Day!