Jim Beam column:Five mothers are major bonus

Published 6:56 am Saturday, May 13, 2023

Having five great mothers to remember and celebrate with on Mother’s Day is another of God’s many blessings.

Carrie, my mother, got me started on the right foot. I have written many times about her insistence that I get a good education. We couldn’t afford encyclopedias, but she managed to purchase a two-volume set titled, “Lincoln Library of Essential Information.”

I had the good fortune to have a legislative scholarship that paid my tuition at McNeese State University. Good grades got me a T.H. Harris Scholarship that paid all of my other expenses.

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I was also the janitor at University United Methodist Church for three years. And I got free lunches for helping serve at DiCarlo’s restaurant on Ryan Street across from LaGrange High School.

With a B.A. degree from McNeese, an ROTC commission, and two years in the U.S. Army, I was well on my way. Teaching American history, civics, and English for 4½ years and getting an M.A. degree in history from LSU also prepared me for a lifetime of work as a newspaperman.

A special thanks to my mother again today for an emphasis on education that has given me more happiness and fulfillment than I could have ever imagined.

Jo Ann and I were married in 1954 and she became that second mother. The fact that she had a good secretarial job at Sun Oil Co. made it possible for me to not have to work for the first time since I was a teenager while finishing my last year at McNeese.

My late wife tried to keep me on an even keel while raising our two children. As most couples do, we had our ups and downs over 65-plus years, but we made it.

Jo Ann did all the right things with Jamie and Bryan, our daughter and son. They, too, got that good education my mother emphasized and will tell you it has also enriched their lives.

The church was always a high priority with Jo Ann and I tell God during my evening prayers that she was a great disciple. She attended Bible Study Fellowship classes for a number of years. We attended church together every Sunday and that is often where I miss her the most.

Jo Ann was also a volunteer at Memorial Hospital for many years. It was only after she died on May 31, 2020, that I realized how many friends she had made during her 85 years who expressed their condolences.

Jamie, who is the third mother and is now a grandmother, is my walking partner and cookie-maker. She has spent many years in education and I often call on her and Bryan to help me with my technology problems.

Television is Jamie’s major contribution to my enjoyment hours. She knows how to work those TV remotes that can be extremely difficult at times.

Jamie isn’t crazy about the political columns that have been my major newspaper contribution, but our family is pretty much on the same page when it comes to politics. Like most of my readers, Jamie loves columns about families the most.

Edith is Bryan’s wife and she is our fourth mother. Andrew James Beam, my grandson, can tell you Edith has been his champion for the many years he has been a big part of our family.

Art is another of Edith’s major interests, and her brother is an accomplished artist. Edith is also our Lafayette connection, the place her family calls home.

Jessica, my granddaughter and the fifth mother in our family, and her husband, Adam, are doing an outstanding job raising Aurora, 4, and Eleanor, 2, my two great-granddaughters. Aurora is getting quality pre-schooling and Eleanor will join her soon.

American Press readers know a lot about Jessica since she has been a major topic in my columns since she was born.

Cooking is one of Jessica’s major interests and she’s good at it. Like my mother, she doesn’t worry too much about cookbooks and cooking instructions. However, her dishes are always tasty.

Jessica and Aurora showed up around noon Thursday to bring their grandfather enough red beans and rice for two meals.

Our weekly family meals come less often with Jo Ann gone, but we still have quality time on other occasions. Bryan, Edith, and Andrew often share their Saturday evening meals with me. Jamie and Dr. Joe, her husband, and I have lunch together at noon on most Sundays at their home.

A special thanks on Mother’s Day to the five mothers in our family who have enriched all our lives.