3810 Whites Creek Pike, Nashville, TN 37207 (615) 876-1014

Archive date:  May 9, 2009

For Mom…and other Incredible Women in my Life

Mother’s Day should be much more than “a day”

My mother was born Mary Ellen Roberts in 1924. She was a beautiful young woman. Somehow, my dad caught her eye…the rest, as it is said, is history. Mom was the mother of 5, miraculously; she suffered 4 miscarriages prior to the birth of my older brother, Richard. I cannot fathom how difficult it must have been for her, but her maternal instinct was strong.

Three years after Richard, I was born, eighteen months later my brother Mark. There were just the three of us for what seemed like an eternity. After a six-and-a-half years of “just the 3 boys” came the 4th. My brother Lynn was born in 1964. In August of 1966 the final addition to the Bates household came along, my sister Amy. Mom had just passed her 42nd birthday. In 1966, 42 was really outside the norm for childbirth. Within two years after the birth of my sister, Mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Even though the last many years of her life were filled with the agonizing pain from the effects of the crippling disease, Mom never, well, rarely complained. Again, I cannot fathom how difficult it must have been for her. Her disabilities were dealt with by my sister Amy. Amy was my mother’s caregiver for all of their life together. Amy was with my mother essentially all day, every day until my mother’s death in 1989. I don’t know how my sister was able to make and keep such a commitment. It is easy to tell your mother you love her, quite another to live it. Amy did just that.

I have already written much about my paternal grandmother, Bessie Bates. There is much more to say about this remarkable woman. There are three events that say everything about who she was. First, she started a business in 1932 in the height of the depression (fortunately it still survives today). Second, she gave birth to twins, my uncle Wilburn and his twin, Milburn. Milburn died as an infant. The doctor insinuated that the cause of Milburn’s death was due to her not being a “good mother”. Some people would have carried that resentment to their grave, but not Bessie Bates. Thirdly, she proceeded to be the first president and co-founder of the PTO of Tarbox School here in Nashville, and remained active and involved with her children throughout their lives.

My maternal grandmother was the original “Boy Named Sue”, except she was a girl named Richard. Richard Ophelia Poore was so named for her father who died prior to her birth. I have no idea why they didn’t call her Ophelia, but I guess my brother, Richard is glad…since he was named after her. Babaw, as we called her, was married to my grandfather, Walter Roberts. Walter Roberts was a cantankerous old coot, and a natural born pessimist. The glass for him was never even half-empty…there was no glass. Babaw had a naturally sunny disposition, and she needed it to put up with Granddaddy. Despite living the last 10 years or so blinded by glaucoma, you would never know she had any handicap. Her attitude and faith helped her to take life in stride, and I never saw her angry…except once.

There was a market on Winford Avenue, a half-block from their house. She wanted to walk down there and wanted me to walk with her. Of course, the only thing I had to do was to watch where she was walking and keep her out of hazardous situations. As a six year old I guess I got distracted by a bird or whatever, I failed to notice that a delivery truck driver had left his door open on the truck. You know what happened next. I walked her straight into that open door. It didn’t hurt her, but it knocked her dark glasses off. I was humiliated and she was embarrassed and fuming. It’s been 47 years, and I still feel badly about that. She never mentioned that event ever again, but she never let me walk her to the store again, either. I wonder why?

I dedicate this space in tribute to the remarkable women that have touched my life. My Mom, sister and my two grandmothers have profoundly helped me to keep my life headed in the right direction. From my wife of nearly 24 years, Renee, mother of our two children and her mom Miss Lil’ (Lella Warf), to my aunts Frances Tripp and Vivian Bates, my stepmother Martha Bates, my adoptive Chinese-Hawaiian mother, Bea Loo (another story for another day), and all of the incredible ladies I have had the good fortune to work with previously and currently… I thank you all!

I hope this Mother’s Day is a special one for all of our friends at Bates Nursery. As a mother, you deserve the praise daily. If you are fortunate enough to still have your mother, make sure she knows how much she means to you…every day.
Happy Mother’s Day,
David Bates

Don’t know what Mom likes? Get her a Bates Nursery Gift Card, available in any amount. We have many gorgeous gifts for Mom as well as specials for Mother’s Day weekend. Don’t let the threat of rain dampen your show of appreciation for Mom! We have many wonderful things…sure to bring a smile.