Mom: A Tribute to Ann Brooks
by Judy Brooks

My mother was born on a farm during the Great Depression, the eldest of twelve children. She spent her early morning hours milking the family’s cows before walking three miles to school. She and her siblings helped with the housework and cooking for their family of fourteen. They plowed their fields with the help of a team of mules and planted, weeded, hoed, and harvested a large vegetable garden and occasional cash crops. On Sundays they walked to church, a four-mile round trip.

ann brooks
Mom at 3 years of age.

Despite a life most of us would consider hard, my mother and her family recall those days fondly, and always speak of the fun they had during those difficult years. Humor was a strong part of the loving and close relationship they still enjoy to this day. They are an entertaining and lively group, and I often refer to my mother's family as “The Waltons” when describing them to friends, both as a tribute to their strong family ties, and for the great respect and affection I have for them.

Prom dress
Mom in her prom dress.

Mom used this same work ethic and sense of humor when raising her own children. She entertained us with tales of how her parents gave her a dime every Saturday for the movies, and how during World War II she rode the “Victory Bus” and watched her mother sew blackout curtains. Mom had a knack for making mundane chores fun, and even indulged me when, for my fifth birthday, I requested not only a coconut cake, but a green coconut cake. Without batting an eye, she tinted the boiled frosting a lovely pastel green, and shook the coconut in a jar with green food coloring so it would match.

She approached everything and everyone with an open heart, an open mind, and a sense of joy. She still has a desire to live life to its fullest, due in part to her capacity for finding great pleasure in even the smallest gifts of nature, and to express her gratitude for them. It took me quite a few years to comprehend how abysmally I had failed to appreciate her “stop and smell the roses” philosophy when I was younger.

I vividly recall a frigid morning in early March of 1968, all of us caught up in our routine of the mad weekday-morning rush to get to work and school on time. We grabbed books, bags, and pulled on our coats as we ran frantically out the door and down the walk with our usual two-minutes-to-spare brand of punctuality. Suddenly, my mother stopped all of us in mid-sprint so quickly I almost rear-ended one of my sisters.

We goggled at her in surprise as she pointed at the ground, an expression of wonder and joy on her face. “Look, it’s the first crocus!” she exclaimed, and we humored her for a moment by glancing down at the lone yellow bloom before resuming our dash to the car. Poor Mom, she cast those wonderful pearls before her young swine in vain. We were too busy shoving and kicking each other out of the way so we could slam the car doors and get on the road, to give a rat's hindquarters about a crocus, of all things!

I need to point out that during this time, I had a typical 12-year-old’s attitude concerning my parents. Convinced they weren't very bright, I usually found them to be a nuisance and a frequent embarrassment, but grudgingly tolerating them except when they were providing funds and/or transportation. It was with barely suppressed exasperation that I reacted to her crocus announcement by rolling my eyes and quietly sighing to myself. Why I had been cursed with a mother who was clearly a kook?

In the many years since the notorious crocus incident, I have gleaned that often the most valuable lessons our mothers bequeath are not so much taught as experienced, and despite a rocky beginning, I absorbed via a sort of osmosis some of my mother's joie de vivre. Nowadays I will abruptly stop in the midst of a harried day to savor a warm, magnolia-scented June breeze on my face. I think nothing of pausing mid-stride in the middle of my yard to gaze down in awe at the sight of a perfect fairy circle of ecru mushrooms, or even spend a few precious minutes to watch the wind reshape a group of puffy white clouds into prehistoric creatures. Thanks to my mother, I have learned that these minutes are time truly well spent.

I don’t know if my mother realized that her sustained wonder and joy in everyday miracles like the little crocus bloom would have such a profound effect on her children, but her enthusiasm in sharing such experiences has taught me to cherish them, and her, all the more. Words are inadequate as thanks for this amazing legacy, but I’m glad she is here to read this. I can only promise that I’ll continue to honor my most valued inheritance, and think of her always with joy, love, and boundless gratitude.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  

After graduating with the CHS class of 1973, Judy Brooks attended Berry College for a short while before beginning a career that encompassed a number of diverse positions, from bartender and directory assistance operator to assistant grant-writer and office manager. She lived in Rome, Atlanta, and Paducah, KY before returning to Summerville in September of 2010, and is quite content to be back among family and friends.


In January of 2013, she established Pyewacket Publishing, and has just released Under the Electric Sun, a Kindle edition juvenile/YA science fiction title by local author and former Summerville News sports writer Matthew Curry. She would be thrilled to hear from friends, classmates, and other interested members of the community, and can be reached at or

Copyright 2013 Greg W. McCollum.  All rights reserved.