A gentle soul.

If there was ever a kinder, gentler soul than Serena Graham, I have yet to meet her.

Serena lived her life according to her heart and her faith. And it turns out she was right.

For years Serena was a familiar sight all over town as she walked to take care of her business or just to visit along the way. She had no driver's license - never did.

My first recollections of Serena were from the 1950s. Almost every day, she would stop at the Mick or Mack grocery store where I was employed. She was either coming from or going to the Clarence Worrell residence, where she worked as a housekeeper, but was more like a member of the family.

Of all the times Serena stopped in that store, one thing always comes to mind when I think of her in those days. She had this pretty light yellow dress with a white ribbon for a belt. Couple that look with her laughter, and you have the very essence of springtime. The tulips and buttercups couldn't hold a candle to her.

Serena also worked for Minnie Glea Cooper Stewart. Herbie says that she would get to Minnie's house about 10 a.m., clean and do housework for a while, then play cards or games until about 2 p.m., then go home. Herbie suspected that Minnie enjoyed the company more than she needed the work done. Minnie, another of our sweet ladies, also passed away just a few months ago.

I can't go any farther without mentioning the folks at the nursing home and the care that they give. Day-to-day care was great, but when it became apparent that the end was imminent, they seemed to step it up and did everything possible to make it easier for Serena and thoughtfulness was off the charts. It was especially heartwarming and encouraging to watch the younger students do what needs to be done and always mindful that there are grieving loved ones and you could see the compassion as they attended to their duties and to the needs of the patient. For that, the Graham family will forever be grateful.

Serena lost her husband rather early and had the responsibility of raising three boys. Recently, when I was alone with her in her room, Serena said, "Paige, I raised three good boys, didn't I?" I just squeezed her hand and she knew I agreed.

Serena loved to talk about her childhood days on Laurel Branch. Raised hard and poor, but could not have been happier in a castle. She cherishes every memory, as she does every step from home to school and back. Or to the country store where she might spend a penny or two. No regrets. That is the sign of a life well-lived.

Not only did Serena have high standards, but she also lived up to them. Much more difficult.

Serena has passed from the earthly scene. As she believed with all her heart, her body is whole again. All ailments have left her for good. What is left, is a beautiful memory of a beautiful person. And ideals that will be a pattern for others to live their lives by. Herbie, Steve and Floyd, and many friends have an awful void that cannot be filled. What they do have is the beautiful memory of as good a mom as God ever made.

Rest in peace Serena Belle. You have surely earned it.

Email sportspaige30@gmail.com.