Publisher: Nellie Ann Whitmore — a life well lived

By Brian Whitmore/Publisher
 
Nellie Ann Faulkner Whitmore, 83, passed away while she was sleeping, discovered by the morning shift at NHC Laurens on Sept. 21. For eight years she struggled with dementia and debilitating arthritis that led to immobility.
 
She was and is my Mama.
 
They say that most people get their name in the paper twice, when they are born and when they die. But Mama got her name in the paper a few more times, because her son was a journalist.
 
She was born on Aug. 28, 1937. John and Margie Faulkner of Wattsville were her parents. They lived in a small wooden house under a now large oak tree on Fleming Mill Road.
 
I now live near that spot.
 
Mama graduated from Ford High School and beauty school. She and her Mama worked at Watts Mill.
 
That was a simpler time. It was mill life.
 
She met Harvey Freeman Whitmore, fresh out of the Navy, at a Watts Mill diner.
 
He married my Mama on July 4, 1957. They enjoyed more than 50 years together.
 
They moved to Enoree. A son, Rocky, was born.
 
I didn’t come along until 15 years later.
 
Mama was a homemaker and ran a beauty shop out of our house on Long Branch Road.
 
As a kid, I remember playing with friends, while she cut hair. Those glass-bottled Cokes and Lance crackers were the best.
 
Mama didn’t have an easy life. She lost her father years before I was born and her mother when I was just 5 years old.
 
She took that loss very hard. She’d say God gave me to her to help her through that time.
 
An only child, with no siblings, my mother felt she was alone. She had her family, she had my father’s family, but the Faulkners were gone - just a few cousins left.
 
She always carried the sadness of losing her mother, but pressed on for her family.
 
We loved camping - the recreational vehicle kind. We went to the beach every year and to the mountains, and a few times farther off.
 
She liked to people watch through the camper windows.
 
My brother and I will treasure those memories.
 
Every year we went to Carowinds. My Daddy worked at Kohler and they had a company picnic. Daddy had a bad back, but would ride rides with me. Mama didn’t ride, but she was always there waiting and watching - just being near her family.
 
Mama liked music. She cried when Elvis died. She was a big Willie Nelson fan — before he was known more for weed than music.
 
She liked to read the Bible and recipe books. She loved to order from QVC and Daddy threatened to shoot a UPS driver if he brought any more packages.
 
After 50, arthritis really got a hold of her. She got slower and slower. A ramp was added to the camper. By her death, arthritis had deformed her hands and feet.
Rocky gave her two beautiful twins as grandchildren. She and Daddy went to their basketball games. They loved the girls.
 
Christmas-time was special. Mama lavished gifts on everyone. She remains the most giving woman I’ve every known.
During my college years, I remember taking Mama and Daddy to town to shop.
 
Mama loved to grocery shop. She’d visit multiple stores, read the sales papers for the best price and couponed - trying to double or triple the savings. Daddy was tight so he much approved.
 
Boy did Daddy love her. She was his queen and he took care of her until his death, July 28, 2008 - ending a 7-month battle with stroke.
 
That loss was too much for Mama to take. She was heartbroken.
 
I helped her live on her own for five years. But she never was the same.
 
In 2012, Mama went into the hospital with some diabetic problems. She never came home. A broken leg that just snapped one day complicated things.
 
Days after my daughter and her granddaughter was born, she went home for a test to see if she could live alone with assistance. She didn’t pass that test.
 
My daughter was held by her grandmother, but never has seen her walk and never has known her in a state other than dementia.
 
Eight years later, God has healed her mind and body. She walks and runs streets of gold. She is reunited with her husband, her mother, her father and most importantly with our Savior Jesus Christ.
 
I might have taken her sooner, she had no quality of life, but I trust God. He did what was best for all involved. He knows best.
 
She put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces at NHC Laurens, while being bedridden with little movement and dementia. God did not waste those years. They had purpose.
 
I will continue to honor my father and mother in everything I do. God used them to help mold me.
 
I love you Mama and Daddy. I will see you again in Glory.
 
Brian Whitmore is publisher of The Clinton Chronicle.

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