Martha Jo "Mema" Boothe-Fonville
(1923 - 2009)

On July 6, 2009 my grandmother, "Mema", passed away. She was laid to rest next to my grandfather at the Oaklawn Cemetery in Mabank, TX. Below is a one-page essay I read at her gravesite service.


I wanted to say a few words about my grandmother, affectionately known to some as “Mema”. Many pleasant moments from my childhood were spent at Mema and Papa’s lake house, located on the shore of Cedar Creek Lake just a few miles from where we have gathered today.

I remember that bumpy asphalt street known as Pleasure Land Road that led down to the lake house Papa built from the ground up with his hands some forty years ago. When my family’s Dodge van bounced & bucked from hitting the potholes in that street, our family dog and I both became excited. Buffy was anxious to play with her canine friend, Suzie. And I was anxious to get out of Dallas and spend time with my family on the shores of a freshwater lake - with all the sights and smells and experiences that most city kids could only dream about.

It was in the lush green grass surrounding that lake house that Mema helped me find Easter Eggs when I was 5 or 6 years old. My sister was always better at spotting those hidden plastic prizes, so out of sympathy for me Mema would give me plenty of hints about where to look next. It was much appreciated.

I can still envision Mema wearing her shade hat, tending to that magnificent garden that she and Papa maintained between their back porch and the water’s edge. Corn stalks towered above my head, and vine ripened tomatoes and swollen cucumbers grew in great abundance. I was always fascinated by all those glass jars filled with bread & butter pickles and beets and other colorful vegetables. I remember the popping sounds from string beans being snapped by my sister, my mother and my grandmother as they worked in the shade of the covered back porch. I can almost hear Mema playing “The Tennessee Waltz” on her harmonica near a supper table covered with fresh ears of corn and Brack’s barbecue and corn bread and fried fish.

Papa and I would often catch a mess of crappie when they made their annual spring run under the dock that he and my father built when I was just a toddler. Mema took our stringer of fresh fish and transformed it into a heavenly meal – she was hands down the best crappie fryer I have ever known.

Mema was gentle and caring and kind, but when the chips were down she was also strong as an ox - still kind, of course, but steady as a rock. I remember seeing that strength when Papa died at far too young an age some twenty eight years ago. She showed a lot of grit during those dark days.

I miss Mema, and I miss the fond moments that she helped create for us. But both live on in our memories and in the special moments we create for others.

Brad Stone
July 9, 2009

    For a copy of this essay in Word format, click here.

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