Worship: Here’s to Paula Davis, Carol Toler and all our ‘neighborhood moms’

The supermoms among us

We all need moms, and we all need all the moms we can get.

I have lived in two of our most close-knit and vibrant communities across the past 28 years, both of which this column reaches monthly: Lake Highlands and Lakewood. They are good “hoods” for many reasons, but one we seldom talk about is on my mind right now:

Each of them has neighborhood moms who stand out by turning out time and again.

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In my generation, I have witnessed friends, like Paula Davis and Carol Toler in Lake Highlands, and Candy Post and Vickie Thompson in Lakewood, whose hearts didn’t close when they left their own houses; they opened wider. They were our neighborhood moms, women always ready to do whatever the community needed. Wherever there was need for a volunteer or someone to run to as a trusted adult, they were there. The front door of their home was always open, as was their heart. I trusted my kids with any of them any time.

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There are others, I know, but I know these best. And they have been the best.

Gratefully, we can still use the present tense to talk about Lake Highlands Moms like Paula and Carol. Sadly, the past tense is now proper when speaking of the late Lakewood Moms, Candy and Vickie.

Candy died a few years ago, and yet she continues to hallow our hearts and hearths. Vickie left us on the Fourth of July this year. She was at her usual post at the Lakewood parade, selling T-shirts at a booth at Tokalon Park. That afternoon, she succumbed to a heart attack that took her life.

I can only imagine that her heart had stretched so wide for so long, it couldn’t contain her mortal frame any longer.

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The memorial service for Vickie was a tribute to a bigger-than-life life. Whether playing the organ or singing in the choir at her church, helping with the Wilkinson Center or Woodrow Wilson events, supporting our city councilmen, or simply being a welcoming soul, Vickie made everyone and everything better by her presence.

The same is true of the others. What’s the key to understanding them? Big personalities, partly. There is something magnetic about them. Service, partly. No task is too great or small. They know what needs to be done and how to do it. Yes is the most common word in their vocabulary, and it’s therefore impossible to say no to them. Love, mostly. Love for friends and kids and church and organizations. Love for their neighborhoods. What would our communities be without them? What our communities are is because of their being with us.

Candy and Vickie were my immediate neighbors — one across the creek, the other next door. Paula and Carol live down the road. But geography isn’t the point of their neighbor mom-ness. It’s just who they are. And whether they are here in the flesh or here in spirit, they are always here and forever near.

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