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Berdine's Corner

Married to an Angel and Didn’t Know It

by Herbert Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

I'm not trying to make my late wife, Berdine Dillard Dennard, larger in death than she was in life, but as time passes, I realize just what a special person I was married to. Although she wasn't perfect, she was the closest to it that I knew. Berdine cared for others and me in so many little ways that meant a whole lot because she was always trying to meet our needs.

This is something she did until the day she died. When Berdine was sick with lung cancer in the Macon Coliseum Hospital, she told me that she wanted to see Reverend Lonzy Edwards, attorney and pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Macon. I didn't know what she wanted with him; I thought that she wanted to see him for legal matters or to ask him to pray for her as many other ministers had. When I called Rev. Edwards, he went to see her immediately.

Later, Rev. Edwards told me why my wife had wanted to see him. Berdine told him that she was concerned about my soul and that she wasn't sure that I was born again. She wanted him to talk to me about my salvation. Rev. Edwards said that she was in the hospital fighting for her life, and all that she could think about was whether I would make it to Heaven.

Before she became sick, Berdine took care of all of our finances. I gave her my entire railroad check every two weeks and she saved some money for us over the years. I knew she was doing this, but I never asked her how much we had. I totally trusted her. She could have used the money to shop or squander it in other ways. I would have never known. However, when she passed, I was astonished to find that she had saved $32,000!

In addition, she was a life-long member of Swift Creek Baptist Church in Macon; she never missed a Sunday unless she was sick. When I went, I would put $10 in the plate at offering, but I found out later that she had been tithing for me all those years from my checks.

Not only did she try to meet my needs, but Berdine also met my desires; sometimes I didn't even know these were things I would want. She would always make my birthday special by buying me a suit or something nice to wear and taking me to dinner. However, she really outdid herself for my 60th birthday. With the help of my children, she threw me a surprise birthday party. I had never had a surprise birthday party, and boy, was I surprised! It was a catered event with a program where she had invited the closest people to me. I later found out that she had been planning this event for a couple of years. It made me very happy and was one of the best birthdays I ever had. But Berdine was even happier about it than I was; she was excited to be able to do that for me.

Because I worked a lot at the railroad, served on the Macon Water Authority, and many other activities in the community, I didn't always have an opportunity to attend our children’s school functions. I didn’t worry about it because my wife was a good mother. Berdine went to every PTA meeting (she was president of the PTA) and volunteered regularly at the kids' schools. She was always there for all three of our children.

One evening after Berdine had passed, I went into a "Mom and Pop" restaurant to eat. The woman who was cooking came out into the dining area, reached into her pocket and said, "I'm paying for this meal because your wife was such a nice person." This woman went on to tell me about the time that her husband was carpeting the stairs in our house. She and her children were waiting out in the car while he worked and when it got cold, she went in to get the car keys, so she could crank the car and turn on the heat. My wife, upon realizing that they were out there, made this woman and her children come in and sit on the couch. She changed the television channel from the Lifetime movie she had been watching to the Cartoon Network for the kids and then went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, Berdine invited the entire family into our formal dining room and served them dinner. Though the lady protested, my wife insisted that they eat. "We've been to a lot of houses while my husband worked, but I've never been treated that way before in my life," the woman said. This isn’t the only story like this; there are many others. Several times since Berdine has been gone, people have approached me to tell me of nice things she had done for them.

Berdine and I were married for 42 years, and I just want to say this to the men reading this article: There are a lot of men out there with angels like my Berdine. These women not only take care of their family's needs, but also do the little things that mean so much. If you are lucky enough to be married to one of these "angels", I encourage you to show her your love and appreciation while you still can. I didn’t do it enough.

Berdine Dillard Dennard 
Aug. 1944 - Oct. 2008

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berdine dancing
Berdine Dillard Denanrd surprising her husband Herbert Dennard with a 60th birthday party