The Dart: Daughter returns to Natchez to take care of mother

Published 11:57 pm Sunday, June 18, 2017

By David Hamilton

NATCHEZ — Natchez resident Betty Prater said her mother had always been there during Prater’s stint in the military. Now, Prater has returned home to be there for her mother.

The Dart landed Thursday at Duncan Park, where the pair was enjoying a relaxing lunch along with Prater’s 6-year-old nephew, Bryton Prater.

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Leaving her work in order to return to Natchez, Prater said she and her mother are living “the leisure life.”

“It’s nice to not have to get up with a purpose every morning,” Prater said.

About two years ago, Prater moved back to Natchez from New Orleans to help her mother, Exelena Arbuthnot, who now requires regular doctors visits. Prater frequently accompanies Arbuthnot to those appointments.

Prater attributes many of her positive character traits to U.S. Air Force, which she joined in 1978 as an administrative specialist. Joining the military was somewhat spontaneous for Prater, as she recalled the day a recruiter visited her North Natchez High School seeking prospects.

“I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll try it,’” Prater said.

One lesson the military taught her was how to see people for who they are and accept them, she said.

“It taught me to have respect — not just for yourself, but for others.” Prater said.

Prater never had to go abroad for her service, but she did move throughout the United States. Yet wherever she went, whether it was Cocoa Beach, Fla., or Omaha, Neb., Arbuthnot was there for her.

“Everywhere I went, she was always able to come visit me — my mom was,” Prater said.

Now, the mother and daughter enjoy every moment spent together. The two like to sightsee all over Natchez, going wherever the day takes them. Thursday happened to bring the pair to Duncan Park.

But even at her advanced age, Arbuthnot still partakes in one of her favorite activities.

“Every now and then she’ll do some dancing,” Prater said. “It’s mostly to gospel music — gospel with a beat.”

Prater also said Arbuthnot, who raised nine kids of her own, loves to play with children, which is why they brought Bryton along to Duncan Park.

Whatever the pair does, they appreciate being able to spend time with each other now that Prater is back home.