The Dart: Woman makes sure mother’s legacy lives on

Published 12:01 am Monday, April 16, 2018


NATCHEZ — Something just felt right for Doris McNealy-Gordon when she decided to go visit her mother on Sunday.

So, her, her father William McNealy and her sons got in their white Suburban and drove. They drove to the Natchez National Cemetery and headed straight to back where her mother was laid to rest.

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“It was an unexpected trip today,” McNealy-Gordon said. “If we feel it, we just come. I like to come out here.”

When The Dart land on Cemetery Road, McNealy-Gordon was just getting out of her car to to visit her mother, Esther McNealy’s tombstone.

Esther, who was better known as Sweet, died of an unexpected heart attack almost four years ago. But her legacy still lives.

McNealy-Gordon said having her mother be known as Sweet was the perfect description of what type of person she was.

“She would take strangers who came by the house and feed them,” McNealy-Gordon said. “So, we just trying to do her legacy right.

“Her passion was cooking and sharing. I would say, ‘Mama, why you just bringing somebody in here?’ She would respond with, ‘They won’t bother you. I’m cooking, they say they are hungry, so I’m going to feed them because that’s what the Bible says.’” Due to her mother being so open, McNealy-Gordon’s childhood neighbors would flock to her house because they all knew her mom was going to have food.

“Anybody you ask, they’ll say (Sweet) fitted her,” McNealy-Gordon said.

Since it has been a few years since her mother died, visiting the cemetery has become easier for McNealy-Gordon, unless it is around her mom’s birthday, the anniversary of her death or any other dates that were special between the two of them.

Almost a month ago, it would have been Esther’s 81st birthday. So, when McNealy-Gordon visited her tombstone on Sunday, her emotion level was elevated.

“On a scale from 1-10, I’m at a seven,” McNealy-Gordon said. “But when I’m by myself, them tears come down.”

McNealy-Gordon regular visits her mom by herself during her work breaks. She just kneels down right in front of the tombstone, cleans it off a bit and talks about what’s going on in life — how her job is going, how her sons are doing and so on.

“I don’t even have the words to describe her,” McNealy-Gordon said. “She was awesome. We did a celebration of life during her birthday at church. Had the little bags with her name and picture on them, and passed them out to everyone. Then we had ice cream and cake.”

McNealy-Gordon is honoring her mother’s legacy by helping take care of her father, who was diagnosed with colon cancer a year ago.

“He’s doing fine now,” McNealy-Gordon said. “I just know she would want me to take care of him.”

When William McNealy got out of the Suburban, he gingerly walked over with cane in hand to his wife’s tombstone. He just stood in front of it for several minutes looking at it. McNealy brushed it with his hands and smiled.

Once McNealy was done reflecting on his wife’s life and legacy, he walked back to the car wiping away tears that flowed down his cheeks with his handkerchief.

A few minutes after her dad returned to car, McNealy-Gordon headed over and knelt.

She was ready to visit with mom.