Arrilla Emma Jean Barden passed away on September 29, 2020 of complications from pneumonia. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
Mom was always funny about her name, or names, as she would sometimes say. She preferred the simple Jean Barden to the Arrilla and Emma part. And, you would never call her Emma Jean. Emma Jean is a fine Southern name that many people proudly use, but not our mother. She was Jean Barden.
We're telling this story about her name because it was funny to her sons and it was something that we would pick at her about. She didn't let too many things get to her, so, being boys, we had to have something that would 'get her goat.' We called her Mom, but from time to time we had to remind her that we knew her 'real' name was not only Emma Jean, but Arrilla Emma Jean. She would turn red at first, then good-naturedly tickle us and tell us that she was just Mom. I hope that she knew how much we loved her.
Mom's life started in 1934, in the middle of the Great Depression. She had a big brother, Sanford, who died in 1935. In 1940, her father, Emmett Faucett, died. From that point on, it was only her mother, Agnes, and her. It was tough for them, as it was for many people during that time. Agnes worked multiple jobs, and during one period, they had to rent their house on Medlin Street in Smyrna and move into a much smaller unit. Agnes was eventually able to move back in and pay off the house. Our grandmother had grit, and, from those experiences, so did our mom.
Mom was a cheerleader at Smyrna High School and we remember our grandmother, Agnes, who we called MaMa, tell us about our mother doing cartwheels on the front lawn. Our mother doing cartwheels? To young boys, that was almost as funny as when we picked at her about her name. Mothers didn't do cartwheels, did they? Mom, when we laughed about you doing cartwheels and you would laugh with us, did you know how much we loved you?
In 1953, Mom married some guy who had just returned home from Germany after serving in the Army. This same guy, years earlier, had moved across the street from her. His name was Don Barden and they were married for 58 years, until his death in 2011.
During that long marriage, she had three sons ? Steve in 1957, Chuck in 1958, and Sandy in 1966. Steve and Chuck were a year and 7 months apart in age while Sandy was 9 years younger than the oldest. We won't mention how we used to kid her about the long time difference between us older boys and Sandy. Mom, did you know that each time we would pick at you it was our odd way of saying how much we loved you?
When Steve and Chuck were in grade school, Mom had the full-time, 24-hour shift of raising the boys. After Sandy came along, she was also a full-time mom but, once Sandy started in elementary school, she decided to work at the schools. She started in 1972 as a teacher assistant at Brown Elementary School then became that school's secretary/bookkeeper in 1973. She transferred to Griffin Middle School to become the school's secretary in 1978 and then went to Varner Middle School in 1990 when it opened. She eventually retired from the Cobb County School District in 1996. She was also, for years, the librarian at Smyrna First Baptist Church.
Mom had two grandchildren, Sean and Christopher and she was fortunate enough to have witnessed two of her great-grandchildren ? Statten, born in October, 2016, and most recently, Haven, born this February, 2020.
Mom, you've had many names ? Arrilla Emma Jean, Emma Jean, Jean, Mom and what the grandsons called you, MaMa. Now, you have a new name of Angel and we know that you're doing cartwheels again in heaven. We hope you know how much we loved you.
Credit: Clayton County Police Department