North Georgia Elder Law September 2019

Kevin’s Peace of Mind (770) 503-1022

September 2019

The Last of the Steel Magnolias My Maw Maw’s Important Rules to Living

Every few months, a package arrives for me at the office. Every time the delivery person drops it off, it’s the same size and rectangular shape, and, without even opening the box, I know what will be inside and who sent it to me. Ever since I started my own law firm, my grandmother, Bertha Tharpe (known to me as “Maw Maw”) would send me a law book in the mail. The book might be related to my practice area of elder law and estate planning, or it might be on another important legal subject like civil procedure. Regardless of the subject matter, I’ve come to expect this great gift a couple times a year because, if history has taught me anything, once Maw Maw decided to do something, she’d find a way to deliver, even when she couldn’t be there to do it herself. Maw Maw was born and raised in the Atlanta area. She was married to the same man, my grandfather, Boyce Tharpe, for nearly 50 years. While neither of them ended up being lawyers, they were both fascinated by law. Maw Maw worked as the bookkeeper and executive secretary for a local law publishing company, Harrison and Co., and my grandfather worked as a clerk administrator for the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Their affiliation and passion for law was very influential when I was pondering my own career path years later.

A few years after passing the bar exam (Maw Maw paid for the review course), I started my own firm. I remember Maw Maw smiling big as she entered my office for the first time. She saw that I had supplied a coffee area so clients could treat themselves to a “cup o’ joe” before meetings, but, when she saw the stack of paper cups next to the coffee maker, she wasn’t satisfied. Maw Maw firmly believed that coffee should only be served out of mugs, so she went down to Rich’s Department Store (where she did all her shopping) and bought me some nice china to keep in the office. Her insistence on coffee decorum was just one of the many basic but important rules Maw Maw lived by, and she passed them along to me. For example, she taught us that we always had to make our beds no matter what because you never know when company might come by. Even now, I have such a habit of making my bed that even when I stay at hotels, I make sure the bed is in order before I check out. MawMaw also firmly believed that sweet tea was the only type of iced tea worthy of being served and that Coca-Cola was the only soft drink anybody who’s anybody should drink. If you were going to drink Coca-Cola (and if you were at Maw Maw’s house, you did) you would drink it out of an 8-ounce bottle, not an aluminum can. Lastly, she believed every bad day could be turned around with a little hope and a warm chocolate chip cookie. As a kid, if I got in trouble withmy parents, skinnedmy knee ridingmy bike, or was upset about a bad grade in school, she’d tell me,“Honey, come on over. I have something for you.”When I arrived, there would always be a bottle of Coke and a couple of cookies sitting on the table, just waiting to cheer me up. While I’ll always remember Maw Maw’s simple rules to life, her best quality was her strength. In fact, I like to refer to her as “The Last of the Steel Magnolias” because she never took any of life’s

hardships sitting down. When her husband died when I was only 1 year old, she never felt like she needed to remarry. She continued to work and take care of herself all on her own. Later on, when she lost her youngest son and her granddaughter in a tragic train wreck, she faced it with perseverance, strength, and, of course, a couple of chocolate chip cookies, just like she’d always done. Every few months, I get to enjoy another gift from Maw Maw. In the summer of 1993, Maw Maw gave me her diamond engagement ring on my promise that I would give it only to Missy. I proposed to Missy with that ring in the fall of 1993, and Missy and I were married in May 1994. Maw Maw enjoyed seeing Missy wear that ring for another four years until her death in August 1998. Missy still wears that ring today as a part of her wedding ring set. She wears it exactly as it was when Maw Maw gave it to me and exactly the same as it was when Maw Maw was given it by my grandfather many, many years ago.

Thanks, Maw Maw, for still delivering on your promises every day.

-J. Kevin Tharpe | 1

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