This is an opinion piece.

If I started writing now and never stopped, I couldn’t say enough about how much my mother, Shelba Allen, loved me and impacted my life.

The woman who loved me first and loved me the longest went home to be with the Lord on Jan. 23 at 2:42 p.m.

Her husband of 63 years, Edwin; my brother, Jeff; my beautiful bride, Malarie; myself and other family members and friends, including Mom’s sister, Jeanette McMullins, surrounded her bedside as she slipped into eternity to meet her Lord.

Mother accepted Christ as a girl growing up in the Painter community, and she spent the remainder of her life in service to her Savior.

She taught Sunday school, discipleship training and vacation Bible school at Liberty Baptist Church, where she is best remembered for serving as its devoted and talented pianist for more than 50 years.

Mother loved unconditionally, just like Christ teaches in the Holy Bible but few practice. Mother made everyone feel special. Her smile and gentle spirit warmed her home, her church and anywhere else life led her.

Max Rider is a member of Liberty Baptist Church, and he said Mom was an example of walking the straight and narrow.

Mom considered the Rev. Philip Elliott her nephew, because he married her niece, Ann Johnson. Philip preached during Mom’s funeral service, and he said she met every characteristic of a virtuous woman from Proverbs 31.

I loved to hear Mom pray. Several people told Malarie and I that if Shelba Allen said she was praying for you, she meant it. She was a true prayer warrior.

Mother fed countless souls with her sourdough bread, which became known as “Mrs. Shelba’s bread” among our church family. That great American, Sam Dooley, referred to it as “manna from Heaven.”

Mom was a proud graduate of Crossville High School, a member of the class of 1953. She took offense if someone dared speak harshly of CHS. She bled black and gold to the end.

Mother also loved the Crimson Tide. Jeff, Malarie and I are all graduates of the University of Alabama. Mom’s poundcake was a Tuscaloosa tailgating staple, and it was my favorite dessert of hers. I can taste it now.

Since her death, I’ve yearned for those childhood and teen years with Mother, the ones I took for granted because I was too young to understand how the years would fly, just like she said they would.

I’d like one more trip to Dover’s or Fant’s in Crossville to buy groceries, and I promise I wouldn’t complain if she spent hours in a fabric shop. Mom was a talented seamstress, sewing clothes for Jeff, me, her nieces and nephews, her church family, her friends and herself.

I want to go back to those summers in the 1970s and early 1980s, the ones filled with shucking and silking corn, shelling peas and stringing green beans, when Mom instilled a work ethic in me that now helps provide for my family of five.

Mom gained a daughter when Malarie and I married in December 2012, and the Lord has blessed with us three beautiful children, sons James and Brady and daughter Maggie Jo. Our kids became the lights of Mother’s life.

Bro. Philip said Mom told him she had the best-looking grandchildren that had ever been born. It’s my prayer all three of them grow up to love the Lord and serve him like Grandmother did.

I picture Mom playing piano in a Heavenly choir with Uncle Curtis Reeves directing. Granddaddy and Grandmother Hammonds, Aunt Wynell Reeves, Aunt Latrell and Uncle Barney Johnson, Uncle Kermit and Aunt Ernestine Hammonds and Uncle R.C. Hammonds join them in that choir. They’re singing a glorious new song I can’t wait to hear, and someday I will.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said men are what their mothers made them. I’m thankful to have been made by Shelba Jean Hammonds Allen. I love you, Mama.

Shannon J. Allen is sports editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at

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