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Telling it like it is: A tribute to Aunt Kat
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I'm dedicating this column to one of the sweetest ladies God put on this earth, my Aunt Kat. I promised not to spill all the beans because she's very special to me, but, today is a very special day to brag on her a little and tell her how much she means to me.

Aunt Kat is a remarkable woman in many ways, but she has reason for celebration because Wednesday, April 13 is her 95th birthday. If you're blessed to reach this milestone, you've earned every right to be pampered, honored and celebrate this special occasion and I can assure you she will.

What makes this celebration even sweeter is what Aunt Kat has been through in just the last month. Just a few weeks before Easter, she had a mild heart attack and has been in the hospital and rehab but to nobody's surprise, she bounced back with flying colors. She's one of those people who surprises everyone, especially the doctors and nurses and continues to amaze, inspire and touch others.

Now, it would be impossible to name just one thing that makes Aunt Kat so special, but I think her love for others is right up there at the top. She's best known for her country cooking, especially her chicken and dumplings, and she could turn out a spread to feed a crowd in no time. Aunt Kat's specialty has always been cooking, whether at home, at Corrine's Country Biscuits or at the senior citizen center. Serving and taking care of others is one thing she always took pride in.

Uncle Terrell and Aunt Kat had a very sweet and special 40-year love story. Uncle Terrell used to joke and say she was a mighty special woman ‘cause nobody else could love him and keep him in line like her! God sure knew what He was doing when He brought these two together. Their happiness came from sharing everything together, whether it was fishing, hunting, traveling, dancing, playing cards or entertaining family and friends.

Aunt Kat and Uncle Terrell met while living in Orlando, Florida and moved to Georgia in 1966, with 10 children still living at home. They lived in the mill village in a big, two story house and no matter when you stopped by, somebody was always visiting. Aunt Kat and Uncle Terrell are extra special folks and after meeting them the first time, you're no longer strangers but part of a big family. We're talking a very big family with 14 children, 66 grandchildren, 40-plus great grandchildren and great great grandchildren and that doesn't include their extended family of ‘adopted children and grandchildren.’

Their home was always bustling with children, grandchildren, friends, fun, laughter and life. No matter how crowded it was, there was always room to squeeze in a few more. I can't remember Aunt Kat and Uncle Terrell not being a part of my life and I learned so much from them and shared many happy memories, milestones and good times.

Uncle Terrell passed away in 1998 but Aunt Kat carries on through the family and the love her beloved Terrell left behind. I have no doubt he'd be mighty proud of her, as we all are. She's very independent, has a youthful zest for life and still enjoys driving, getting her hair done every week and playing Bingo and cards.

Make no mistake, she's still got a few tricks up her sleeve and can hold her own with the best of them. More often than not, she outdoes her daughter and granddaughter playing cards. But as granddaughter Kathy says, it's bad to get outdone by your Grandma but it gives you something awesome to measure up to.

Known for her beautiful red hair and sweet, caring nature, Aunt Kat always has a smile and laugh to share. She has rubbed off on all of us through the years, but, she ain't done yet.

I've been blessed to have several sets of grandparents -- those by birth and by marriage, and those who adopted me into their extended family and filled my life with a lifetime of love that will live on forever.

Thank you Aunt Kat for being such a very special part of my life and may you have the best birthday ever! I love you with all my heart!