This won’t mean anything to anyone but the thousands of people whose lives were touched by Miss Malinda Montgomery. She was the sweetest, most gentle soul I ever encountered in all my life. She was like a feather, you didn’t even know she was touching you, but she was.
Miss Malinda died today and the entire city of West Point, Mississippi, grieves her loss. She was in her mid-eighties, but to me, she looked just the way she did in 1954, when she tried to do something with the rowdies who were in her Sunday School class at the First Presbyterian Church.
Miss Malinda operated a flower shop in the Point, and she always smelled like roses. I never saw her without a smile on her face and never heard her without an encouraging word for the likes of me, an awkward adolescent with zero self esteem and a nose full of freckles.
She told me I was beautiful, and I believed her in spite of what I saw in the mirror.
“She was a rock,” said Ruthie Weathers, who bought her flower shop when Miss Malinda retired. “She would always help me carry on the tradition.”
“We would wander through the cemetery whenever people would call us from far away to put flowers on the graves of their loved ones. She was determined to find the grave.”
I last saw Miss Malinda in June and marveled at how she had not aged. I remember asking if I could come drink some of her water – surely that must be the secret.
Probably not. She had found a place of peace and love that many of us will never reach. Today she is dancing in heaven and I hope I will see her again.