By MICAH HENRY
Mother. Grandmother. Hard working wife. Loving sister. Thoughtful neighbor. These and more complimentary adjectives are among the many kind words used to describe The Times’ 2021 Mother of the Year, Mrs. Lena Bell Parsons Barnes, of Taylorsville.
Her granddaughter, Megan Barnes, lovingly wrote the prize winning essay about her grandmother in this year’s contest.
Lena Bell, who was born 74 years ago to Ross and Evelyna Parsons in the Little River Community of Alexander County, is part of a big family — she had six sisters and two brothers.
A devout Christian, Lena Bell is a member of St. John Baptist Church, where she has attended all her life. She was baptized at age 12 there.
“My grandfather, Rev. John Alexander (J.A.) Parsons, helped build St. John Baptist Church,” Lena Bell recalled, “and he was its first pastor.”
Lena Bell graduated from Happy Plains High School in 1965. She married Charlie Barnes in 1968. Lena Bell went on to become a Sunday School teacher at St. John Baptist for twenty years.
Lena Bell and Charlie worked hard to provide for their family. Lena Bell worked at Holly Farms in Hiddenite for ten years, and then went to General Electric for five years. She then worked for E.R. Carpenter for 21 years.
The couple adopted two children: Charles Eric Barnes, who turns 47 this year, and Tameka Lynn Barnes, who will be 41 this year.
Sadly, Charlie passed away in 2015, leaving the matriarch, Lena Bell, to continue guiding the family.
“She was dedicated and worked her whole life, to make sure we would have clothes on our backs and food to eat,” Megan said.
“She would work and still come home, making sure everyone was fed, and up early the next morning to help us with homework,” Megan explained.
Lena Bell and Charlie always tried to make sure the grandchildren could travel.
“We made it our business to take the children somewhere every summer,” Lena Bell recalled.
Sometimes that took the form of a trip to theme parks, like a visit to Tweetsie in Blowing Rock, seeing Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks, traveling to Dollywood, or even a very special trip to Disney World in Florida.
“My husband really loved the Outer Banks,” Lena Bell said. “He loved seeing the lighthouses. And now we have lighthouses everywhere,” as she motioned around the living room. Many brightly colored lighthouse statues decorate the interior.
Megan noted that she and her grandmother share many common favorite activities.
The love for scenic places and beautiful landscapes is part of Megan, too, who has a keen interest in photography.
“She and I love to sing,” Megan said. And both like to travel and see beautiful scenery, and share a passion for cooking.
It makes one hungry, listening to Megan and Lena Bell talk about their favorite recipes: eggs sunny side up, bacon, pancakes, French toast, red velvet cake, carrot cake, orange creme cake, and decaf coffee with French vanilla creamer!
“She means a lot to me. She’s a very Christian woman, loves everybody, and she’s not afraid to tell us if we do something wrong. She’ll give us tough love, so we can learn from our mistakes. And people love to do things for her because she’s always helping others.”
Ever looking onward, and upward, Lena Bell is a rock for her family.
Even when a car wreck in 2008 left her doctors doubtful if she could ever walk again, Lena Bell’s tenacity and faith proved them wrong. A fall in 2016 which broke her hip, and brought on a long, painful recovery, did not stop her. Contracting COVID early this year, which sent her to the hospital for three and a half weeks, still did not stop her.
“She’s overcome so much. She loves the Lord and she makes sure all of us feel special. I couldn’t ask for a better mom than her,” said Megan.
Winning Mother of the Year Essay
We would love to nominate my mama/grandma, Lena Bell Parsons Barnes. She is a wonderful and amazing Christian woman. She has done so much for us; she has been a true light to us.
She has taken us in when we needed a home so she and my papa, her husband, sacrificed and took us in at a young age. I am so thankful and grateful to her.
She has lived in Taylorsville her whole life. She worked at the poultry plant in Hiddenite for 10 years and General Electric for 5 years also.
She worked at E.R Carpenter for 21 years. She dedicated and worked her whole life so she made sure we would have clothes on our backs and food to eat.
She is also a dedicated member of St. John Baptist Church here in Taylorsville, attending since she was a little girl.
She is the best mom anyone could ever ask for. She has been through a lot the past few years, like in Spring 2008 when she was in a serious car accident and the doctors said she might not be able to walk again.
But she also believed in a higher power, The Almighty God, He has healing powers and in a few short months she was up walking and we were so grateful.
And then in 2015, we lost a father and papa, but she lost her husband of 47 years, Charlie Barnes. She has gotten through it with all the memories and love they shared and because she is a strong, courageous woman I truly admire and love so much.
And 6 years later, in 2021, she battled and fought Covid-19 and spent 3 weeks in the hospital. But she beat Covid. She has been going through 6 weeks of physical therapy and she was on a walker but now she uses her cane. She said it was nothing but the good Lord brought her through it all.
She is a strong person. We love her so much, I don’t know what we would do without her. She’s doing so much better and stronger than ever. We are happy and blessed to have her in our lives.
Love, her granddaughter,
Megan Lynn Barnes