A Special Tribute: My Mom Went to Heaven Last Week

Barbara McKay Mother

My mom and I were extraordinarily close my entire life and she had such a powerful influence on me that I thought I should pay tribute to her.

She was the definition of a true southern Steel Magnolia, so very feminine and beautiful with a strong will and uncommon fortitude. She was loving, caring, generous and nurturing, while being also witty, independent, sensible and so much fun. She was a fashion model and a businesswoman, but her true passion was being a wife, mother and grandmother, while turning homemaking into an art. There were many things I admired about her, but here are a few that especially had an impact on me.

She was really beautiful and never knew it. All my life I wanted to look like her. I never did. I even looked up my birth certificate thinking I must be adopted, but it said I was hers, so I thought maybe I would GROW to look like her. I never did and I think it would have happened by now.

She was an extremely talented seamstress and dress designer. From the time I was born, she made beautiful things for me, from birthday dresses with starched pinafores and matching hair ribbons all the way to the many outfit changes I wore in my senior play. She would begin designing and planning my wardrobe a season ahead just like the big designers. I tried so hard to develop that skill. Never happened, but I sure do appreciate well-made, pretty clothes.


She was known for her delicious food. We had huge southern meals every night with fabulous desserts. Friends came to our home everyday, not just to enjoy her fun company and welcoming spirit, but to also have the dessert of the day. I worked very hard to develop that skill. I never became the cook that she was, but I got to play one on TV.

She made my television career happen, too. She came to my home one day while I was rocking my baby, Elizabeth. She looked at me and said, “You need to get out of the house and do something with yourself.” She pointed at the TV and said, “You could do that.” Before I could object, she picked up the phone book, looked up WBTV, called the number, asked for personnel, handed me the phone and said, “Tell them you would like an interview.” I obeyed.

The most important quality that she made sure was a part of my life is faith…the importance of loving the Lord. That one I got, which means I will see her again one day. Meanwhile, I will do my best to overcome my sadness that she is gone and focus on the fact that she was HERE.


I’d like to send a special thanks to Bryan McRae of Botanica, a Charlotte-based company specializing in preserved botanicals, for gifting this beautiful spray that was displayed on my mother’s casket.

  1. Just beautiful Barbara..I will have to say Bryan does beautiful work and I know your Mom would have loved the bright colors..So glad you have wonderful memories of your mom..She raised a lovely daughter with many talents..Bless you my friend..

    1. You do have a very talented and loving brother, Lynn! And so are YOU!! Blessings and gratitude to you for being there for me!

  2. Thinking of you, Barbara. Our mothers were very similar, both having grown up in the depression. They could do anything and do it well!

    Wishing you peace as you reflect on your memories and a life well lived.

  3. Beautiful memories!
    Barbara, I did NOT know your Mom called WBTV Personnel and handed you the phone!
    LOL! LOVE it.
    Your mom was obviously one of a kind, gracious, loving and fun….and you are, too.
    So in that way, you are very much alike.
    Love you and am so sorry for your loss.
    Lori T.

    1. I remember your beautiful mom, Lori! We share so many special memories and you will always be one of my most treasured friends.
      Yes, you see where I got my tenacity, LOL I’m glad I didn’t just hang up the phone when she handed it to me because I would have missed out on meeting and becoming friends with one of my most favorites …YOU!
      Love you lots!

  4. Through your words, we understand the bond and love you share. It never leaves. It is simply renewed down the road, after while…….💝


    1. Having you with me on that day, Curtis was priceless and so deeply appreciated!! And I love my possum drawing which will be seen on this site soon! Love, blessings and happy birthday to you.

  5. Barbara, you are just as beautiful as your lovely mother in all ways. You were a wonderful daughter and she was very proud of you.

    1. I needed and appreciate your kind and wonderful words so very much! You are so beautiful inside and out. Taking the time to share this with me is evidence of that. Love!!

  6. That is a beautiful and heart warming tribute about your mother. You are just as beautiful as your mom. But more important you are beautiful on the inside Barbara. I have admired you for many years. I’m so sorry about your loss. I cant imagine. My mom is 79 and my best friend. Cant imagine losing her. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    1. My dear Hope,
      Thank you for this very special message. YOU are beautiful to take the time to be so kind to me. Your mom is blessed with a wonderful daughter and I am blessed that you cared enough to share such kind words.

  7. Barbara,

    What a beautiful and loving tribute to your Mother! She was obviously a wonderful woman, and I know you will miss her. My Mother passed away on Christmas Eve morning 10 years ago. I miss her so much, and I reflect on our special relationship all the time.

    I am certain your Mother was very proud of you; so I disagree with one thing you said. You are a lovely, talented woman, just like her, and I’m sure she agreed!

    I pray your Christmas will be blessed with the comfort of knowing she loved you so much!

  8. It took an exceptional mother like her to produce an extraordinary daughter like you. I hold you close in my heart and in my prayers, my precious friend.

  9. What a wonderful tribute to a lovely lady. Thank you for sharing what you learned from her. I wish I had met her so I could thank her for raising such an outstanding daughter and helping you launch you’re amazing career in media that continues today. That’s a great story! I cannot even imagine how proud she was of you.

    1. I have always treasured our friendship, Olivia, and this beautiful, uplifting message from you is a perfect example of the reasons you are so very dear to me. Thank you, my talented, beautiful dear friend.

  10. Dear Barbara,
    My deepest and heartfelt sympathy and prayers to you in the lose of your wonderful Mother. Thank you for sharing with us about her attributes and beauty. You are very blessed to have had such a talents and loving, kind Mom. May you be greatly blessed with all good memories about her. Thank you and God bless !

    1. My dear Sandi, this precious and meaningful message from you lifts my spirits so much. The fact that I have friends like you who do amazing work and take the time to help me feel better would make my mom so very proud. I send my heartfelt gratitude.

    1. My dear Crystal, it is a pure joy getting to know you and this meaningful message to me is just one example of the many reasons I am happy we are friends. I send such gratitude and look forward to a happy 2017.

  11. You are a very blessed woman Barbara to have such a wonderful, talented, loving Mother for so many years. Obviously, this apple didn’t fall far from the tree. God bless you and help you heal in this time of grief.

    Charlotte Barnett

  12. You are your mothers’ daughter in all the ways you listed. She shared her many talents with others as you continue to do. She gave you many precious gifts that helped you become the woman you are today; including strength, wisdom, and grace, until you are reunited again.

  13. Hello Barbara – Happy Saturday and Merry Christmas 🎄 to me everyday is Christmas Day and renewal of our birthday in Christ Jesus.

    Barbara, I will like to thank you for sharing such a beautiful gift … The Spirit of your mom( the greater one in her, the light, direction , the guiding nurturing light) which Prepard you for your greatest gift that God sent you here with… Through her!

    Your mom was truly doing God work and you stood in obedience . So great !

    I would like to express, while reading your tribute to your mom; I discovered when I met you that day at Ballard Designs! you truly have your mom’s Spirit. “I met your mom ” you do look like her … you have her warmth ,nurturing spirit, and her smile ( great is he that is in 🙏🏽)

    I actually experienced what you experienced years ago when your mom walked into the room … While you were with your daughter Elizabeth ( Elizabeth is my middle name actually ) 🙏🏽

    Over at Ballard designs ,the evening you were in… I was actually looking down at the cloth napkins, your voice …the warmth of your voice , familiar! but there was a nurturing and calming spirit God bless you Barbara

    I apologize if my writings here are all over the place I just got so excited after I read your contribute to your mom grace , which came from God that supplied her with everything she needed to move her family forward 🙏🏽. Barbara! Enjoy … have a great and wonderful day in Christ Jesus

    Barbara , I have passed your website blog to a few friends , hopefully they will visit and enjoy as much as I have !😀

    What a great connection!

    Warm Regards,

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