There are a lot of names that people use to refer to their grandmother: grandma, nana, gram, granny, and the list goes on and on. But we always called my mother’s mother by one name: Yellow Mama. A one-of-a-kind name for an amazing woman. You’ve never met anyone who loved God or her family more than Yellow Mama.
Here’s the story of how she got her nickname and a little bit about the impact that she had on me and everyone who knew her.
My oldest cousin had two dolls when she was a little girl. One of the dolls she called “yellow doll” and the other she called “pink doll.” She began to refer to her mom as Pink Mama and her grandmother Yellow Mama. Over time she stopped calling her mother Pink Mama but she continued to call her grandmother Yellow Mama. Her little sister followed her example and called her grandmother Yellow Mama. And so did the rest of us 23 grandkids. I never called my grandmother by any other name.
Irene Davis was born in 1914. She married my grandfather Clyde Kimbro in 1934. They had nine children (2 sons and 7 daughters), and my mom is the youngest of the children. Irene Davis Kimbro – Yellow Mama – came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior early in her life, and she walked with Christ all of her days.
Tragedies didn’t shake her faith in Christ. Sadly, one of their daughters only lived a few months. The loss of a child is a terrible tragedy, but Yellow Mama continued to walk closely with the Lord. Her husband died when her youngest child (my mom) was only 2 years old, yet that didn’t shake Yellow Mama’s faith either. She continued to walk with faith in the Lord. Even though she never had a driver’s license, she amazingly raised eight children as a young widow, a single mom.
Yellow Mama’s faith was displayed in her unwavering hope in the Lord. And her love for people. And her care for the “least of these.” And the way she served others. Especially her homemade buttermilk biscuits. Yumm!! And the kind, encouraging words she would use with everyone.
Yellow Mama was a prayer warrior. She read the Bible daily. She was a wonderful Bible study teacher. She was committed to her church family, faithfully attending and inviting others to worship services, Bible studies and special events.
Here’s an example of how she practically put her faith into action in the raising of her children: They tell me that when a young man would come to date one of her daughters, her first question to him would be: “What is your favorite book of the Bible?” What a great question! That simple question would lead to a great conversation between the young man and Yellow Mama about that young man’s faith in Christ, and how he would be treating her daughter on the date!
Yellow Mama loved the Lord. She prayed for her kids and grandkids, and had such a strong desire to see us all come to faith in Christ. She got excited when we got saved and then publicly declared our faith in Christ through believer’s baptism. She was so happy to see someone in her family serving the Lord in whatever way the Lord was calling them to serve. She loved to hear us speaking kind words, showing love to one another, helping others. When the Lord called me into pastoral ministry, she gave me my very first study Bible.
Yellow Mama was rich in faith. Our family had a wonderful example of a godly woman in her. When she passed away in 1994, her legacy did not die. One example is by our Kimbro family Christmas party each December. When we all get together (almost 100 of us), we eat some great food, give gifts to one another, and enjoy being together. But the focus of the evening is when the family in charge of the “program” that year begins to tell the story of the first Christmas. The star of our Christmas party is Jesus.
And Yellow Mama wouldn’t have had it any other way.