THEO – Amy Calloway Hester’s memories of her mother are those of a 12-year-old, and what an older sister and brothers have told her.
Betty Calloway died Feb. 1, 1984 after a three-year battle with breast cancer that the family prayed she had survived.
“We had a really good Christmas because she had finished her chemo and doctors said things looked good after her checkup,” Amy Hester said during an interview at her home in the Theo Community. “A few days later, though, she began getting sick again and had to go in the hospital.amp”Hester’s sister, Sandy, was 20 at the time and lived at home with Amy and their father, J.C. Calloway. Her brothers Brian, 22, and Steve, 24, both were married and in their own homes.
She remembers her mother as a woman of great dignity.
“She lost all of her hair with the chemotherapy, but I never saw her without a scarf or a wig on her head,” Hester said. “My sister remembers seeing her without hair, though, because she was so much older.”
The family lived in Jasper, Ala., and Betty Calloway traveled to Birmingham for her treatments.
“My father’s sister always went with her to every appointment,” Hester said.
After her mother’s death it was family, friends, teachers at school and others who gave their support in the years that followed.
“I had never heard of the American Cancer Society before, but they were there for us, too,” Hester said.
She is a board member for the Alcorn County Relay for Life, which she joined after moving to Alcorn County almost three years ago. She came to the county when her husband, Minister Tim Hester, became minister of Theo Church of Christ.
The couple married the week after Hester graduated from high school, and she first became an American Cancer Society volunteer in Charleston when her husband took a preaching job there.
Their 7-year-old daughter, Elizabeth “Betty” Dorrough Hester, was named in honor of both of their mothers.
Through the 21 years of their marriage, Hester has continued to work with the organization wherever they have lived, which includes Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi.
This year she was asked to head the luminary project for the 2011 Alcorn County Relay for Life.
“The luminaries honor survivors or are in memory of someone,” Hester said. “Our next relay will be June 10, and people can purchase the white luminary bags, then decorate them with a picture of the person they are honoring or other decorations.”
Each year’s Relay includes a luminary ceremony during which the candles in the luminary bags are placed along the Relay walk and lit, then survivors and family members of those who have lost the battle against cancer walk the path.
“My brother Steve and his wife volunteer heavily in Jasper, also,” Hester said. “The Relay is very special to our hearts. Mother was a very strong woman throughout her illness, and this is one way we honor that.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LENA MITCHELL / NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau