Today my mother, Lillie Bell Marshall, would have been 70 years old. To celebrate her life and honor her memory, I, Jae Henderson, Ms. Marshall’s only child, released photographs I took in my mother’s vintage clothing. I also launched a scholarship in her honor as well. It will be awarded to students who are pursuing higher education despite challenging or debilitating circumstances. The pictures and details of the scholarship can be viewed at www.lilliesdaughter.com (Lillie’s Daughter).
My mother passed away on March 12, 2014, after spending almost a month in ICU battling complications stemming from kidney failure and congestive heart failure. While going through my mother’s things, I discovered a gorgeous collection of vintage clothes and accessories. I decided to do a photo shoot as a way to give the world the opportunity to see my mother as I do. My mother kept to herself so most people never really got a chance to know her but she was a beautiful soul with a good heart. She loved God. She enjoyed laughing, baking, doing yard work and fashion. I am the woman I am because of my mother. My mother also suffered from mental illness. Eventually, it became so bad that she couldn’t maintain employment. She was a single mother and she refused to let her illness keep her from being a good parent. I was well cared for. She also demanded that I excel in my studies and stay out of trouble. She was my first example of perseverance and beating the odds. She’s my shero.
The tribute photos are a mixture of old and new. I selected five outfits. The majority of the clothing is from the 1970’s and blend well against the décor of the contemporary studio where the shoot was done. I’m taller than her mother was so any pants and shoes in the photos belong to me, except for a pair of brown leather and suede boots I forced my feet into. The majority of the accessories are my mother’s as well.
The Silver Bell Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in 2017 to two students who are attending college despite overwhelming odds. Those overwhelming odds can include things like mental or physical illness, a learning disability, being a foster child, homelessness and other extenuating circumstances that could cause a young person to abandon their dream of obtaining a college education. To qualify, students must be at least a sophomore and enrolled in a two or four year college. However, before I can support deserving students, she first has to raise the money. She gave the initial seed money of $1,000 and has set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise more.
I want my mother’s memory to live on in something other than myself. She had a lot to give that the world never had the chance to see. The photo shoot was a lot of fun but this scholarship is my way of giving a little piece of her to future generations. I love my mother and miss her dearly.
If you still have your parents hold them close and be sure to tell them you love them.