As residents throughout Pine Bluff pause to give thanks today, one local mother is especially grateful for her son’s love and dedication.
“Ever since Kenneth was a small boy, he has been attentive,” said 86-year-old Bessie Smith.
Bessie sat on her couch folding laundry as she recalled the days when she came home from a hard day of work at Brown Manufacturing.
“That was probably 1976. He couldn’t have been more than 7 years old,” she says. “ I wouldn’t get much farther than the door and Kenneth would meet me. He would get my feet and legs propped up … They would be hurting. He would rub them.”
Bessie said Kenneth just knew when she needed something. Nowadays, things haven’t changed much. Even when she tries to hide it, Bessie says, “He knows.”
Kenneth Smith has his own family now — a wife, Patricia, and two children —works a full-time job and serves as deacon at his home church, Still, Bessie says he makes time for her every day.
Bessie said Kenneth takes her to all her medical appointments and organizes all her medications. He does the groceries, cuts the grass and even goes clothes shopping with her. Bessie is blind in one eye and has diminished sight in the other.
“He wants to make sure I get the right things.”
Bessie said her son doesn’t just help her, but a lot of other elderly people as well.
Bessie’s friend, Beatrice Goodloe stopped by for a visit and joined the conversation.
“Oh, yes, he really takes care of her. See those flowers out there?” Goodloe asked,
pointing to the well-manicured garden outside the glass patio door. “Kenneth did that.”
Goodloe says she also has a good son, but Kenneth is definitely special. She said she has never seen anything like it.
“He is just so attentive,” she said. “He cares for her like a baby. If she is sick, he is right there, even if it means spending the night. “
Bessie covered her face to hide her tears as her friend spoke.
“I am grateful”, she said.
When asked what he thinks about his mom’s gratitude, Kenneth Smith says he doesn’t feel that he does anything above or beyond what he should be doing.
“It’s just a balance,” he said. “Moms and dads take care of and nurture their kids, and toward the end of the life cycle, kids take care of mom and dad.”
Kenneth said his brother was the primary caregiver for his dad, and although all the other siblings stay in touch, he is the primary caregiver for his mom.
“I’ve always been a momma’s boy,” he said. “When I was growing up, I always wanted to be wherever Mom was…and I still do.”
He said taking care of his mother is never a burden.
“I enjoy it. We have a good relationship and I am glad I am able to do it.”