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.