Ballard: Small figurine brings happy memories

March 2, 2014 

This clown figurine was a gift from Mark Ballard’s mother to a close friend of hers, Ida Powell.


Ida Powell, one of my mother’s close friends through the years, had been trying to reach me for some time. She wanted to come by and bring me something. With our crazy schedule, it’s very difficult sometimes to get schedules coordinated. Unless things get placed on our crowded, ever-changing calendar, they usually don’t happen.

Debra contacted Ida and they agreed on a date. Ida dropped by our home a few days later. I hadn’t seen her in some time and was really looking forward to her visit -- but my time was limited, as it always seems to be.

Our front door bell rang and I greeted Ida at the door. She was holding a gift bag tightly in one hand and her purse in the other. Ida is a very petite woman and I offered to take something from her to free up her hands. With a smile on her face, she handed me the gift bag.

“This was from your mother and I wanted you to have it. That is, if you want it,” she said in a soft voice. I didn’t care what was in the bag. Ida had me at “a gift from your mother.” I think most everyone knows exactly how I feel about my mother. I offered Ida a chair and the two of us sat in our living room.

“You’re a very hard person to catch up with,” Ida said. And indeed, she was right. Diligently, she had called me since last fall wanting to know when she could come by and bring me a surprise.

“It’s something your mother gave me many years ago and I thought you might like to have it,” she said on one of her phone messages. Before I knew it, Christmas had come and gone and now spring was waiting just around the corner.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” I said to Ida while keeping my eye on the gift bag. I couldn’t wait to see what Mother had given Ida all those years ago. I didn’t know what to expect. I reached in and carefully pulled out a small porcelain figurine. It was a clown, glazed in various shades of blue and other pastel colors. I recognized it the second I saw it because I had definitely seen it before. I smiled as I looked, taking in every detail. I didn’t want to let it go. To me it was worth more than gold.

I actually remember when Mother purchased it for Ida. Mother loved that it was a clown and so did I. Mother had such a wonderful sense of humor. Just looking into the face of the clown, all sorts of memories swept over me. Like breaths of fresh air from another time and place, this little porcelain clown seem to beckon them all.

I couldn’t say thank you enough to Ida who had made such an effort to get it to me. As every one of us knows, we all have good intentions of getting in touch with or sending something to someone but life has a way of speeding up the clock and a day turns into a week and a week into a month.

However, Ida had not given up. And, as I sat there beside her, I was so grateful.

I finally placed the little clown down on the table next to me so I could visit with Ida. Although it wasn’t any longer in my hand, I still kept looking over at it from time to time to make sure it was still there. Ida explained that she was parting with some of her treasures since she was getting older.

“My children and grandchildren have requested certain things, but I told them I wanted to save the little clown for you,” she said, pointing to it.

“And I’m so thrilled that you did,” I said smiling.

From that point on, I lost complete track of time as Ida expressively guided me on a delightful trip down memory lane. She was so excited to tell me of her times shared with Mother and Daddy. Many of them I knew about; others I was hearing about for the first time. Even though I had many things to do, I was transfixed with her stories and didn’t want her to leave.

Looking around our living room, I really expected to see Mother and Daddy sitting on the sofa across the room but was very disappointed when I realized they weren’t. Although they physically hadn’t been with us for many years, they were vividly represented in Ida’s memories.

There was something magical about seeing something that Mother had physically purchased and held at one time while talking with a lady with whom she was so closely intertwined that made me feel Mother’s presence all around the room. My whole day was made and all it took was slowing down long enough for a good old-timey visit.

As I helped Ida out and shut the front door, I must admit I was sad to see the visit end. The first thing I did was go back over to the table and pick up the little porcelain clown. Although I’m sure it isn’t the finest of porcelain, in my eyes it is so special. My mother had given it to Ida and now Ida had passed it on to me.

There’s no way to put a cost on a wonderful memory. If there were, none of us would be able to afford them! But that little clown sure helped me remember some very special times. Ida, thanks from the bottom of my heart.

More with Mark

• Join Mark at Historic Macon’s first Design, Wine and Dine Festival on March 7-8. The two-day fundraiser features nationally-known authors, designers, chefs and more. Mark will do two demonstrations including making his famous caramel cake. For all the details and tickets, visit or call 478-742-5084.

• Visit for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff including Mark’s tees, prints, cards and his collectible porcelain plates.

• Mark is on 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email

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