Sweet Mrs. Lela

The Love Thy Neighbor Project
Mrs. Lela and Reagen and her famous cake

Mrs. Lela Rotenberry is our neighbor.  She is 91 years young.  She lives across the road from us and has welcomed us to the neighborhood “from day one” as we say around here. 

Cakes and desserts have come across the street one way from her house to ours for close to 15 years now.  I  would love to say we have returned the hospitality, but that would be a lie.  We only return the empty dishes while trying not to seem to eager for a refill.

We have sent Colby over at 8 years old to fix her cable, because he has always been our family’s tech support.  In the past, I have apologized for the boys playing in her yard “all the while” she is telling me she enjoyed watching them play.

 Jeff has went to help her when she found a snake in her garage.  A few years ago, she would have shot it herself.  It is funny to hear her “how I killed the snake” story.  I try to walk over and carry flowers to her on special occasions.  (No snake killing for me unless we have exercised all other options.)

Reagen, however, went for the interview. At 8 years old, she wanted to be a journalist.   And at 44 apparently, I am following in my daughter’s footsteps. 

I will let her take it from here:

Out of the mouth of Babes

Mrs. Lela never ceases to amaze me with how much spunk she has.  Her sense of humor is as young as any of us and you can’t get much past her.

I love to sit on her back porch and hear stories about “buck dancing” and box lunch auctions.  If it’s late, a train will go by and whistle and drown out the crickets chirping for a minute.

And if you’re really lucky, the mosquitoes won’t bite and you can hear about the time she was going to take the rescue squad training.  I have the utmost respect for Mrs. Lela, so that will remain “off the record”.

I didn’t think she would even know about the podcast.  I was trying to explain it to her and she informed me that she had already listened to it on a recent road trip to Branson, Missouri. 

She has watched people stop and take pictures of the former Woodstock Garden Center.  And, she has even given directions to a couple to the cemetery.  They were impressed that she knew John “since he was a boy”.  She was the mail lady for years and knows everybody.

I called to ask her to make a strawberry cake for the news reporter.  She said she was sick.  Later that evening, she still sent over the cake AND her coconut dessert. She is my hero.  No excuses, there is no quit in her.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you how comical I thought it was to picture Mrs. Lela with a set of headphones on listening to John B. rant.  I know it was wrong, but I asked her, “Did you learn any new cuss words?”

She was smart enough not to reply.

Don’t laugh,


The pot of gold on Rotenberry Lane

9 thoughts on “Sweet Mrs. Lela

  1. As with your previous blogs, I very much enjoyed this and found myself reading with a smile on my face. I love your storytelling and the familiar feeling that radiates from each blog. I, too come from a small town where phrases like, “Mrs. Margaret’s cake”, can spark a slew of stories about people, places and memories.

    Thank you for allowing us a peek into your (and John’s) world!


  2. Beautiful reading Cheryl .. all of them. Thank you for these snippets of your life and giving us a peak into Johns world and Woodstock. Mrs Lela sounds like a true gem but I can only say it’s a blessing she is not my neighbour. i could eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner if it were available and my hips wouldn’t thank me. Looking forward to some more stories – of you all.


  3. Thank you Cheryl for this …. Sweet Mrs. Lela! You see, I love this woman dearly, she is my Mother. It brought laughter and tears to my eyes as I enjoyed reading your story about her. She truly LOVES Woodstock and all the people who live here. Thank you and Jeff, for also being kind and generous to my Mother……she loves your family.
    Libby (Rotenberry) Burns
    Woodstock, AL❣️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is just the kind of precious soul she is. You can also find her every Sunday morning at Mission Baptist Church where she starts the service with a loud “Good Morning ” and a smile. She sets an example. If she can manage to get up and come to church at her age I think most of us can to. She is definitely one I would refer to as the heart of the community.

    Liked by 1 person

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