Homespun wisdom is a vanishing art in Southern storytelling. But Cornelia Wills has found a way to keep it alive with her new book, “Mama Said: A Word to the Wise is Sufficient.”
The Eastaboga native will be coming home Sunday for a book signing at Sunlight Missionary Baptist Church.
Wills attended Talladega County High School before graduating from Austin Peay State University and receiving her doctorate from Tennessee State University. Currently, she serves as director of student success at Middle Tennessee State University.
“Mama Said” is a compilation of what Wills called “pearls of wisdom,” gathered from her family and her own experiences.
“I was inspired to chronicle the childhood lessons that I still hold so dear,” she said. “The wisdom that I learned while growing up under the watchful care of my late mother, Rosa Lee Wills, was so very important in helping me to avoid pitfalls and to successfully navigate life.”
The book has been a long time coming. “The idea to write the book actually occurred in 1995,” Wills said. “At that time, my mother’s sayings were collected and compiled from my siblings. About two years ago, I decided to resurrect the project and bring it to fruition.”
Wills credits one of her mama’s sayings for her personal faith. She remembers clearly the first time she heard her mama say, “Sho‘ as you born, you got to die.”
“I was very young — around 6 or 7 — and just could not fathom this — having to die. I remember repeating, ‘We’ve got to die?’ At this point, I started reading the Bible and credit this for my salvation, because I wanted to go to heaven.”