Angel finds it hard to retire
GOSPEL SINGERS The Heavenly Angels gospel singing group enjoys praising the Lord with song. They are, clockwise from left, Carol Neal, Georgia Boyd, Janice Carlisle, Betty Johnson and Ola Holliday. PHOTO BY PAULA MERRITT / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 24, 2002
Ola Holliday still rises before the sun most mornings. It's been her habit since she was 5 years old.
Often, she starts her day before 4 a.m. with a 4- or 5-mile walk. Sometimes she doesn't keep up with the distance she just walks.
She reads her Bible daily and attends church at St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church, where she sings in the choir and has been a member of the Heavenly Angels gospel singing group for three years.
Ola, 62, retired last month after 31 years as a certified nurse assistant at Riley Hospital.
Ola moved to Meridian from Kosciusko in 1963. She had four children. One of her daughters, Sharon, died in February 1993 with complications from sickle cell anemia. Two of her other children, both adults, also have the hereditary blood disease.
Ola became a certified nurse assistant in 1971. Sharon, who would have been 39 this month, was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia when she was about 4 years old.
People with the disease have a lot of pain, sometimes starting in their joints. Many times, sickle Cell Patients have to have blood transfusions.
Twice divorced, Ola said she worked, took care of the children and got them to school with God's help.
Ola worked in Riley Hospital's Home Health Services department the 18 years.
Lynn Joiner, director of Home Health Services, said Ola is missed and she described her as an angel.
Ola said she already misses the work she loved, but there are plenty of other people in her life to care for her three children, nine grandchildren and her parents who still live in Kosciusko where she was raised.
She is the oldest of seven children. That's why she has gotten up so early in the morning since she was small.
She remembers trying to make biscuits when she was 5. She grew up on a farm where she also milked cows, picked and chopped cotton, slopped hogs and wrung the necks of many chickens for the dinner table.
No one who knows Ola believes she will ever stop taking care of others. After all, that's what angels do.
She said she will always care for others.
She said the music she sings at churches with the Heavenly Angels is like that, too.