Silsbee mom, 5 children killed in fire laid to rest
Hundreds filled a Beaumont church on Saturday to mourn a Silsbee mother and her five children, known as the “Mattox Five,” who were killed in an Oct. 18 fire.
Ashley Pickering’s loved ones stood up one by one to describe the “goofy” and “grounded” 31-year-old, who was repeatedly praised for being a “compassionate” mother to Cristian Mattox, 11; Serenity Mattox, 7; twins Cash and Cavence Mattox, 4; and Camden Mattox, 3.
Philip Hixson, Pickering’s manager at the Beaumont Panera Bread, spoke of her incomparable work ethic and devotion to her kids.
“Her motivation for being there was clear,” Hixson said. “Ashley’s family was her world ... They were the reason she pushed through life’s trials and tribulations.”
A video was played during the service at Cathedral Church of the Pines of Pickering lip-synching the John Mayer song, “Daughters,” to her father, Ricky Pickering. Once a fun memory, the now cherished video shows Pickering and her children dancing and running around.
Teachers from Silsbee ISD and coaches from the Silsbee Junior Football and Cheer League remembered the two oldest children, Cristian and Serenity, speaking of his outgoing personality and her infectious smile.
Cristian’s football teammates assembled on a stage behind the six caskets -- standing in a straight line, shoulder to shoulder, wearing their jerseys.
The Mattox children were a team amongst themselves, loved ones said. They never worried about their own individual wants and referred to themselves always as “us.” They were a strong family unit, aunts and uncles said.
The twins, Cavence and Cash, went by the nicknames of David and Boo, respectively. Camden, 4, was known as Wooga. He was his mother’s “little man” and all three of the youngest boys melted the hearts of strangers with their curious and friendly personalities, family members said.
The grieving family is still trying to understand what happened on the night of the fire. Pickering and her children living in a converted dwelling behind Ricky Pickering’s home. The dwelling was destroyed, but Ricky Pickering’s home was not damaged.
Hardin County Sheriff Mark Davis said investigators believe the fire was accidental, but are still determining its cause.
It could be weeks before the family gets its answer.
Following the funeral, which was a joint effort from members of the Cathedral of the Pines Church and Simon’s Memorial Church of God in Christ in Silsbee, Pickering and her children were buried at the Kirby Cemetery in Silsbee.
The blended celebration of their lives was a good representation of the blended family, loved ones said.
The children’s father, Tyrone Mattox, originally said he didn’t know if he would have the composure to speak at the service. When he spoke, Mattox thanked the Pickering family for welcoming him as a son and for showing his children love.
Mattox and Pickering were no longer living together when the fire occurred.
“Memories will always be with me,” Mattox said. “But I will see them again.”
His mother, Lynda Hickson, said her grandbabies called her Wama because they couldn’t pronounce grandma. Whenever they would leave her house, they would grab their backpacks and tell her they’ll see her in the morning.
“So I say to them now, ’I’ll see you in the morning,” Hickson said.