Today would have been my Mema's 80th birthday. My mom, Spencer, and I are going to the cemetery to put the pink and blue hydrangeas that she loved so much on her grave. Well, actually in the vase on her grave - such strict rules these places have now!
While I still am shaky on my faith (but I'm working on it) I have always believed that when I'm talking to her she is listening. I miss her every day. I don't think it's just a coincidence that her dog we inherited is Spencer's best non-human friend. But then again, I'm always on the look out for "signs" from her, something that shows me she's watching over us.
I'm the brat in my family- everyone else is mild-mannered and obedient. Even though she got on me for my smart mouth, she was also my ally. She loved me and she was proud of me. She's been gone for three years now, but there are still so many times that I say to myself "I need to call Mema, she'll know the answer," only to remember that I can't.
She taught me how to sew, how to knit, how to crochet and even how to properly iron pockets inside of the pants. I never had a store bought Halloween costume because each year she always made mine and they were AWESOME! I always won best costume at every party.
She was a proud breast cancer survivor, a generous donor, an unfailingly loyal wife. She was June Carter Cash's BFF in high school, she was my BFF for always. When my Papa first moved to Richmond he saw her walking down the street as he drove by. He stopped, rolled down the window, and said "I'm gonna marry you one day." She thought he was crazy, but by the time she got to her house, he was already there, asking her father if he could court his daughter.
She was beautiful. She was also smart. Even though she never went to college, she was excellent with numbers. While working a full time job she also did taxes for many people. She saved her money and was an excellent investor. She firmly believed the only safe way to invest money was long term and low yield. All of her stocks were blue chip, because she preferred earning only a penny rather than losing a dollar.
She took care of my Papa for four years while he became a shell of his former self due to Alzheimer's Disease. When she finally had no other choice but to put him in a nursing home, they told her they had never seen another patient as far along as he was being admitted for the first time. She hated having to leave him there, even though she spent every day, hours upon hours visiting him. She did his laundry, ironed all of his clothes (even his handkerchiefs) and cut his hair. When I asked her why she spent so much time making sure there were no wrinkles in his pants, making the crease perfectly even, and the handkerchiefs in four perfect squares, she said "Your Papa would be mortified if he knew he was walking around in wrinkled pants! And it's just good taste to have neat handkerchief!"
She was a Godly woman, a virtuous woman. She read the Bible everyday and never missed, or was late to, any church service. I sat beside her in church every Sunday, from the time when she gave me Werther's Originals and let me draw on her bulletins, to the time when she let me takes naps on her shoulder, shielding me so my mom wouldn't see me asleep, to the time when she would ask me what chapter of the Bible we were on because she couldn't hear what the Preacher said.
I'll never forget the time she gave me Ruth Graham's autobiography as a random gift one day. She was so nervous because she didn't want me to think she was giving me the book because I was doing something wrong in my life. She had read it and thought it was a great example of a Godly woman who was also strong and independent. I still have the book, it's always in my nightstand drawer.
I don't think it's humanly possible for me to convey how much she influenced my life, how much I love her, or how much I miss her. Her death was so sudden and so shocking, and for some terrible reason that day is one that I can't forget. I'm pretty good at blocking out bad memories, mostly because I'm not good at dealing with them, but everything about August 28th is etched into my brain. It's the day I lost my ally, my friend, my problem solver, and in some ways, my faith.
Every year I go to her grave on her birthday and sing to her. I tell her how I miss her snarkiness even though she would have no clue what snarky meant. I ask her to try and make sure I don't forget her stories and her life- because I want to share them with Spencer. Every year I cry a bucket of tears and wish I could hear her say "Get a hold of yourself! A lady doesn't weep in public!" Then I laugh and think about how lucky I was to have her for 23 years, how grateful I am for all she taught me.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about my her. Spencer has her middle name and when she's old enough, I can't wait to tell her all the stories about her Great-MeMa. So Happy Birthday, I'm sorry I shared with the world your real age! I Love You Always.
God Save the King
1 hour ago