My Mama

The purple paper of the annual cash raffle tickets for Aubrey’s cheer team caught my peripheral vision a few days ago and sent me into an emotional downward spiral. It’s in the little things, like needing to vent about how disrespectful my child is being and not being able to, or picking up my phone to send a group text to my family telling them it was time to buy the tickets, and having one fewer person to include, that the reality hits me head on – my mom is dead.

I’m trying to keep all the emotional pieces of my kids intact as they deal with the loss of their “Nanny” but all I want to do is run away and pretend it isn’t happening. All I want is to send the pictures I took Tuesday evening of Avery receiving his pole vault championship award to my mom. The last text I sent her was the picture of him taken in Charleston. She was so proud. The last text my sister received from mom was her telling Alyssa Avery’s picture was in the Messenger.

So much of who I am today is attributed to my mom – either because of her example or in spite of it. There were many ways I did not want to be like her, and she supported me in my individuality. She listened to me as an all-knowing college student expound on the discrepancies in the Bible, patiently waiting until it was her turn to talk and reminding me gently that God doesn’t make mistakes, a truth I would cling to when I found myself pregnant at 22. I used to be so annoyed with her whenever we would go anywhere because of how long it took her to get ready; I made it my life’s mission never to be like that and I’m not. If it takes longer than 10 minutes to get ready, I better be going somewhere spectacular.  

It’s difficult to capture a specific moment that demonstrates who she was to us. I remember when I was really little and would get sassy with her she would tell me not to patronize her. I had no idea what that word meant but after a few times I understood it based on its context and her tone of voice. That is important because she is the one who made sure we spoke respectfully, minded our manners and treated other people well. She cared about everyone, but no one more than her own family. Hell hath no fury like a mother protecting her children: mom embodied that completely.

Her generosity set an example for all of her children, and because of her we give freely whatever resources we are blessed to have. I learned as an adult I had to be careful what I told her I liked, because she would buy it for me. I could have used this to my advantage, but she raised me better than that. She taught us to take care of each other, and that we do, so very well. Mom knew the reward was never on this earth, but she had no problem buying herself a $700 purse. I loved that about her. She was worthy of nice things and she made sure her children knew they were too. Whenever we settled for less than, mom was always there to try to give us perspective about our value. She told us consistently that she was proud of us, despite the many unbelievably shortsighted, fear-based decisions we made that undoubtedly broke her heart.

When she became a grandmother, her love was evident in her presence. There is no way I would have been able to navigate those early years without my mother. Her wisdom and experience guided me and gave me the fortitude to be the parent I became. There is no greater love than a mom who comes over, scoops up your baby and makes you take a nap because you haven’t slept in a week. She had tea parties and football games, cooking shows and arts and crafts, nature walks and shopping trips…what I wouldn’t give to say, “Mom, do not let them bring another toy into this house” or “Where were you when I was a kid?” referring to her indulgent candy-is-a-food-group mentality with her grandbabies.

There will never be another phone call to talk about the kids, hear disgusting wound care stories from her job…there will never be another cleaning frenzy preparing for her visit after she moved only to be told to sit my a** down, that she would take care of everything when she got here. I’ll never be able to make fun of another one of her weird purses, or pretend to like some item of clothing she bought me and then reprimanded because she saw right through me.  And she did…she saw right through me, and loved me anyway. She was my biggest cheerleader and my most consistent role model; because of her investing in my confidence as a human being, I now know my worth, and Hell hath no fury like a woman who finally realizes her worth. Right, mama?

I’ll see you again. Be prepared to let me “borrow” your shoes when I get there. Until then, there is much work to be done on earth. May all of my remaining days reflect the woman you allowed God to help you shape. I love you.

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