Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What a Lady

A year ago I had just returned from a trip to Arkansas, where I was so fortunate to be able to spend some time with my great grandmother, my Mamaw B. My dad had forewarned me that she may not recognize me, but when I got to 36th Street, it was as if nothing was wrong at all -- family in and out of the kitchen, on and off the porch, and back and forth between boisterous and thoughtful. At one point Mamaw got tired and said she was ready for a nap but told us to not let her departure keep us from visiting. I helped walk her into the bedroom where she took my face in her hands and said, "I pray for you and your happiness every day. I just want you to know that." These are words that I have cherished for the past year more than you can fathom.

(Remember when I was blonde??)

There was a moment at her funeral that hit me hard. She never really traveled, she was never loaded with money, she was never defined by her career, she only loved one man, but her legacy was extraordinary. The overflowing room where her life was celebrated, filled with flowers and laughter and friends, was beautiful. And I wondered, will I have that? Am I on a track to touch that many lives for the good? Is my playful life really making a difference? Or am I just flitting about from moment to moment as life hits me? And I realized that’s what she meant… “I pray for your happiness every day.” An unsettled life can be loads of fun, but it’s not truly and deeply happy.

Her presence in my life, even from 1200 miles away, through the hustle and bustle of NYC is profoundly missed. It's funny. After I returned from her funeral (which was a trip I debated whether to make and am so glad I did... those few days were some of my best memories), I kept thinking about just how lucky I am to have had such a force to follow. I'll never be a mother to 4, grandmother to 16, great grandmother to 32, or great-great grandmother to 26. I’ll never be a pillar in a small community. I'll never be able to say I lived in the same house for 73 years. I'll never sit on my porch swing while telling my granddaughter from NYC that I've figured out the drug-dealers’ signs across the street (plant on the porch = open for business; no plant = keep driving). I can, however, show care for my family and friends the way she did. I can strive to make the world a better place and hope to succeed if only a fraction of the way she did. I can stand up for what I believe in while never making people with differing opinions feel bad or stupid or less. I can sing at a moment's notice just because the mood strikes me. I can make peanut butter cookies. I can wear fun hats and endless smiles. I can love.

One year ago the world lost the best person I ever knew, but we’re somehow still celebrating her life. I went on Facebook this morning, and was taken aback at just how many people had written about their love for this woman, funny stories about her, and just how much they miss having her in their lives day-to-day. What a life! What a lady…

(One of my favorite places with one of my favorite people)

**Click here for a copy of her obituary.  And here for my thoughts last year.**

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