A lot of people dread the holidays, because you are supposed to gather with family and not all families are warm and close. Mine is. I have always loved spending Thanksgiving surrounded by noise, love, and laughter. And then some more noise. This year, we were unable to travel to visit family for the holiday and celebrated at home, just the four of us. It was sort of awful, but not for the reasons I had anticipated. My Mamaw had a heart attack on Wednesday night. The outlook was not good. We spent the next two days waiting for news. I begged for a miracle. God healed her, but not in the way I was asking for. I would have chosen to see my Mamaw again, but He took her home last night.
I could write and write and write about all the wonderful memories I have of my Mamaw. She was a lot of fun. I cannot help but think that as we cope with shock and loss, she is probably laughing at us. While I mourn the earthly loss of my beloved grandmother, I am certain that she is singing gospel songs and dancing for Jesus. With the bass turned up. She is finally experiencing true joy.
Why did I love my Mamaw so much? Because she did things like reenact her favorite scene from South Pacific on the beach in Hawaii – on video. She played her records loud. When I was in college, she’d come stay in her cabin in the mountains nearby and feed me. She gave me her gold hoop earrings just because I complemented them once. Her home was always warm and welcoming, and there was always a party to celebrate every birthday, holiday, and obscure occasion in between. She and Papaw took almost all of our families in during times of need and let us live in the basement. (John and I lived there between our wedding and his first assignment.) I loved Mamaw so much, because she loved and gave so much.
I am trying REALLY hard to focus on good memories to keep from being overwhelmed by sadness. I’ll leave you with a story that actually got me laughing when I remembered it last night. Five years ago, we all spent Thanksgiving together in Mississippi. There is an old plantation home, owned by my father’s side of the family, where we were staying. It is rumored to be haunted. Each night, someone in the family would claim to have heard strange noises. I spent the better part of the weekend thinking it was a big conspiracy theory, that they were making up ghost stories just to scare everyone else. I especially had a hard time believing the ghost hype, because Neely was only a few months old at the time. I was up several times a night each night feeding her, and I’d heard nothing. The last night before we returned home, as I was returning to bed after feeding the baby, I heard it. A voice. Something that sounded like chains. I (bravely?) sneaked out of my room and happened to meet up with my dad and aunt on the landing. We followed the noise downstairs, and……..found Mamaw roaming the living room in her nightgown, moaning, dragging a length of chain behind her, and wearing underpants on her head. It was the best prank ever. I got pretty tickled last night wondering if I might be awakened by the sound of chains on the stairs, kind of as a last hurrah.
I love you, Mamaw. I know you’re taking heaven by storm and keeping ’em laughing. I just know it.