Every Mother’s Day, I try so hard to think of something special to give to my sweet Mama. She is the master of thoughtfulness and generosity, and even though I’m going on 37, she still makes Christmas magical for me, and every other holiday is fun and warm and unique. So, it is important to me to try to give her just a taste of what she gives to my brother, sister, husband, son, daddy and me every time a holiday rolls around. But its haaaaard at times. She has everything she wants, so sit-arounds are not what I want to get her (though, I do sometimes. No woman doesn’t smile at a McCarty bag.) And even when the desire is there, many times I wait too late to try to develop and put together the perfect present, or my creative juices just refuse to flow and I can’t come up with a dang thing of remote uniqueness.
So for this Mother’s Day, it hit me, rather late in the game, that I get to be with both my Mama and the little boy who made me a mama today, but she doesn’t. She only gets one side of the Mother’s Day package, as her mama, my Nana, went to heaven in 1996. And that made me pretty sad. She is always happy and joyful on Mother’s day, but I know she has to be reminded of the fact that she’s mama-less, especially on a day set aside just to honor them. It got my wheels turning…
It would take me three blogs and a set of encyclopedias to tell you everything that was incredible about my grandmother, so I’m not going to go into detail. It would end up being trite and I’d have to use words like “amazing” every other sentence and she just deserves better. Besides, most everyone believes their own grandmother was the best, and I’m not gonna try to one-up you on that. We should all feel that way, as grandmothers have a way of loving their grandchildren special. So let’s just say, mine did the grandmother thing better than I deserved. She gave me lots of gifts when I was growing up, some I’ve kept, some I’ve lost, some I gave away just as soon as I got out of her door. But the best tangible gift she ever gave me were her letters.
I went to a college located only 2 hours away and only for 2 years, so I wasn’t far from her in proximity, but she still wrote me at least once a week while I was there. (I wasn’t the only person she did that for…I bet a slew of people still have just as many notes from her as I do, if they are hoarders, like I am.) And I don’t care what any college freshman says, there is nothing like opening your mailbox at the Union and having a letter inside. It may not be cool to admit it (when you are a college freshman), but it’s the truth. So a letter in my mailbox from her always made me feel like a little present had landed in my lap when I saw one inside box 5716. But the real joy came when I read her words, in that familiar scrawling handwriting, composed just for me. Rarely were they very deep, or very long, and almost every one involved the words “doctor” and “appointment.” But they all included little bits of her, so enjoy some excerpts:
“Keep well, lock your doors, wear your seat belt, don’t speed, and know that I love you, Nana.”
“I loved seeing you so much. I was needing to see you. You look great (except for the hair.)”
“I loved your letter. That stationary looked mighty fancy….Next summer, you are not going to summer school all summer. You grow up too fast and we miss you too much.”
“Jean and I shopped yesterday. I got new navy shoes, grey sweat pants, plaid pants and shirt, a dress for Mama and some mock turtle things to wear under sweat shirts.”
“Thursday morning I take Kate to get a one piece bathing suit. Pray for one.”
“Today I went to Nancy’s—she had given me a perm and lunch for Mother’s Day—I got it today. It looks good now—don’t know about tomorrow.”
“Your mother told me that you went to church Sunday. I wish you would make that your routine because it is something you can’t do without. Stay close to Jesus.”
“P.S. Hope the underwear fits.”
“This will be a very short note. John Sumrall is bringing 10 dozen ears of corn for me—so I’ll be busy.”
“I’m as late writing you as you are going back to school on Sundays—“
This was actually all she wrote in this particular card: “We’re freezing our tails off. You’re colder than us, aren’t you? Study hard—Love, N.”
“Don’t waste time nor yourself. You have so much. Today, I saw a picture of you when you were in a little choir. You were singing your heart out.”
“Last night we went to Picadilly and it rained terribly. Our lights were out at home from 5:30 till 7:30 and Mac nearly died because the Braves were playing.”
“Today is our 53rd anniversary and we will go to dinner tonight—nothing special—except its special to be alive.”
“I don’t believe that first Easter morning was any more beautiful than ours was, do you?”
“Are you out of money, stamps, note paper, etc? or what? I haven’t heard from you in ages—and I miss you.”
“Anna called last night to tell me that her daddy was home, but didn’t bring her a surprise. He was really tired—One day, they played 36 holes of golf—and I’ll bet Steve S. never shut his mouth.”
“Remember who you are and whose you are.”
“Wasn’t Seth adorable? And isn’t Jud McDonald precious? What a shame he’s your cousin.”
As I read, I could hear each sentence coming out of her mouth through the pages, that voice that I would still recognize anywhere, and it was as if I was having a conversation with her after all those years. It made me smile and it made me cry and it made me long for her and it made me thank God that He gave her to me. And it dawned on me that I had a chance to give my Mama back that other half of her Mother’s Day. So I copied as many letters as I could and put them in a binder and that was her present. Today, my Mama got to hear her Mother’s voice.
I’m sure next year I will be completely void of ideas and will give her another piece of pottery, but I was happy that, on this day, my mama and I got to spend some time with Nana. And I sent a smile and a “thanks” up to heaven, to honor the woman who gave my Mama to me.
As I was searching for my Nana today, I pulled a book off of the shelf that I gave her, coincidentally, on Mother’s day of 1996, the year she died. It was a compilation of Ann Landers’ articles. Inside I wrote to her, “Thought you might like this precious book of wisdom, “funnies,” and stores that make you cry. You and Ann have an awful lot in common. Thank you for all of your special words of advice—you never know—they may make a book one day! Enjoy!”
Well, Non, you haven’t made a book yet, but you’ve made a blog. There is still time.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you special women out there whose words of wisdom, whether oral or written, got the rest of us on our paths to be who we will be. To you, they may seem small. To us, they are everything.