It’s strange to me that I have grandchildren who never knew my mother, especially knowing how much she would have loved them.
When my children and I get together, inevitably the conversation turns to “Nanny,” and one right after the other jumps into the conversation with his or her own “Nanny” story.
I hope my grandchildren are listening and keep Mama’s memories alive.
And any time my family members and I talk about food, which is quite often, it’s only a matter of time until the conversation turns to Mama.
She was a wonderful country cook, and even more, she was a wonderful gardener.
Most of the items on her table each meal, with the exception of the meat, came from seeds and plants she sowed with her own hands and nourished to life to feed her family.
If she had been allowed to have a cow or hog in the city limits, we would probably have had a cowshed or chicken coop in the backyard.
Even after she began a career in sales, she would still head for the garden when she came home.
My sons got into a lot of trouble because of that garden. Woe to the boy that dared step on an onion or ride a bike too close to the tomatoes.
My son Greg discovered what wrath is when he bought a small bow and arrow at a shop on the Cherokee Reservation.
He was delighted to see that big plump cabbages made excellent targets for his little arrows, but Mama didn’t see it that way.
Greg never asked for another bow and arrow.
Mama could give a tongue lashing and a hickory switch whupping with the best, but you always knew she loved you with all her heart, even if it might take a while to realize it.
She was mountain born and bred, the youngest of four girls and two brothers.
The family lived on a farm with no electricity, no running water (but the clearest, freshest spring in the world) and an outhouse for a toilet.
Her father worked building railroads in Kentucky for long periods of time. That left it up to Grandma and the kids to tend the crops, cut the wood and tend the cows and the one mule they owned.
It was a tough life, but although the kids worked hard, they played just as hard. I can imagine my mom playing in the creek and riding a horse when she was so small she couldn’t dismount but had to fall from it.
I wish I could once again hear her stories of growing up on the farm.
I have photos of her when she and Daddy were courting.
No longer the tomboy, she was dressed in a filmy white dress and a wide straw hat adorned with flowers.
She looked like a movie star.
Her hair was dark brown and curly and she had a slight overbite, just like the beautiful Gene Tierney. Anyone remember “Leave Her to Heaven” or “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir?” That was how my young mama looked.
When she was in her 80s, she had snow white curly hair and she was still beautiful.
I expected her to live into her 90s, as longevity was prevalent in her family, but Alzheimer’s disease took its toll on her and she died at 84.
She had the love of a good man until the day she died, and a family who will always remember her and always have a good story to tell.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.