My roots burrow deep into rusty, packed-tight Georgia clay.
Daddy might’ve been born tasting a silver spoon but Mama worked, and worked hard, for everything she had. I remember a literal pot to pee in when we visited Papa, her father; but when I think on that a little more it was a white enamel bowl, and if memory serves properly, edged in worn out blue.
I hated it and held it as long as I could when we were there. The tinny taste of water drawn from a bottomless well made up for it, but only a little. If I drank too much I’d have to use the bowl.
Mama wanted to escape those dusty dirt roads so she moved to the city and sold costume jewelry at Davison’s. One day Macy’s would gobble it up.
It was over a retail counter Daddy met her, and theirs was a courtship that lasted a little while before they married in Las Vegas. She wore a sleek suit and no one was there to walk her down the aisle, or at least I can’t imagine there was.
That’s the kind of question a girl would ask her mother when she was a little older if she had the chance; but death would separate us before I did.
I never thought to ask my father.
Mama slipped from this life into the next when I was nine, a courageous warrior in a battle that would ravage her body part by part before taking her for good.
I hate cancer because it’s so mean to little girls and boys…
…and husbands and wives and mamas and daddies and even friends who don’t share blood but might as well.
Memories of Mama are so few I hold them with white-knuckles. I’m scared one by one they’ll slip through my mind’s sieve until what’s left of her is a whisper, a whimper, a shadowy specter…all of ’em together are hardly enough but when they’re all you’ve got, they’ll have to do.
Sometimes I wonder if I parent anything like her.
There’s this thing she used to say that has been a freckle on my ear for as long as I can remember. When my children were old enough and the situation called for it, I’d want with all my heart to say exactly what she said to us over and over and over again.
Probably what she said when her bones were screaming angry and she was lonely and tired and afraid.
~ And to find out what she said to us please, please continue reading one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written, featured on Deeper Story (Family) today. ~