I used to love playing with the skin on my Mamaw’s hands. She was probably in her 70’s and I was her unofficial charge. At meeting (church), I would sit with my arm hooked in the crook of her arm, and my head rested constantly on her shoulder. She (for some reason) let me pinch the skin on her hands and squish it back down. There wasn’t much she didn’t let me do if I sat quietly (including sleep…)
Today I sat on the couch with her. I held her hand, and gently rested my head on her shoulder. It’s bonier than it used to be. Her hands are cold, and I said, “Cold hands…” She continued, “Warm heart. Dirty feet...” I finished, “And no sweetheart!” She has these sayings. It makes me feel closer to her when I can repeat the words I’ve heard all my life. And somehow–it seems to bring her comfort too.
Just like the hymns. Today I sang my heart out. She drifted in and out of sleep. Occasionally she would comment, “Oh, that’s a pretty hymn.” “Where do you go to meeting?” “That’s just beautiful.” Understand that she wasn’t remarking kindly based on how well I carried that tune in my bucket–she just loves the hymns. All My Springs Arise in Jesus is one of her favorite, and we sing an old tune that isn’t that common. “All my springs arise in Jesus, he my in-most needs supplies. Satisfies my heart’s deep longings, quells the fears which oft arise…”
She asks often about her kids. She wants to know if they have been there–and when they’ll be returning. “You haven’t lived until you have children,” she would say when we were young. I reminded her of that today, and she said, “Well, they’re all you’ve got.” Maybe that is why I’ve always felt like life would truly begin when I had children.
She ate two bowls of ice cream today. My mom says when you make it that far, you get to eat whatever you want. I remember her sweet tooth when I would spend the night. She would often pull sherbert or ice cream out for a late treat.
“Lets go to bed,” said old Sleepy-head.” “Aw, let’s wait a while,” said old Slow. “Put on the pot,” said old Greedy-knot, “and we’ll eat a bite before we go.”
“My daddy used to say that,” she would finish. We would say our prayers (on our knees), and I would peek to see if she was finished. If not, I would think of more things/people to pray for. We would rise together, snuggle into bed together, and I would warm up her cold feet. “You’re like a heater,” she would always say. We would drift off to sleep peacefully.
Ninety-one today, and her life has been so full! She has five children. Eleven grandchildren. Sixteen great-grandchildren. Oh, she’s had heartbreak and disappointments. She has lost more than any one person should, and her natural body has weakened. But we can rest assured that she will dwell in the house of the Lord for the rest of her days. What more could we wish for someone we love?
Happy birthday, Mamaw!