She was her own boss
Leave it to grief.
Well that and an aptly timed phone call to change things around.
I have been experiencing a bit of a writer’s block. Wait, that isn’t exactly right either. I have been doing plenty of writing, just not the kind that appears here. I began taking courses this summer in pursuit of my dream to earn a doctorate in education. So I’ve been writing oodles of papers, video critiques, and discussion posts as a graduate student. Back to campus happened and between lesson plans, emails to my students, and grading assignments, I have been doing plenty of writing as a teacher too. Then there is that wonderfully amazing thing known as my book (to be released in November) for which I have been doing all kinds of behind the scenes writing with marketing and publicist teams. As excited as I am about my first book, this kind of writing is not fun.
So instead of writer’s block, I guess I have been experiencing blogger’s block.
But leave it to grief and a phone call last night from the dearest of friends to bring me back to the place where I have laid bare my heart. Journaling on Caringbridge is where this crazy journey to become a writer started, and it was grief (that wretched beast) that taught me my hurts and my ability to share them bring comforts to others.
So am I back and I thank you for your patience.
My corner of the world grew a bit dimmer this weekend as my grandmother, Mama, passed away peacefully in her sleep in her own home. She was one of the lights of my world and she was the last of my grandparents still alive. Trust me, I don’t for one minute forget how blessed I am to be into my forties and still have my grandmothers. My Nannie passed away four years ago and there isn’t a day that I don’t miss her either.
My friend, Karla, called last night just to check on me. God bless her because she listened to me cry and laugh and cry while laughing for more than an hour. She is a true second mile friend, the kind that just keeps on walking when everyone else dropped off at the first mile marker. I am blessed to have several.
At some point in the conversation, she asked me to remind her how old my Mama (which is pronounced maw-maw) lived to be. When I said, “ninety-two”, her immediate response was “Wow! And she lived at home essentially on her own all that time.” That was just the way it was so this didn’t seem all that odd to me. But what my sweet friend said next is where I started to see the light breaking through my heavy grief fog.
Kan, how many 92 year olds do you know who lived that successfully on their own? You know, your Mama really got to live as her own boss.
I am sure she knew she had “released the Kraken” because after that statement I burst into laughter. Having lived through many grief trials of her own, she had to know it was either a weirdly placed grief reaction or a true Southern story coming on.
Thankfully for me it was the latter.
I asked her if I had ever told her the “boss” story. Even if I had, she let me retell it to her again.
My Mama Cloie loved gospel music. By loved, I mean LOVED gospel music. She and her friends and family would travel to gospel singings every chance they got. Her all-time favorite was the “Dixie Echoes”, but with her Alabama twang it always sounded like the “Dixie Eckels” to my ears. My mom always says my dad had a few of those language nuances when they met too. The apple doesn’t fall far in Alabama.
Well a few years back, Mama, some of her cousins, and my Aunt Charlotte (my Daddy’s sister and Mama’s daughter) started attending the Gatlinburg Gathering for a weekend of gospel music and good ol’ fashioned preaching. One of the cousins, who are closer in age to my Daddy, had a time share up in the mountains and this flock of Cunningham girls would travel to Tennessee for their annual get-away.
In between singings, they would sometimes hit the shops in the mountain town. On one trip, Mama had enough of shopping and told the younger ones to go on ahead; she would just rest on the benches outside the stores on the main street. Every time, the shoppers would come out the stores, there she would be . . . sitting with another little old man. As they moved down the strip, the scene replayed itself over and over. Mama would be on a bench with a different little old man who had grown tired of shopping with his wife.
As the day went on, the cousins and Aunt Charlotte took to teasing her about how “they brought her all the way all to Tennessee for gospel singing and she was more interested in finding a boyfriend.” True to our family’s style of teasing, the picking continued well up into the evening. At some point, my Mama became like Popeye and she took all she could stands until she could stands it no more.
She let them all know what she thought of their boyfriend accusations.
Let me tell y’all something. My Momma and Daddy bossed me for eighteen years. Then Reed bossed for more than 60 years. If it is all just the same to you, I’m going to be the boss of Cloie for now.
Stealing a line from a Reba (who Mama adored too), and I guess she did!
I sincerely wish it wasn’t grief that brought me back here to the place of my roots. (Okay my writing roots because only my hairdresser knows exactly what color my other roots truly are.) But I promise you that if this story about my grandmother touches you there are plenty more in my heart and definitely some about her and all my crazy people in my book. And yes, grief gets a mention there too.
So for now I will be writing love notes to her in my prayers while my heart works to live without my “bossy” Mama.