Five weeks before my mother and daddy were supposed to get married, my grandfather came home for lunch, and laid down to take a nap. When she went in to wake him up, she discovered that he had passed away--at the age of 51. Somehow, she and Momma got through the wedding (they didn't change the date--just scaled down the reception). I can't imagine how she did it--or how Momma did it, but they did, because that's the type of women they are.
Five years later, Ma-Ma moved to Greencastle to help Momma, who by this time, had a four-year-old and a two-year-old and number three on the way. Personally, I think it was her best move ever, but she never did care for the north or being cold, or the snow. She never did really forgive my momma for moving her up here.
She loved us dearly, though. The first year she lived in Greencastle, my older brother contracted rheumatic fever and my younger brother was born. While Steve was confined to bed for six months, and my mother's hands were a bit full, Ma-Ma would take me to her house and we would cook. So, from the time I was about two, she would put an apron on me, pull up a step-stool, put me on the stool, and let me "cook". My job was to stir whatever she was making. She always told me I did a wonderful job and that her food tasted better because I helped. When I was five, the two of us spent the month of November in Mississippi with my great-grandfather, and she taught me how to do embroidery and then sewing. I spent the month making a Christmas gift for Momma. She always had so much patience with me, but made sure that I did my best. How I miss being able to call her and ask her questions about cooking or sewing. She would have loved seeing my quilts and all of the madrigal dresses I made last year. And the music! At one point or another, through the years, she taught all three of us piano (although we had other teachers, too). She encouraged us in whatever instrument we wanted, and patiently drove Michael and me to lessons over in Terre Haute every week. I can still see her little foot keeping beat to the music on television shows. I don't think she was even aware that she did it! Once PBS came around with the classical music shows, her life was complete. I remember going into her house one Sunday, and the PBS special was Vladimir Horowitz playing for the first time in many, many years in his home country of Russia. Tears were flowing down her face as she watched this incredible musician play some of her favorite numbers.
Lessons learned from my Ma-Ma: Love your family with all that you have. Stand up for what you believe. Keep learning until you draw your last breath. Do what you love to do, and do your very best in all that you do, and you are capable of more than you think.
There's a part of Ma-Ma in all of us. While I love that she stood up for what she believed, there were many times that she could have been a little more--well, understanding. She did have a temper and if she didn't want to do something, she wouldn't do it! If she got really mad at you (especially if you messed with one of us), you were done for. So, I'm still learning that while standing up for what you believe is a good thing, you can still be loving in your convictions. I'm still working on that. Obviously, I never knew my grandfather, but Momma always said that he was the only person she knew that could really handle my grandmother. :) I know that the two of them loved Momma dearly, and Momma in turned passed on the love to the three of us, and my job as a mother is to pass the unconditional love on to Stephie. If I am half the mother that either my grandmother or mother have been, I feel I will have done pretty good.
Ma-Ma, I miss you, but I see parts of your legacy in all of my family, and for that, I'm thankful.