I walked in from high school and dropped off my books in my room. My mom called out to me and I found her in the laundry room folding clothes. If my memory serves me, she welcomed me with the usual hug and kiss on the cheek. She asked me about my day and what my plans were for the afternoon. I rattled off my plans to hang out with my friends and study for an upcoming test. She smiled her beautiful smile and asked me to please take out the trash before I left. Well, I was much too busy for such mundane tasks and in my best teenagery this-is-so-annoying voice, I told her, between deep breaths let slowly out, I was way too busy but I would. She continued smiling and in her loving, cheerful, consistent manner, she said, “Thank you.” I distinctly remember thinking to myself, as I began my route through the house to collect the trash, “She is always cheerful. I can not push her into a snarky reply. Wow. I am the worst.”
What a gift that was to me. She was always cheerful. To this day, she is kind, pleasant, and cheerful. Regardless of those around her who may not be.
She loves flowers. All kinds. Unless they cost a lot of money. In her yard are gorgeous azaleas, roses, irises and tulips.
But many of these came from friends and cuttings from other plants.
She can stretch a penny. My mom rarely got mad but wasting money could get a rise out of her. I remember one time when my mom, my older brother and I were walking to church and my brother, who was about 10 at the time, reached down to pick up a coin off the sidewalk. When he noticed it was only he penny, he tossed it back on the ground. My mom made him pick it back up and gave us both a good talking to all the way to church about the value of money. I kind of felt like we might could have skipped church that day since we had already listened to one sermon. But I wasn’t about to say anything.
She grew up in a tiny town in south Mississippi. Her dad was a rancher and her mom stayed home to raise four rambunctious boys and one girl.
My mom’s brothers have always accused her of being treated to special things growing up because she was the only girl. “After all,” they would say, “momma and daddy got you braces while the rest of us did without.” I loved to go to my grandparents’ house because the teasing never stopped.
She has several sayings that pop up occasionally like:
- Let the ragged end drag (like a toddler who can’t quite get all of his blanket in his arms, so he lets some of it drag; used when life gets a bit overwhelming) Click here for a post by this title.
- It won’t matter a hundred years from now (used often when I didn’t get the grade I wanted on a test)
- Wouldn’t that just freeze ya (when something shocking or ironic happens)
- Don’t borrow trouble, Missy. (Which I am prone to do)
- Just be yourself. (Here is a post about trying to just be myself…)
- You have to make hay while the sun is shining. (Take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself, because it may not be there tomorrow)
- Take care of yourself, Missy.
- You can’t do everything.
- You don’t have to tell everything you know, Missy.
- There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
I guess I could have put ‘Missy’ after every one of those.
She loves work. She works circles around me. She is busy at home and does not let her candle go out at night. Granted she has been known to sleep in at times, but she loves to work.
She also loves to read. I can remember seeing her reading with a dictionary next to her. If she didn’t know a word that she came across, she would stop and look it up. And then begin using it.
My dad loves to talk about my mom. He always says that he married up. I asked him to write down how they met and here is what he sent me.
I was a senior; she was a freshman. I had seen her before. Of course I had seen her before; and so had every other guy on campus; she was a Bison cheerleader. She was physically beautiful, but it didn’t stop there. There was something else about her. As a twenty-one year old, I am not sure that I was able to describe it, but I knew she had it. One day she was walking from over around the library toward Cathcarte Hall. I was standing in the student center (now the Ganus Building) looking out the big picture window, and I saw her walking across campus. This was the first time I remember really seeing her; I mean Really seeing her, and I thought, “If I could just get a date with her— Naw, there is no way she would go with me; she’s too pretty and too popular—Oh well, I think I’ll try anyway.” So I chose an angle and intercepted her before she reached her dorm. I was too nervous to ask her properly. All my macho stuff had just been a fake. I probably said something like, “You wouldn’t want to go somewhere with me Saturday night, would you?” When she asked, “Where?”, I couldn’t think of anywhere, so I chose the most romantic thing happening on campus Saturday night. “W-W-Well, we could go to the Bison track meet”. When she said OK, I was afraid that I had misunderstood. I walked on air until Saturday; I was so excited. As we were walking to the track meet, I did the gentlemanly thing and reached for her hand to help her cross that dangerous Park Avenue Street. She very gently and kindly let me know that she could cross Park Avenue on her own, thank you. Uh oh! My first big mistake. Now what? Well, we had a wonderful time getting to know each other. We spent a lot of time together the next several months. One semester she worked in the bookstore, and I developed a sudden interest in textbooks and religious literature; I must have gone in there every day. I still have books that I bought that semester that I haven’t read. One day we were having a serious conversation in a Harding Swing beside the Olin Hendrix Building, and when I realized that there might be a possibility for something permanent for us, I have not been the same since. We were married the next year. That was fifty-four years ago. Now there has been John Ed and Rebecca and Amy and Scott, and Ryan and Alex, and Barrett and Locke and Meredith. And now that I am seventy-seven, I think I can better describe what it is that she has: she has the sweetest personality, and she has a quick wit, and she smiles easily; and she is so positive; and she is so much fun to live with. But most of all, she has a very strong desire to please God, and that trumps everything else I didn’t know all these things at twenty-one. However, one thing that I recognized at twenty-one that is still true at seventy-seven: when we come to Harding for some event, she is still the prettiest girl on campus.
It’s almost Mother’s Day. The cards are on the grocery store shelves and the jewelry commercials have started on TV but that is really only a coincidence. I have been so blessed by my mother and wanted to honor her and hope that others will be blessed by my recounting some of the things about her that have touched me so deeply. There is so much more. I will save her business acumen, her Bible studies with people all over the globe , her teaching, her love of travel, hospitality and so much more for another time.
I’m honored that you stopped by my blog!
Have a great day!