Smart Girls Read Romance





Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.






Monday, August 20, 2018

Remembering Mama by Laurean Brooks

Mama, as I sit near your bed studying your gnarled fingers, the fingers which pulled a trigger on the shotgun to scare off critters. Those same fingers made dresses for my sisters and me on the treadle sewing machine. You didn't want an electric one. Daddy bought you a nice one, but you would not use it.

Watching your chest rise and fall, I can't help thinking of the changes you've seen in your ninety-seven and one-half years. Your soft gray hair brushed back from your pale creased face, gives you a commanding air. The light from your blue eyes is slowly fading. As I listen to your soft breaths, my mind sweeps back through the years to your childhood and the stories you so eloquently told.

Born in December of 1920, you were no stranger to hard work. As the eldest daughter on a farm, you were given a double load of responsibility. You worked in the cotton fields in  Hickory Valley, a rural community not far from Memphis. You planted, hoed and picked cotton, even as a small child.

Your early life was not easy. You endured an abusive father who freely swung his razor strap or a thorny switch when his temper was riled. He deserted your family when you were nine, and died a few years before I was born. But you told us he was an angry man who slapped your mother around at the least provocation. It's no wonder you had trouble trusting men.

You had few comforts, rode in a wagon pulled by mules. But mostly you walked wherever you needed to go. I'm sure the three-mile walk to school and to the Hickory Valley grocery store were not easy ones, especially when the weather was disagreeable. Bread was 10 cents a loaf then, and your mother stitched dresses for you and your sisters from the cloth sacks that contained 25 lbs of flour.


At age seventeen, during the Great Depression, you took the train to Chicago to find work to support your mother and three younger sisters. It was during this three-year stay with Aunt Willie that you were introduced to the young interim pastor of Western Springs Baptist Church. He was none other than Billy Graham, and he was single. You always blushed when I teased you that Billy Graham might have been our father if you had only batted your eyelashes at him. But you were not the flirting kind.


Mama, you often seemed unapproachable. Maybe it was because you needed to be tough to stay in control. You rarely showed affection, neither did you accept it. But after Daddy passed I started embracing you. At first, you went stiff, but as time passed, you accepted my embraces, even patted my shoulder while I hugged you. 

I don't think I ever saw you cry while I was growing up.  We did not understand why you often pulled into a shell, withdrawing from us. We knew you loved us. You just didn't know how to show it. Whether you showed it or not, your sacrifices spoke volumes. And when one of us got sick, your nurturing side emerged. You looked in on us every few minutes, touched our feverish faces as we lay in bed with the mumps or measles.

We saw your fingers, cracked and bleeding from hanging clothes on the line in the dead of winter. My sister and I helped with the wash, but you went the extra mile, heating tubs of water on the range and emptying them into the wringer washer and into the large rinse tub. I will never forget the stinging scent of bleach on wash day.

Daddy's job on the riverboat required him to be away a month at a time. During those times, you took charge of your rowdy bunch. Mama, you would have made a great drill sergeant. No one dared disobey you. If they did and got caught, there was the "devil to pay."

You rose at the crack of dawn on frigid mornings to build a fire in the wood stove. Your hearty breakfasts consisted of a full 8'' x 11'' pan, plus an iron skillet with golden-brown biscuits, a large bowl of milk gravy, and scrambled eggs straight from our free-range hens. Some mornings, you made chocolate gravy to scoop over our biscuits. And, was it yummy! On Saturdays, we had pancakes smothered in sorghum molasses. Everything was served with tall glasses of delicious cocoa, made from cocoa powder.



We sometimes whined about hoeing in the gardens and the cornfields, about cutting and packing firewood, feeding the livestock. But like a drill sergeant, you never wavered after you gave us our orders. And you saw right through us when we feigned an illness at the mention of work.

On Sunday mornings, you made sure we went to Sunday School and church. No excuse would do. After a morning of your bustling about, we kids climbed into the station wagon and waited for you. Because you had spent the morning searching for our lost shoes, mates to socks, or cleaning up the kitchen, you had to rush to get ready. 

We were always late for church. It embarrassed us when the congregation turned to stare as we marched inside and took a pew near the back. Years later, I realized that you sacrificed your time to ensure each of us had what we needed. By putting us first, you had to rush to finish dressing. 


I remember the frosty March morning when I started to leave for school, and the others already had. You staggered through the back door, blood running down one leg. You had slipped and fallen on a stob while feeding the chickens. It made a deep gash in your leg. You pressed a clean rag to the wound, then dropped down on the couch, moaning. Daddy set his coffee cup down and tied a thick towel around your leg to slow the bleeding. Then you passed out and I started crying.

You had always been so strong. I thought nothing could hurt you. Seeing you lying there pale and helpless, I feared the worst. But Daddy waved me away. “Go on to school, honey. Your mama will be okay. I'll get her to the doctor.”

Daddy scooped you up in his huge arms and carried you out to the car. I opened the car door so he could settle you inside. Then I made my way to school. But I couldn't concentrate on my lessons for worrying about you. What relief to find you bustling about the kitchen when I got home! As if nothing had happened.




Decades passed, Mama. Most of us kids moved out and/or got married and had kids of our own. We lost Daddy in the summer of 1980, and eldest brother Johnny in 2007. You grew more independent on your own, never wanting to be a burden to anyone. You even mowed your own yard until you were past 91. 

Your heart softened with age, Mama. You became my best friend and confidante. You were still strong, both emotionally and physically. Even your arthritic joints didn't hold you back. But looking at your fragile body now, weak and wracked with pain, I hardly recognize you. I sense life ebbing from you with each breath. It's hard to believe this frail frame once seemed so invincible and intimidating. 

Mama, you have fought the good fight and soon God will send His angels to whisk you away. I sit here beside your bed fighting an emotional battle. It will be a struggle to release you--if I even can. I cannot imagine life without you. I ache at the thought of you not being here to offer me sound advice, or to just listen to me ramble. The only comfort I derive from these, your final days, is knowing you will soon be young and vibrant again, free from a pain-wracked, exhausted body, and that you will be reunited in heaven with your family members and loved ones gone before, including Daddy and Johnny.

Each day brings us closer to your departure, but Mama, I can't bring myself to say goodbye. Instead, I want you to know how much I love you, how, I will miss you, and how much you will always be a part of me. 

Will you do me a favor? Mama, save a place at the banquet table for me. And maybe the Lord will let you bake up another batch of your famous cat's head biscuits for the feast. I can already taste them, buttered and melting in my mouth. Until then, Pass the sorghum, please.

                            ***************************

Today, I would like to post the link to the book I wrote as a tribute to Mama.  Journey To Forgiveness is loosely based on her life. The joys and the struggles. It's a tender, humorous romance. I hope you will enjoy it.

https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Forgiveness-Laurean-Brooks-ebook/dp/B01FEDR8O8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1534561525&sr=1-1&keywords=Journey+To+Forgiveness+by+Laurean+Brooks




28 comments:

  1. Beautiful post; beautiful Mother and daughter. I know it will be hard to let go, but as someone whose Mom is gone, I can tell you this. She will come to you when you need her most, and least expect it. It might be something a simple as a bird that settles next to you on the porch as if that is exactly where it belongs; or the aroma from a jar of preserves you've just opened, or the solace you will find when you treat yourself to a biscuit smothered in real butter and sorghum. Old pictures will bring back sweet memories, and a familiar hymn will lift you up with the promise she is waiting for you with open arms. Life ends, but love endures. You will remain as a testament to who she is and was, and to how much you loved and appreciated her. God Bless you both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your beautiful poetic words, Kit Prate. I will keep telling myself Mama will soon no longer be in pain. I really miss Mama's homemade biscuits with lard as the main ingredient besides Martha White flour.

      Delete
  2. This is a beautiful tribute that really touched my heart. Thank you for sharing your remarkable mother with us. ❤

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by, Amy. Yes, my mother was a remarkable woman.

      Delete
  3. Laurie, that was beautifully written. I think you encapsulated your dear mother perfectly. I lost my mother in 2012, and it still hurts when I think of her. Praying for you, dear friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Renee, I know the hurt will return again and again. when Mama makes her transit. Even 38 years after Daddy's death, I still miss him.

      Delete
  4. So sweet, Laurean! Absolutely lovely. It brought tears to my eyes and memories of sitting with my own mom in similar circumstances, but how different she was from your mom! Thank you for sharing this and letting us all get this glimpse of your family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, I guess there are as many types of mother as there are personalities. Mine was not your cookie cutter mom, for sure. She was as tough as nails. But beneath the surface she had a tender heart. She once said, "I might get onto my own younguns when they misbehave, but I'm not lettin' anybody do it."

      Delete
  5. Beautiful tribute. I'm sorry I can't write more as this makes me relive the passing of my own parents.

    I do know what you're going through.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Miss Mae, I do understand. Sometimes the words make us relive and hurt all over again.

      Delete
  6. I loved reading your post, Laurean. So touching. I lost both my parents quickly, thirty years apart. I honestly don't know which way is tougher, mine or yours, for no matter how we lose them, they're still gone. Bless you, God will give you the strength you need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carra, Copelin, I still hurt over losing my dad 38 years ago. And Friday would be his birthday. He would have been 100. So, I do know what you mean.

      Delete
  7. Laurie, reading this beautiful, touching tribute to your mom hurt my throat as I couldn't help but think of my mom,who would have been 97 as well. She had a hard life, too, but was strong, just like your mom. I wrote a poem that I finished at the computer at the nursing home and I console myself that although I wasn't right at her side in the moment she went to her Lord, I was writing and thinking about her, just like you have with this beautiful tribute. My mom has been gone almost thirteen years, but I relived so many memories as I read you story. Your mom is so blessed to have such a dear and loving daughter. Take comfort in the memories and that you've always been loved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, thank you for reminding me that I'll always have the memories, and that she will be with the Lord and in peace.

      Delete
  8. Laurean, this was a beautiful tribute to your mother. You reminded me of my own mother who had a hard life until she married my dad and then a hard life again after he lost his eyesight when I was in high school. My mom was 94 when she died and went quickly. That was in 2007 but I still miss her every day. I know that she is happy now and with my dad. I have to admit I needed several tissues to read your post. Bless you, Laurean, but remember that you will always have your mother in your heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caroline, Thank you for reminding me that Mama will always be in my heart. It brings me comfort to hear that. Sorry you used so many tissues.

      Delete
  9. Beautiful tribute. Reminded me of my own mom's passing. Sitting by her bedside in the hospital and knowing it was coming to an end still makes me cry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joan Reeves, it's difficult to put the feelings in words, so I tried to portray them with memories. I'm sorry for your loss. I always thought my mother had an immortal body. She was tough...strong...unrelenting. Nothing kept her down. It's hard to see her like this.

      Delete
  10. How awesome!!! Journey to Forgiveness is my favorite of your books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there, "Unknown." thank you for the compliment. Now I'm curious to your identity. How many of my books have you read?

      Delete
  11. Heartwarming tribute to your mother. We will always miss them. We will always stop when a great event happens in our lives and we think, "I wish I could tell my mother." Take care. Be well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy Ann Davis, I can see myself doing that. I hope I will be able to feel her presence around me, at least until I'm able to fully let her go.

      Delete
  12. Yes, it will be tough to let a parent go. My mom has been gone for thirteen years and Dad for 42 years. You will cherish memories from now on. Your tribute brought back many memories of my childhood and beyond. You have cherished your mother, I can tell from your writings. Many times I regret not paying attention to my mom as much as I should and I was an only child. She pulled out all the stops to care for me. I have so many photos as Mom was always taking them. I hope you have the same as that adds to the wonderful memories of past times.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Larry, I hope we have enough pictures. Mama didn't really like having her picture taken, but with seven children, we were able to take surprise shots. My Dad has been gone 38 years. He didn't even draw his first SS check. He would be 100 years old this Friday, if he were alive. Thank you for leaving a comment, as always.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Laurie - A touching tribute from the heart. You captured it all with warmth. She will be remembered lovingly by us all. Your words bring back many memories as I try to hold back the tears. I will continue to keep all of you in my prayers, and I am so very glad I got to see her again and that she knew me. And she knows how much you love her. Stay strong dear girl.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you, Cuz. I know you loved her too. I type this through tears because Mama passed exactly a week ago today. But you know that. You were there for me through it all. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Laurean, what a sweet tribute to your mother who has now passed on. I know you miss her earthly presence but she is with you in your heart now always. My mother has been gone since 2003 but I feel her presence every day and appreciate her even more since she left this life than ever before. And as I grow older, I understand her more clearly than when I was young. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for commenting, Linda. Isn't it strange how we feel they will be with us forever? A part of me thought Mama was immortal. That she would always be here. She was so strong emotionally and very determined to be independent. Well, she is immortal, just not physically with us any more. I miss her so much.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting on Smart Girls Read Romance. We love readers and love their comments. We apologize that due to a few unethical spammers we've had to institute comment moderation. Please be patient with us... we DO want your genuine comments!