On October 28, my Little Mama will be 95 years old.
Do you know her? Do you know her strength, her humor, her generosity, her incredible curiosity about life and people, history and government, civics? Do you know about her life spent so creatively, (one time when I was young they did a full two page color Sunday edition of the Charlotte Observer on her and the Christmas showroom people traveled hundreds of miles to come to)?
Would you know that at 19 she dropped out of college to join the Red Cross during WWII, had gas vouchers, drove anywhere in the country she was needed and that the only thing that kept her stationed on this side of the ocean was the letter from her much-beloved brother saying, "I'm here (in the thick of battle) please stay home to take care of Mom and Dad."
As long as I can remember, Mama worked, side by side with Pop, she was the buyer, had the eye, made things beautiful. Sundays after church they'd be at the store working getting ready for the six-day work week. But she never failed to plan special things and trips and picnics for us. When it snowed she was the one that would trek the neighborhood kids for miles while Pop stayed home and made the hot chocolate.
She was the best friend of many and held troves of secrets for everyone, sacred and quiet and to this day I know none of them. She walked all of her friends through the valley of the shadow of death and helped them stare straight into the face of it and held the hand of so many as they died.
She had best friends, but Margaret was the best of them all. When Margaret came to work in the store it was before the civil rights movement, she was the only one they ever trusted to run the store when they were gone and manage everything. I remember as does Mama, the mother of a schoolmate who came in and in the ugliest of language made the statement that she would not be coming back if that.... was going to be working there. Mama said, "Can I walk you to the door? You certainly don't need to come back."
The house was often filled with people and Mama was the queen of graciousness. The people were different walks of life and there were gay people (probably still in the closet) but Mama knew and appreciated them all (as did of course, Papa). All were welcome.
Mama has read more non-fiction than anyone I know in her life and powered it down as well in these last 10 years, she watched every single moment of every primary debate of each party and every single town hall and debate from that point forward. Don't talk to her about civics, government or history unless you know your shit and for God's sake, don't bring on the fake news. (You probably didn't want to be the person who said to her, "Give Trump a chance" she figured by that time everyone should have clearly seen the BIG writing on the wall.)
I should write stories about her, I really should. I didn't know another mother who thought the kids were sick of school and should be taken out for a day or two to go on a joy ride of adventure. She has been brave beyond belief, creative beyond measure, full of love and fierce independence.
Well, Mama, it's almost your birthday and on this day and tomorrow and on your birthday on Saturday and for every day after the world owes you a thank you for the walk of love, courage, perseverance, humility, kindness, wisdom and intellectual curiosity you have shown us.
Happy Birthday Little Mama.