The emptiness of Mama’s place

Published 12:50 am Saturday, January 16, 2021

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Funny thing about holidays.

They’re times of celebrations and family gatherings and frolics with friends.

But it’s not the holidays that are so deeply noted in our hearts. No. It’s those days on the calendar that mark the loss of a loved one.

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Mama died on January 14, 1995. She would have been 76 years old the next day. So, those two days, January 14 and 15, are days that are most prominent on my calendar and most noted in my heart.

There’s always a bitter sweetness to those days. Memories of Mama bring sweetness to the days. The loss of her cloaks them in soft sadness.

Whoever said that time heals all things had evidently not lost their mama.

Mama died at a comfortable time of her life. She was working at an antique shop a few days a week and enjoyed getting to talk with the people who came in. She was playing a little golf and watching her “soaps” and Wheel of Fortune. She worked crossword puzzles and the daily crypto quote.  She spent time talking on the telephone and sitting around with Grace and Noah at Black’s Grocery. She like picking up pecans and cooking for all of us. Just the simple things of life. To me, that’s a gift … to enjoy the simple things of life.

Mama said she started praying when she got up in the morning and didn’t stop until she went to sleep at night. She would laugh and say that she worried God about things that worried her. Daddy always said, if Mama didn’t have anything to worry about, she would go next door and borrow something, so that was the reason that she was on the prayer line all the time.

Mama enjoyed life. She laughed a lot and she made us laugh. She had an interesting observation for everything. I can only image what she would have to say about today’s world.

I smile at most all memories of Mama. But then there are times when the loss of her is overwhelming. When I drive up to her house and think I see her at the kitchen window, tears fill my eyes. When I look across the church and don’t see her sitting in her pew and, when I hear the whistle of a teakettle, it’s a little more than I can stand.

I got up sad on Thursday morning and stayed that way. Sad, because I missed her so much and lonely because she was not here.

On Mama’s birthday, I was reminded of a passage in the book, “My Old True Love.” When Arty’s husband Zeke put down the plow and walked away, leaving her to go fight in the Civil War, she said, “There’s never been a place as empty as the one he stepped out of.”

I know that kind of emptiness because there’s never been a place as empty as the one that Mama stepped out of.