A sunny spring afternoon in 1941, two young women, sisters and both expectant mothers, were shopping together for baby clothes in the Kress 5 &10 Cent Store. Kate, the younger sister, was due anytime in the next 10 days. Dot had just recently learned she was expecting in October. The sisters had lived and worked together until their marriages the year before. In 1939 their parents had passed away. Dot married Frank, a successful local farmer. Frank had hired a young man named Jim to work for him. The four met and my family legacy began. That very afternoon, Kate began to experience signs that she was going into labor. A cab was called by one of the store clerks, Dot called their husbands, and the two women headed to the hospital.
A long night of labor lay ahead for 25 year old Kate. By early dawn on April 13th, Easter Sunday morning, she held a little baby girl in her arms. My Dad wanted to name me Bunny. Mom said no! They decided to name me Barbara so they could give me the nickname of Bobbie. That was as close to Bunny as Dad could get. I loved hearing my mama, as I called her, tell family stories.
Mama passed away in 1994. I wish I had asked her to tell me more stories. I miss her…
May is my parents’ wedding anniversary month as well as Mother’s Day falls. Nostalgia is more prevalent in my life now than ever before. Memories are more precious. I remember Mama as a hard- working woman. She went to work in a thread-mill when I was six. She left the house before dawn, riding with a car pool across town to the mill, and was home by 4:30 to start dinner.
I would sit at the kitchen table doing homework and listening to Superman and the Lone Ranger on the radio. My two little brothers could be heard playing in the backyard and my teenage cousin Jane was playing records in her room. Mama and Daddy took her into our home before I was born. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes or country fried steak and green beans were a typical supper.
Mama washed clothes in a big galvanized tub on the back porch on Saturdays, using a washboard. Jane and I would hang them on a line with clothes pins and made sure to get them off the line before dark or in case of rain.
Mama also dealt with my Dad’s increasing alcoholism over the years.
She raised four children and, made sure we were clothed, fed, loved and taken care of all while working, keeping house and dealing with a difficult marriage.
I appreciate her now in a way I could have never understood so many years ago.
She also made sure we had clean Sunday clothes and that we were in Sunday School, Bible School and every activity the First Baptist Church of Albany, Georgia had available for children.
My foundation, so much of whom I am today, I owe to Mama. Much of what I saw in her taught me more than words ever could. She was not a complainer. She worked hard for as long as she was able. After she retired she worked in the church nursery. She lived with us for a few years before she went into a nursing home.
My fondest memory is sitting by her bed as she read her nightly devotions.
One thing I must say. Mama and I got along well…most of the time. She did like to give me advice and I didn’t always like that.
Then there came the time that we could no longer care for her at home and Mama went, not too happily, to live in a nursing home. Sometimes I feel a sadness when I remember some of our disagreements. So much so that I talked to my pastor about it not too long ago. He spoke wisdom to me when he asked, “How do you think your Mom feels about that now?” I just stared at him for a few minutes, then started to cry. “My Mama doesn’t concern herself with those things now…she is with Jesus.” “Exactly,” he smiled at me.
I know we all sometimes have regrets about the past. I also know that my Mama loved me more than life, as I love my own children and family. She would hug me now if she were here and tell me to “buck up, buttercup.” There would be no unforgiveness from her. Just as my Jesus has forgiven me, I am free from guilt.
Still, it is a reminder to me to be about His purpose for my life. To love with His love, to serve others as He would have me do.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home,” (John 19:25-27).
Perhaps you didn’t have a perfect relationship with a parent or family member who has passed on. Take it to Jesus, dear friend. He heals and restores our lives, our hearts, and yes, our regrets. This Mother’s Day, I honor my mother and give thanks for having had her in my life.