Sunday, May 12, 2013

What She Chose

The last Mothers' Day I had my Mama I wrote a blog post about what she had taught me. If you are so inclined, you can click here to read that.

I took a long walk this morning and I wore her sun visor. In the interest of truthfulness, I did not wear it for any sentimental reason -- I just could not find mine anywhere. Because I was wearing her sun visor, though, and because it is Mothers' Day, I thought about her a whole lot over the course of the nearly 7 miles I walked.

That  picture in the top left corner was taken at a family wedding reception in Atlanta a few years ago. I had driven Mama and Daddy over for it, and it was a very nice day. Mama's hips were giving her fits back then, and walking was painful and even more so after sitting in a car for a few hours, but by Gum, she was going to that wedding. She never let me forget that I was stopped by a State Trooper on our way home, either, for failure to signal a lane change. Of course, she also talked him out of giving me a ticket, and as we were pulling back on to the interstate she launched into a story about the speeding tickets she got when she was younger, and every one of the stories made her laugh.

The one in the top right hand corner was from the days when she was a terror on the tennis courts at Montgomery Country Club. She excelled at singles. She was a favorite doubles partner. She was very good. She wanted me to learn, but athletic endeavors were not my thing. I also considered myself Too Cool for the Club. I am sorry now that I never learned, because I know how much she would have enjoyed wiping the tennis courts with me.

The picture in the bottom right corner captures her so perfectly as Granny, which was her favorite role of all. That's my nephew she's smiling at. The one with the bottle. The other critter was her much-beloved Prissy. The look on her face is so stunning I hardly noticed that she was sporting her curlers.

The one on the bottom left hand corner is The Look. If you were raised by her, you know what it is you might have said or done that elicited it. We also saw it a lot if she was trying to tell a story that we were interrupting for some reason. She took her storytelling very seriously. I'd pay a handsome reward to know who is responsible for this moment being captured. It was not me. I am sure of that.

And that one in the middle puts her in what she always said was her least favorite place to be -- in the kitchen -- but was also the place where most of our memories take us when we think of her. She held forth in her kitchen. She did not like anybody else fooling around in it. Ever. For any reason. When it was beyond her to handle all the work of a big family get-together we tried in vain, always in vain, to make her stay in the den while we handled everything. She would take her place on one of the stools and point at what we were looking for, and very often, for some reason, somebody would be sure to get The Look.

I thought, while on my walk, of all the wisdom Mama threw my way. I wish I could claim to have caught and held on to more of it than I did, but the one bit I at least try to live as well as she always did, which is evident in those pictures up there, is this:

When you have a choice, choose joy. Goodness knows, she had as many reasons as most of us do to complain, and goodness also knows, she did her share of it. But she always chose not to live mired in the worst or hardest or saddest or most disappointing moments life sent her way. She chose joy, and every time I choose the same, it's because she taught me how. Today, it's how I honor her.