Remembering Mamaw

I haven’t really known what to write here. I have a lot of thoughts, but I’m not really sure how to string them all together so that they make sense. And I have these mixed emotions that consist of grief, joy, and irreverent humor. So much irreverent humor. Anyway, there’s a good chance that a lot of what’s to come won’t make much sense.

Last week, my family said good-bye to my great-grandmother. She passed away last Monday at the age of 95. To say that she was ready to go would be an understatement. In fact, she had been praying that God would take her home for well over a year. That said, it’s been difficult to feel sad because now we can rest in the knowledge that she’s no longer suffering.

I confess, I’ve often joked about Mamaw’s longevity. When I was a junior in high school and taking photography, my mother insisted that I bring my camera to the family’s Christmas get-together because, “It might be Mamaw’s last Christmas.” People, that was 18 years ago. From then on, it was my belief that she would outlive us all. Of course, that was a ridiculous notion.

There is no shortage of memories where Mamaw is concerned. I remember going to her house for special events and holidays. I don’t remember the house being kid friendly in the traditional sense. There weren’t a lot of toys or games for us to play with. But that didn’t mean Mamaw didn’t love to have the kids in her house. There seemed to be an endless supply of M&Ms that were “hidden” away. We all knew where they were.

And as sweet as she was, and as much as she enjoyed having the kids around, we knew better than to get on her bad side. See, Mamaw had this look that she would give us when she wanted to convey that we were in trouble or she was disappointed. Over the years, we came to call this the “Mamaw Look”. Original, right? Well, she’s not the only one who mastered it. My own grandmother (also called Mamaw, and yes, that was as confusing as it sounds while growing up) is able to give the “Mamaw Look” at the drop of a hat. We’ve tested her. It’s a stern expression, but behind it is the grandmother or great-grandmother who is trying not to smile or laugh at her precocious grandchildren.

Funerals aren’t really the most comfortable of situations for me. I’m not sure how they’re comfortable for anyone, really. Maybe it’s my introversion that makes me dislike the visitation portion of the grieving process. When I’ve gone to visit the family or friends of the recently deceased, it’s hard to know what to say. On the other side of things, it’s still hard to know what to say, but then you have to stay for several hours while people you haven’t seen in decades filter in and out to express their condolences. Not that their condolences aren’t appreciated. It’s just pretty uncomfortable.

And what do I do when I’m uncomfortable? I lean on that wacky sense of humor that people tend to describe as a “defense mechanism.” Whatever that means. So with my sister and my cousins, I cracked some inappropriate jokes and flirted with the idea of taking some selfies. I thought that might be going a bit too far, until my own mother dared me to do it. I resisted that particular urge.

I was asked to sing at the funeral service. It was an old hymn that I’d never heard before. Usually, I don’t get nervous when getting in front of people and singing. But I was slightly terrified that I would mess up, even though it was only two verses. I know I got up and sang when I was supposed to, but honestly, it’s all a blur.

Mamaw lived a long life. She loved the Lord and she loved her family. The good-bye we said last week is only temporary, knowing we’ll see her again in eternity.

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