Tuesday, February 7, 2012
The story goes that when I was little they tried to have me call my grandmother "Grandma". But I would take my fat little baby hand and rub this very old couple's heads on a figurine & in my best southern drawl say "Maaaaaaaaa" & "Paaaaaaaaaa". And so it was. She was Ma and my grandfather was Pa.
I had a realization the other night. My kids will never have MY Ma.
Pretty much everything I had that survived my childhood, my kids have (or could have if they wanted). They even get a better version of my mom than I had. They get the cool version of her...the one that encourages ear piercing and hair cutting and incredibly excessive amounts of sugar.
But they will never have my Ma.
When it hit me, it made me really sad. Even as I type this, I'm fighting tears. For those that know me, that's a big deal. The effects of age & time & life are taking their toll on my Ma. That's the Ma my babies have...the aging, out-of-touch Ma. The one that loves them dearly, but forgets their names. The one that watches them play, but doesn't engage. The Ma they make nervous because they're wild & loud & well...kids. Please understand, I'm so very thankful she is still here & a part of our lives. But, even though it is the same woman, they have their Ma & I have mine. I wish they could have spent a little time with my Ma, because she was the best Ma....EVER.
I had the Ma that had giant cliffs behind her house and let me play for hours, unsupervised on those cliffs. I made the mistake of going to those cliffs as an adult. Turns out they weren't cliffs at all, but as a child...they were the steepest, highest, scariest rocks ever and I was the bravest kid for climbing them & jumping off. Not once did she listen to my adventure stories and give me any hint they weren't cliffs. Not once.
I had the Ma that, after a tornado touched down and flipped her carport upside down, let me play for days in the rubble. There was no talk of getting dirty or hurt. I wanted to play & she let me. If I had gotten hurt, she would have bandaged me and sent me back out. The same carport that, when rebuilt, was shade for the only unfortunate witness to my endless loop of Thriller (recorded from the radio, of course) and the dance that went with it.
I had the Ma that let me destroy her living room so I could build a fort. The same living room that was my home while I suffered through the chicken pox. The same living room where I received my one & only spanking from her. The same living room where I watched Challenger explode & saw MTV for the first time.
I had the Ma that would let me sit, staring out the window, sobbing uncontrollably because my daddy was supposed to pick me up for the weekend. She never told me to stop, she never tried to "fix" it, she let me be sad & mad & show emotion. She never made me move from that window until I was ready. Then she'd hug me and say "it's ok, you've got your Ma." And I did...I always had my Ma.
I had the Ma that taught me the definition of a curse word. "If it's in the Bible, it ain't a cuss word and your Ma can say it." (Too bad that lesson didn't stick.)
I had the Ma that taught me about marriage & relationships.
I had the Ma that took me shopping on Saturday & church on Sunday. Every Saturday. Every Sunday.
I had the Ma that rubbed my fingers as I fell asleep. Every night. The one that braided hair so tight, you tried to remember the previous lesson on Biblical cursing. The one that took a nip of whiskey for a sore throat or nerves or just about anything else that ails ya.
I had the Ma that taught me about life. I had the Ma that encouraged imagination & singing & dancing. The one that taught me it's ok to be so angry you can't stop crying, but, when you're ready, to let it go & forgive. The one that also taught me to be stubborn & head-strong & not to let anyone have power over me.
I've heard that if a man wants to see how his wife will be in the future, he should look at his mother-in-law. My husband should look at my Ma. She shaped so much of the person I am today. The ways I see her in me are endless.
I'm not sure what that means for anyone else in my life, but for my future grandchildren...
If I can be anything like her, they're going to be some pretty lucky kids.