Happy Mother's Day, Mama

By ELISA MAYO,

The other day my mama Facebook messaged me and got on to me.  For me, it doesn’t matter how old I am when mama gets on to me, I just say,”‘Yes ma’am.”  I’m sure she didn’t think that I would then turn around and write about her, but that’s the risk she takes.

Sometimes my mama is ‘mama’ and sometimes I call her JoAnn.  I know I shouldn’t call her by her first name, but for those who know her, you’ll understand why sometimes I have to.  Mama and I have always had a unique relationship.  Half the time I think I’m the mama, except she’s not my daughter, because I’d have to ground her.  Other times, she’s my mama and I’m glad.  She’s got a big old heart and a fiery mouth.  She lives up to her red hair. 

When I was a little girl, she always made me play by myself.  At the time, it was really annoying.  Now, I’m glad for it, because it helped me to have a great imagination.  Under an old oak tree in our backyard, I used acorns to cook meals for people only I could see.  I walked through woods and talked to myself.  I pretended Barbie dolls were real and had real lives and I gave them their personalities. (Not a JoAnn in the bunch) There are so many things you appreciate about your mama when you are small and other things you appreciate only after you are grown.

My mama always made sure our clothes were clean.  She was a Wonder Woman.  She ironed my daddy’s jeans and his welding hats.  She cooked breakfast for us every morning, and supper, too.  She worked every day at a job away from home.  There was even a time she worked two jobs.  I remember her working at the video store that was by Sunflower as a second job one time.  She’d let me tag along some.  I would go back in the back and dance to the oldies she played while she worked.  She occasionally sent me to Berry’s to get change for the register.  Honestly, I couldn’t believe she let me cross that huge parking lot and I admit my trepidation in doing so, but I went on because she promised me I could buy a King Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup when I got to the gas station.  I did and no one kidnapped me.  At the time, I seriously doubted her mothering skills (i.e. this was one time I was being the mama), but now I look back and wonder if she didn’t stand at that glass door and watch her little girl walk across that big parking lot carrying greenbacks to get change and worry a little.  The good Lord knows she chased me and my brother around the county when we were struggling through our teenage years.  She was a good mama.  The kind of mama who took care of you, took you to church, made sure no one pushed you around, took you to the library and fed you.  Our house was clean more than it wasn’t.  Even as a teenager, I realized how hard she worked.  She cut grass, planted flowers, hauled pine straw, painted fences.  She never seemed to stop.  I never recall seeing her sit down much.

I’m definitely not the same kind of mama as she was.  I get tired thinking about it. But, I’m glad God gave me a mama that pushed me.  There were times she was hard and I guess that was her way of being sure we were strong enough to make it in this world.  I’ll never forget the day I came home and told her the school had messed up my high school schedule.  She looked at me and said, “Well, I can go or you can go get it fixed.”  The vision of my mama hitting those school steps, sent me immediately to the counselor's office and onto a sidewalk where I sat in rebellion until my schedule was fixed.  I’m pretty sure that was a moment when I would have called myself, “JoAnn”.  Mama knew life wasn’t easy, she had struggled enough herself, and when it came to her kids she had no intention of raising pushovers.  Mama worked hard and probably felt like giving up on us sometimes.  But, she didn’t.  She plodded along through the worst we could throw at her and I know I broke her heart more than a few times.

I’ve got a good mama.  She may buy my kids a pot-bellied pig and have it dropped off at my house without asking if it’s okay.  She laughs.   And it’s just a time when I say, “Yes ma’am, JoAnn.  Remember who will be taking care of you in your old age.”  I love you, Mama.

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