Friday, March 02, 2007

Important stuff.

Chloe W. Moore

Memories are important, and today I'm gonna share some with you. Pardon the probable typos. My eyes are already tearing up, thinking of what I'm about to write...

Tomorrow is March 3, 2006 and will be the 6th anniversary of the death of my maternal grandmother.

Mama Moore. She was a retired teacher, most of that career was in the first grade classroom at Sylvania High School. There are hundreds of kids that occupied those short chairs in her room. A room decorated with ABC's and 123's and books about Curious George and building blocks and the distinct smell of chalk dust and fat pencils and fat crayons and paper with dashed lines. And love. Lots of love.

She was my brother's first grade teacher but not mine. I would like to have that memory of her too.

But my memories are of spending the night at her house and sleeping in the big, tall bed in her front bedroom. That bed was sooooo tall and the quilts were soooo heavy. I think the memories of crawling up under the sheets in that bed, those snugly-tucked, clean sheets, that make me race with the rest of my little family to be the first under the covers when I've washed the sheets for our bed. And the memory of the weight of those quilts that mashed on my toes, uncomfortable but comforting, gives preference to quilts on our bed instead of fluffy down comforters.

I remember going on trips with her. Old lady trips. Charter bus trips to Natchez, MS, for the annual Spring Pilgrimage, where she squeezed my hand HARD and told me in her most dramatic whisper "That's why I'm a Democrat." And a trip to Epcot, during which I experienced one of my early hypoglycemic black-out because I'm too hungry and stupid episodes and scared her to death in the bathroom of a Morrison's Cafeteria.

I remember her buying all kinds of things for me. Michael Jackson's Thriller album - 33rpm, no less!!! Of which she asked me repeatedly if my mom and dad would approve.

I remember her coming to the hospital and sitting with me during my 3 hour glucose tolerance test during my pregnancy with Stinkerbell. This not-so-secretly annoyed me. And I regret my annoyance at her concern. She could have slept late that day, and I acted like a turd.

I remember her telling me stories about my Papa and his bright blue eyes. "Like yours," she'd say and brush my shaggy hair out of my face. Papa died of a massive heart attack before my first birthday, so my only memories of him are stories from Mama and my own mom. He was a card, they say. Her love for him was deep and true and passionate.

I remember her riding to Auburn with me for a night trip between quarters and her sharing her "scientific" explanation for the origin of AIDS. Don't even ask. It made me forget how to drive a stick-shift for a full 5 minutes. And I did NOT laugh!

But there are things about Mama that I learned about her instead of remembering.

I learned that years before my Papa's death, when my mom and her sisters and brothers were still young, Mama realized that she would probably live longer than Papa (he was several years older than she) and would need to support her children and herself. So, she drove herself to Jacksonville State University and earned her teaching degree. I must point out that JSU is now more than an hour's drive from where she lived - with better roads and more reliable cars and safer travel conditions, in general. But she did this in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Alone or with her oldest daughter, she did this a few nights a week, after caring for her home and 4 children while Papa was at work during the day.

I learned that she managed her finances with skill and invested in property around her home, expanding her estate by several times. She managed the mining of coal from some of the property she bought and further increased her wealth. She leased out additional farm land to other farmers near her, allowing them to increase their yields and her to further increase her annual income.

I learned that, for all the wealth she built (which is still not vast, but was very comfortable), she was not frugal. She bought clothes and never removed the tags. She collected spoons from her travels. SPOONS. She couldn't part with hundreds of empty butter bowls missing lids - or lids missing bowls.

She had more than one Shotgun Red doll. (Why have one?)

I learned that her love for her children was unconditional, but flawed.

I learned that her love for her Jesus was unending.

I learned that she understood people and life a lot more than I ever will.

I learned that even if people hurt you or you hurt others, you can still love them with all your heart.

She died in the Cardiac ICU at Montclair Hospital (now Trinity Hospital) after coronary bypass surgery. Stinkerbell was 6 weeks old. I had driven the hour and half drive with the baby the day before her surgery, fearing that it might be the last time she would see my daughter. It was. She loved my daughter and kissed her all over and felt her soft skin and whispered important things in her ears. She knew her risks were high for the surgery. But she knew that it was her best chance at improving her health for the time to come.

I miss her. But not near as much as my mom. My mom and her were best friends. After 6 years, she still hurts from the loss.

So, this post is in memory of my Mama and honor of my Mom. Two women who exemplified strength, love, passion, integrity, devotion and goodness.

They are why I wanted to be a mom.

They are why I try to be a good mom.

Maybe, half as good as they were.

I love you Mama.

I love you Mom.

Look at my babies and be proud of them.

Because of you....

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