A week ago this morning, I got one of those phone calls that you dread, but you know will come eventually. A loved one has died, and it's time to go home and face it. With my beautiful 96 year old grandmother, challenged with Alzheimer's, it was no surprise. To also find out on the same day that my mother had collapsed and was on life support was a terrible shock. I was the last of the four children to get there, and it's as if she hung on until we were all together once again. Twenty minutes after I arrived, she passed too.
The eulogies at the double funeral were of great comfort to us all. Listening to personal stories of my grandmother sewing the Easter dresses of her best friend's children back in the 30's because her friend had to have eye surgery and couldn't do them herself. And I was reminded of how so many people from around our small community often sought comfort in my mother's kitchen, because they knew that's one place where they could find lots of love and understanding. My older brother said it best, "If you needed to know how to do something, you went to Mimi's. If you were in trouble, you went to Mama's."
It's funny, but when I think about the conflicts about being from conservative, baptist southwest Georgia and holding the "liberal" views that I have and express here on this blog, I realize that I got those views from my Christian background and from these two country conservative women that led by example.
They were blood relations of past Georgia governors, a secretary of state, and several senators, representatives, bootleg millionaires, and others of more noble means. Yet, I doubt either of them ever had more than a handfull of paychecks in their bank accounts over what they needed to pay their monthly bills. But they were as "rich" or blessed as any of their relations. That was evident at their funeral.
They cared about other people. No one around them ever went without a meal or a place to sleep. They treated everyone the same. And it was my mother who taught me to never accept discrimination, and to never use racial slurs or to think in bigotted terms, or keep company with those that do.
They thought in terms of how things affected the world around them, not just themselves or only their family. They practiced on a small community scale, what some of us think should be done more around the world. Anything given by them was given freely with no expectations of anything in return. Yet, they received a lot in return for being the gracious ladies they were, mostly in the form of love.
Having been a caretaker and having watched my mother be a caretaker to my dad's mother, my father, and her own mother, this is something that will always be important to me. She constantly gave of herself to others. And her's was the most self-less soul that I've ever known.
My mother had a massive heart attack about 12 years ago. But her concern was not for herself. It was of Mimi. She said on several occasions that she asked only to live long enough to take care of her mother and not a day more. And so she did. Last Monday, that debt was paid in full.
If there are angels in the sky above, two more have joined their ranks.