Mamaw was ready to go and had been for a very long time. She had even told me so. However, I wasn’t ready to say good-bye.
As I stood next to Mamaw lying so peacefully in her casket, knowing this would be the last time I would see her physically on this earth, I took her in. I looked at her cheekbones and her skin. Then I looked down at her hands. I was shocked! In all of my years I had never noticed them before. My hands were just like Mamaw’s.
I knew we were alike in so many ways. We were both basketball players, were tall and had big feet. Her feet were big. Mine are HUGE, but nonetheless, still similar. But in all of these years, the likeness in our hands had somehow escaped me. That’s when I looked at my daughter Kolbi’s hands, too. We were both in shock to see the similarities.
I know this sounds so trivial, but it really affected me. Noticing our hands made me truly see how we pass things down to our families. We pass down our looks, our likes and dislikes, and so many of our quirks and characteristics. Some we have to decide if we want to keep, some we simply have to accept (like my big feet!), and others we get to release.
There are a couple of things I hope to keep that I took from Mamaw.
The first gift I will carry on is my crazy sense of humor that I shared with my mamaw. Mamaw and I had a relationship that you normally don’t find between a grandma and grandchild. I always sent her raunchy birthday cards! Yes, I did that. And she loved them! She told me that she looked forward to getting my card every year to see what I would send her. I did it because I knew it would make her laugh and bring a twinkle to her eye.
I took it one step further on her 70th birthday. We had an early birthday party for her at our family reunion. What did I do? I sent her a stripper! That’s right. There she was blindfolded in the middle of the room with a scantily clad stripper pouring honey on her fingers. She laughed the whole time. I knew she would love it and she did. She told me afterwards, “Honey, if I had been a little bit younger, I would have taken him home with me!”
I loved that about my mamaw. She was so real AND fun and I knew I could share my crazy sense of humor with her no matter how nutty I was.
When I shared this memory of Mamaw with my daughter Mackenzie, I asked, “I wonder if one of my grandkids will ever send me a stripper?” She responded, “Yes, and it will probably be one of my kids.” Yeah! The tradition lives on!
The second thing I learned from Mamaw is unconditional love for my family. In all of my 48 years knowing her, I never felt any judgment from her. She always had my back and truly loved and accepted me, even when others didn’t.
I know I’m not the only grandchild who felt this way about Mamaw. We all felt like her favorite. What a gift!
I know there are a lot of traits I carry from Mamaw, but these two are ones I CHOOSE to keep. I know that no matter what, she will always be a part of me, and a part of my family.
Rest in peace, Mamaw.