Monday, November 15, 2010

Mamaw Audrey....Great Balls of Fire!

I believe that ole' Jerry Lee meant for this to be an exclamation.  And an exclamation is exactly what my Mamaw is.  Where do I start?  To truly grasp my relationship with my maternal grandmother, one must realize just how close we are.  She has always lived next door to my parents, and has had a fundamental role in my "raising".  I have spent probably just as many nights at her house as I have my parent's, and got to go back as an adult and live with her for a month and a half before my wedding to Woody.  (Much to Woody's chagrin, he says that made me waaaaay too spoiled!)  Everyone in my home county knows "Mamaw Audrey" or simply "Mamaw".  It is true.  She is so larger than life that she only needs one name (move over Cher).  She is a fireball with the determination and business sense of Scarlett O'Hara, the brutal honesty of "Weezer" Boudreaux, and the kindness and neighborly friendship of Aunt Bea. 

Honestly, I could fill pages with "Mamaw Stories".  Things that she has said or done (mostly said) that could keep us entertained for hours on end.  Mamaw is truly a "ball of fire" and she says absolutely what she thinks.  And her grandchildren (now great-grandchildren, too)  do no wrong.  Just ask Woody.  Before our wedding we were sitting at Mamaw's kitchen table when she gave him some unsolicited marriage advice.  It goes something like this, Mamaw:  "Woody, now you need to know that I don't believe that Mandy has ever made a mistake.  So if you and her feel the need to squabble and you disagree with her, don't come running to me.  I will always believe that she is right."  Woody: "Mamaw, that is EXACTLY what is wrong with her!"  And it is.  But shouldn't everyone be spoiled rotten by their Mamaw?  But while she was cooking me my favorite foods, letting me pluck snacks and gum off the shelf at the station, or letting me run up a tab at the Village Shoppe, she has passed on some pretty great traits.  Here is just a few:

1. Keen Business Sense
This might seem a little strange when one is describing their grandmother, but Mamaw truly has the best business know how of anyone I know.  She has impeccable accounting skills and according to many a sales tax auditor keeps the cleanest, clearest bunch of books around.  She ran a full service gas station after my Papaw passed when I was two years old.  Her and the men.  This is back when people actually pumped your gas for you(oh, how I miss those days!).  The men pumped gas, changed oil, worked on tires (more often than not, timberjack tires.  In case you didn't know they are pretty huge), and washed cars.  Mamaw supervised it all from a stool behind the cash register.  Along with several old men who sat around, drank Cokes, and talked about everyone who came through the gas pumps.  Some of my fondest memories involve being up there at that service station.  It is on that concrete wall that my height was measured year after year with black magic marker, and it was there that I learned to handle money, balance books, and keep track of profits.  I was always so proud of her, she seemed so sure of herself and so smart.  And I wanted to be just like that.  She also made everyone feel welcome, which leads to the next point....

2. Politician-like personality
Award winning personality. Yep, she's got it.  Adults and children adore her.  Mamaw is as charming of a lady as they come.  We often joked that she could have been governor if she would have just decided to do so.  She doesn't forget names and she remembers everything about you after you've met.  Probably because there has been lengthy discussions about you and "where you came from" after you've left.  Must figure out whose child you are and your mother's mother who was the sister of so and get the point.  She also sees the best in people which I believe leads to her charm.  A person is never too high or too low to receive her undivided attention. One of the lessons she told me on one of our Friday night eating outs is, "You need to speak to people and hug their necks."  Which meant, to make everyone you come in contact with feel special.  Speak first, speak often, and people will fill welcome.  She truly believes that we are all God's children and deserve her respect.  However, once you are the recipient of her love and respect, you get the truth....

3. Brutal Honesty
Gained a few pounds?  Not been attending church?  Hair too long or short?  Dressing terribly? Again, gained a few pounds?  If you are one of the chosen ones to be in Mamaw's "love circle", you are getting the truth, whether you like it or not.  I have heard her give the what for to many of the old men that passed their golden years away up at the station and I have also been the recipient of the "gained a few pounds" comments.  Whew! It's tough. When I would come home from college, I would always stop at the station (or later on the Video Store) first.  It was tradition that I see her before Momma or Daddy and that is just how she liked it (and me too!)   But before I walked in after a long three hour drive, I managed to slide on a little lipstick and I never wore slouchy driving clothes.  Because intense scrutiny lie inside those glass doors and when you have been gone for a month, it is even stronger.  She assessed and hopefully I came out favorably. Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't, but you can be sure if I didn't, I deserved it. That is what is so grand.  It takes someone who loves you to tell you "like it is" and the world would be a much better place if their were more people just like her.

4.Devotion to God
Mamaw is extremely faithful and her devotion to Jesus Christ is amazing.  For as long as I can remember, she is there every time the church doors open, even when she worked six days a week.  Every night, she reads her Bible and prays for her loved ones, the sick, and missionaries. The latter of which she read aloud to me every night from the book, "Open Windows", a practice adopted by her mother.  By the way, I asked her just yesterday does she still do that, and she said, "Yes, every night."  What faith!  It was she that I loved to follow to church, to the alter, and to the Word of God.  It was she and I that would head up to the Gospel Mission on Saturday nights and listen to old time gospel music.  (I still love that old gospel music now) I hope that my in my adulthood, my faith and love for Jesus can compare to hers.  She is truly an inspiration and a blessing from our Lord and Savior!

I must be honest, in reading back over this blog. This truly does not capture everything about her personality.  But she is not one to be summed up in one simple article, as I stated before, a book could be devoted to her story and the stories that she herself creates.  A pillar of strength, a bundle of charm, and a dash of simply hilarious, I love everything about her.  The impact that she has had of my life cannot be measured, but I hope that the lessons stick.  She has tried her best to instill in me the best things that she has to offer, but as hard as I try, she cannot be duplicated.  And that is truly for the best, because she is one of a kind. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Momma....You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet.

Momma with Cooper, the day he came home from the hospital

In honor and recognition of the lovely month of November, the month in which I was born, I am writing a multiple part series on the people that have influenced my life the most, or people that I want to imitate in my life but I am failing miserably in doing so. (doesn't mean that I will ever stop trying)  Featuring a new person every few days, (let's face it, I am not disciplined enough to make it EVERY day) these articles are identifying various people who have impacted me in the most dramatic ways.  I only feel that it is appropriate to make the first entry about my Momma, my best friend and my steady rock.  So without further ado,  here are some things that she has tried to instill in me over the years, either intentionally or unintentionally. 

Momma and Caroline at Christmas, 2009
 1.  Sacrifice and Selflessness.....we always came first 
 Ok, so I didn't say that I am a fast learner, because I haven't exactly learned these two traits well, but looking back over the years with my more seasoned hindsight, I have realized to some extent how selfless my mother is regarding me.  She has truly went without material possessions so that I may have.  I cannot count all the exact instances of these precious sacrifices, but I want her to know that I see them clearly now.  I see the love that pours out of her heart for Mack and I, and the wherewithal to go barefoot in the snow for the two of us if she thought it would make us happy.  I believe that it took having my own children to realize the magnitude and scope of her love for us.  I truly (along with my brother) feel like my momma's proudest possessions, and she has never done a single thing for me to doubt otherwise.  This also makes me feel ashamed, however. To have grown up as I did with blinders, seeing only what I wanted to see, seeing only what relates to me and my comfort.  I have wasted 35 years (oops! didn't mean to let that age slip...moving along)  not letting her know everyday how much I love and appreciate everything she is and everything she does.  I would love her desperately no matter what, but her selflessness makes me want to repay her with all my love and admiration every day.

Grandparent's Day
2.  Dry sense of humor....or laughter through pain
My momma clearly has the driest sense of humor of anyone I know, and she always makes me the MOST inopportune times!!  Momma can take the most morbid and sad moments and manage to comment (sometimes unintentionally) a quip that can make you grin through the tears or seriousness.  However, I believe this comes from having superb emotional strength.  She is truly a "steel magnolia" and has been since way before the phrase became so popular.  Not one to wallow in self-pity or give into melodramatic drama that is so characteristic of our gender, she can truly make a strong face in a bad situation.  Laughter through tears is truly a wonderful emotion.  It reminds us that life does go on, and that what is waiting for us in eternity for those who believe in Jesus Christ, is sorrow free.  Isn't that grand?  Therefore, it isn't necessary to take this life here on earth too seriously, for "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."  Proverbs 17:22  Just ask my momma, life is truly too short to spend it not laughing about the little things that get you down.

3.  Girls can like football, too....and look good at the same time
Football as a spectator sport has come a long way.  I truly feel in this day and age of all-access, twenty four hour a day media coverage and the soap opera-like drama going on off the field, more ladies watch the sport that I have channeled into since I came into this world.  My momma has always been an avid follower and watcher of college football (so was my great-grandmother, but that is another story).  She can call a block in the back before the yellow flag is flung from the pocket of a referee and cheer with gusto a spectacular catch that results in a touchdown for her beloved Crimson Tide.  Few women I know watch the games with as much attention and fervor (much to her blood pressure's chagrin).  But never one to be labeled with a stereotype, my momma is what you would call today a "guy's girl", but she is as prissy and conscious about good grooming as the next princess that wouldn't know a wide receiver from a defensive lineman.  Don't let her looks fool you, she can get as feisty as a firecracker about a erroneous (depends on which way you look at it) pass interference call (or lack thereof). But then lower her blood pressure after a particular stressful game with some good old fashioned retail therapy.  Everything in moderation, my momma has good balance, she can hang with the boys and giggle with the girls.  And everything else in between.

4.  Her foundation is set upon Jesus Christ....and she showed us how to lay our own stones
My momma has always taken us to church, no matter what.  There was never a question of if we were going on Sunday morning.  We got up, we got ready, and barring sickness we were there.  She and her two little troops.  Looking back, sometimes for her it would have been easier to be more lackadaisical about church attendance.  She was a young mother, and most of the time she went by herself for whatever reason.  The young sometimes do not realize the importance of Christ in their own lives, much less the lives of their children, but my momma had us in Sunday school and taught us at a young age about salvation and the love of our Creator.  Maybe this is the most important thing that she ever did for us, surrounding us in Christian love and a showing us how a devotion to Christ and his church was a never failing source on strength and power. I have been blessed with many Godly people in my life, which you will see in the coming blogs; however, it is my mom's persistence, prayers, and presence that have helped me the most in my struggling walk with Christ.

Caroline's 4th Birthday
 There you have it.  A small glimpse into the personality of my Momma.  I probably should clarify that this blog and the following ones that will honor and revere the some of the most important people to me will contain certain aspects of each one's character that I have and that I also WISH to have.  For some reason or another, each of these people have things about them that I admire and that I pack away in my memory for my journey in this short life.  My mother is no exception.  She is strong, beautiful, selfless, and chock full of common sense.  Thank you, Jesus, for giving me her as my mother. 

Any love is good love,
So I took what I could get.
Then she looked at me with those big, brown eyes
And said, "You ain't seen nothin' yet"
                                                      - Bachman Turner Overdrive

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Only Thing that Separates Us From the Animals....

Caroline in a self designed tooth fairy costume, poor Cooper doesn't know what to think. our ability to accessorize!  I really don't think that I have comprehended this legendary quote until I have taken up residence with a true diva, Princess Caroline.  Fortunately, her foray into fashion has given me inspiration to write, and that is something that I haven't had in quite some time.  Call it writer's block, call it blog funk, call it lazy, but I just haven't felt like taking the time to indulge myself in this particular hobby.  But just this week, I was called to the carpet by a 5 year old.  She stated plainly that I haven't blogged about her lately, (how would she know this?) and I haven't mentioned to cyberspace about her fashion.(her word not mine)  Clearly, I cannot fill an entire space entirely dedicated to her and her many accessories.  But I can tell you three traits of her multi-faceted personality that defines her as a true diva-in-training.

Note the zebra print backpack and sunglasses..and we are driving a tractor!
1.  Never, ever leave the house without a handbag.  One may find themselves thinking that this is a very practical habit, you have everything that you need in case of a speeding ticket, car accident, emergency milkshake run to McDonald's.  But need I remind you the subject in question is 5.  There is no driver's license or credit cards.  There is however, multiple hair clips, plastic bracelets, and enough Bonne Belle lipsmackers to grease the lips of every frostbitten resident of the state of Alaska.  Throw in a small stuffed animal (why?) and a kid tough camera and you have the idea.  Might I also add that a bonified meltdown will ensue if we manage to get a mile down the road and we realize that we have left the bag.  I am talking wailing and gnashing of teeth.  It is borderline ridiculous. So to combat these periodic leaps off the fragile emotional state cliff, she has taken to leaving a "spare" handbag in my car, filled to the brim with "spare" accessories. You never know when you might need to call a friend from that plastic cell phone.

2.  Wrists and/or ankles must be adorned  I must admit that I can relate to this one on the surface.  I truly feel a bit bare without a watch and wedding rings when I leave the house, but this is a whole other level.  Miss Priss must always have something, whether it be the multiple plastic bracelets (see #1)  or a silicone wrist watch or simply an elastic ponytail holder.  You will not catch her without something.  Sometimes we just loop the ponytail holder around the ankle. This helps when we have to do activities such as gymnastics where the bracelets aren't practical or go to Kindergarten where they are just banned. Such absurdities are simply a natural part of life for her, it separates her from the masses.

3. Must have high maintenance demands  Maybe I should have labeled this one needy personality quirks.  Call it what you want to, but in order to be a true in training diva, you must have a couple of "need these to get through my day" demands tucked away in your back pocket. A good example is that Caroline must always be accompanied by a stuffed animal, two blankets, and a pillow pet dolphin when she is lounging around the house or traveling or sleeping.  Flippy the Dolphin and BB and Soft B (the blankets) are a staple, but the stuffed animal or animals are interchangeable.  This week it may be a Care Bear, next week it may be a stuffed horse. Who knows?  There is no rhyme or reason, and that is what keeps her entourage (that is us...the rest of the family) on our proverbial toes.  Bedtime and we don't have Jessie's hat, oh how can we ever sleep?  Going to church and we don't have Shiny GaGa, (which by the way is a very specific Care Bear, thank you very much)  we can't possibly learn about Jesus without her!!  See how this works? 

In summation, our little fashion queen is truly very sweet and smart, and her little quirks make her love her all the more.  But remember, to be truly fancy as she is, you must think, eat, and breathe fancy twenty-four hours a day.  Not a task for the faint of heart to be sure.