Let me Tell You

Although I am miles away from Beth and Russ today, my thoughts are with them. When our kids get married and most times have families of their own, they take on added responsibilities. Their time and how they slice the 24 hour days looks differently. Frankly, the calls to Mom become few and their times are short. And then, as we age, it takes us a bit to catch on to the latest technology and current trends. Face it, we are suddenly not as smart and in their hurried lives, our words don’t always carry the weight they once did.

I assume it was the same with our generation when it came to parents and grandparents but I can tell you today, I would love the opportunity to sit with Lola in the swing on her front porch, or to perch myself on a bar stool overlooking Carolyn’s kitchen sink. I would slow down and I would listen. My breath would hinge on every word coming from their lips. I would cherish those moments and I would learn, whether it be a life lesson or a recipe. But for now, because it’s the month of Mother’s Day, let me tell you about my mom. While I’m at it, I share with you my most loved grandmother.

2 Tim 1.5: When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

Let me tell you about my mom.

Carolyn was a little bitty woman, all of 4’11.5″ and full of personality. My mom was the best short order cook at all hours of the day or night. Whether cooking hamburger patties in the early mornings for Dad’s lunches or midnight french fries for my brothers after their late night shenanigans, she knew how to cook fast. When we were there on the weekends, she was sure to make Mickey Mouse pancakes for the grandkids. Truth be told, I believe most family meals were from an electric skillet or a deep fryer. I’m quite sure she wore out more than one Fry Daddy.

It was common to stop by on a Saturday morning and find her watching grade B movies (typically Godzilla or something like) while standing behind an ironing board. My dad’s and my brothers’ shirts were meticulously starched and pressed. They looked as if they’d come straight from the dry cleaners. She was a doer when it came to showing love and Carolyn loved her kids bigger than anyone I know. Most of her time was spent doing for us.

Shopping was probably her favorite past time and her only hobby. Her fast-paced shopping trips were not for the faint of heart. I remember them as a day’s long marathon that stretched from one end of Little Rock to the other. I’d gladly run that marathon with her today. Carolyn would not have been a fan of Amazon because she was compelled to see, touch, and compare.

Mom was funny and so were her words and ideas. In the summer months, she would say “I’m not driving on the interstate because my tires would overheat.” In the springtime, she would comment on the blooming “washateria.” And when one of my brothers got into trouble, she would call the roll (even the dog’s name) before she yelled the correct name. If I close my eyes, I can still hear her voice. I can hear her laugh. She died in 1998. Carolyn was way too young to leave us.

Let me tell you about my grandmother.

Since Mother’s Day 1983, the day of my maternal grandmother’s death, my thoughts go to her each year. She had suffered a stroke and laid unable to speak for a month. I remember sitting bedside and reading aloud the El Dorado newspaper. I read scripture, mostly from Psalms. That month was sad, and perhaps even more so because she was a talker. She was a feisty woman with a lot of spunk.

Lola was smart and she was resourceful. Mom told stories about the two of them going to high end stores where Mamaw would have her “choose” a dress or even a coat. They would go home and in a day or two, she would have what she had chosen, handmade by my Mamaw and stitched to perfection. She told about travelers coming from the nearby railroad tracks to ask for food during the days of depression. Lola would bake a pan of biscuits and hand them out the back door.

Mamaw shared with me about when she walked her kids to the nearest church due to gas rationing. It was not long that she would begin teaching a ladies Sunday School class. And then, as the story goes, the Methodist pastor asked her to join. “I am a Baptist and I will not join but I will be happy to teach” she replied. Mamaw valued being Baptist and she did continue to teach. I have a feeling the Methodists got a little Baptist doctrine along the way.

Following her death, we found a workbook tucked in the top dresser drawer. She was taking a correspondence course from a Bible college. I should’ve asked for that workbook with her handwriting between the lines. But mostly, what I remember that was tangible of her faith was the bronze colored family Bible. It laid on the living room coffee table from the earliest time I can recall. I wish she’d told me more. I wish I’d asked more.

Psalm 145.4: One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

It’s my hope that in my absence my kids not only recall what they’ve heard me tell about my Christian faith, but also what they’ve seen as an “unfeigned” faith like the one witnessed by Paul (2 Tim. 1:5). It’s my desire that my loved ones witness a faith that is not kept in the books on my shelves. I want to leave behind a faith that has been learned and lived. However, genuine faith is personal, not something I can merely bestow.

Genuine faith is personal, not something I can merely bestow.

We can’t guarantee the salvation of our children or grandchildren, but we can be intentional about living faithful lives. I do my part with the understanding that God is responsible for the results. May I leave a legacy that leads those I love to say Let me tell you about my mother, my grandmother. Let me tell you about her Jesus.

Psalm 78.4: We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

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