My mama's birthday is today. For the better part of my life I knew her birthday but not the year in which she was born. Whenever I would ask her how old she was, she'd always say, "39 and holding". I wonder if she inspired the Jerry Lee Lewis song of the same name. As soon as I typed that I realized I'd rather not know.
I have a lifetime of "Mama Memories":
--sitting in her lap on a Saturday afternoon, watching the rain pepper our Sims Street driveway, and her telling me it was little children going to church as I drifted off to sleep.
--riding in the front seat of our '53 Mercury/'59 Ford/'64 Galaxie, nestled up against her, my head on her shoulder as we traveled somewhere. Before the advent of seatbelts or booster seats, there was Mama. I never felt safer in my life than when I rode with her.
--any and every time I was sick she took care of me, giving me whatever she sensed I wanted or needed. I'll never forget one evening I had the flu or something and all I wanted was a Dairy Queen hamburger. Mama sent Daddy over to Mrs. Pritchett (she owned the DQ) and got me a Brazier Burger. After they'd closed for the day.
--I'd sit next to her in church, and she'd make me little goblets out of Juicy Fruit wrappers. She'd ask me every Sunday during the invitation song if I wanted to get saved. One Sunday morning I said yes. I'm here by the grace of God and the persistence of Mama.
--as I grew older, riding with her anywhere was an adventure. She knew the speed limit, but she also knew every State Patrolman and Deputy in the surrounding counties. She never got stopped for so much as a warning. And she never drove slowly anywhere she was going. Once, on I-475 near Macon, she flew by a GSP trooper who obviously didn't know her. He gave chase, she hopped off at an exit, crossed over to the entrance ramp, and sat there until he passed by under the bridge. She out-troopered the trooper.
--before I ever got my Learner's License, I was allowed to drive. One Sunday afternoon Daryl Strickland and I wanted to drive the Galaxie out to the Dari Delite. Mama laid down in the backseat so it would look like Daryl and I were alone, cruising for girls. God knows what we'd have done if any girls had wanted to ride around with us that day. I guess they'd have ridden in the backseat. With Mama.
Everything I needed to know about life and living I learned from Mama. She's feisty and gracious, the original Steel Magnolia. You never have to question what she thinks about something, she makes it clear. She's sharp as a tack and sweet as mountain honey. She loves me, and that's been no small task.
She's my Mama. There's not another one like her anywhere. I love her with all my heart.
And today's her birthday.
Happy Birthday, Mama. I'm glad you're mine.