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Remembering Mama in a Special Way By Mae Catherine Godhigh

Mother’s Day – For many, it is the longest day on earth.

I was having a conversation with a woman who was conflicted about celebrating Mother’s Day. She told me she lost her mother at the tender age of two years.

She looked at me through glossy eyes and said, I never got a chance to remember my mother’s touch or even her smell and that really hurts. All of the memories other people have about their mothers, I never had them. How do you cope and celebrate that? I did not have an instant answer for her.

The unimaginable and the power of her statement shook me to the core. I thought about the mothers who died giving birth and the mothers who were suddenly taken. In this space, we shared our relationship with God and being motherless. What rushed over me was shame because I was selfishly preparing for a tidal wave of depression on May 8th.

In a flash, I experienced a “from the cradle to the clouds” moment. God had given us 84 years of sweet memories with our mother. I remember mama walking me to Lincoln Elementary School for my first day of kindergarten. Some of the children were crying but mama gently nudged me and told me to get in line. She told me; I’ll be back in a few hours to get you. I never cried because mama told me I was a big girl and I believed her.

I remember brushing my mama’s hair and wanting to be just like her. She taught me how to cook and make sack lunches. One day, she told me, on Saturday, I’m going to teach you how to separate, wash, iron and fold clothes. Since I was only in the fifth grade, I asked her why. She said, just in case I don’t wake up in the morning, you’ll need to know how to do this stuff. Guess what? I passed the same teaching to my children just in case. What followed was her detailed instructions on how to wash windows with vinegar and how to properly clean and maintain our house.

Mama was beautiful, fierce and regal. When it came to fashion, what other people wore was never important to her. She taught me how to mix colors and fabrics that reflected my personality. She hated cheap perfume and so do I.

In the kitchen, Mom mastered taste and presentation. Paper plates were for picnics. Chandeliers and windows were meant to sparkle! She taught me how to organize my first garage sale. Mama was there at every occasion, the birth of all three of our children, birthdays, graduations, athletic and debate events, my ordination graduations and weddings. She was our counselor, protector, cheerleader and encourager.

We could always count on her for physical and emotional band-aids. Mama was always at our sickbed and others. What I loved about her was that she never supported us when we were wrong. One time I was seeking her advice and she replied, Now Cat that’s some bad thinking you got going on. In that moment I felt so small because I realized that she was exactly right.

Mama allowed us to make mistakes in life. When we fell flat on our faces, she was always there to pick us up. If we lost our way, we could always go back home and start again. Yes, I miss the hat shows, shopping, her Friday fish fry, sharing watermelon with her, vacations, the yard sales and just sitting on the patio with her.

This brings me back to the original question; how do you celebrate Mother’s Day when you are hurting? The answer is you do it through the tears. You do in the mirror. You do it scared. You do it knowing that your mother lives in you. You do it knowing there will be “the whys” that we will never understand. But one thing we do know is Heaven is a place where “the whys” are no more. Mama is now spending Mother’s Day with her mama. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

Thank you, Sister Joe Ann Cayson, for adding your strength to mine. As she was leaving, I asked her by the way, do you look like your mama? She smiled and said, just like her! Sis, you reminded me of how blessed I am to remember mama in a special way.