Today we have a very special Guest Post from my Little Mama. I told her she could have free reign and write about anything she wanted to, and this is what she chose. She’s always been an evocative, thoughtful and beautiful writer and I’m honored she agreed to share with us here. Hopefully she’ll do more in the future.
When she was an infant, a newborn, Katy would cry so hard to be fed that her whole body would shake. So Michael (her dad) and I started calling her the drama major. Fast forward about twenty-two years, when she graduated from college as–wait for it–a theater major. Of course, there had been a lot of drama in the meantime, so it wasn’t much of a surprise. In fact, I remember one time when she was agonizing and emoting over something; she was probably fifteen or sixteen. Her younger brother looked at me and said, “Remind me not to be like this when I’m a teenager, OK?”
We were so close, and I loved having Katy around so much, that I started dreading her going away to college probably two years before she actually had to go. I think I thought I could soften the blow; prepare myself somehow. It didn’t work at all. The day that we actually took her to school, set up her room, took her to lunch and finally had to leave was simply awful. I kept telling myself she wasn’t going to war; it was the most natural, wonderful thing in the world for her to go to college. We said our good-byes. As Michael and I were walking toward our car in the parking lot, he put his arm around me. In a shaky voice I said, “Don’t say anything nice to me, OK?” He laughed, but he knew what I meant. So he bought me a bag of M & M’s instead.
Katy really did enjoy being a theater major. It was like having a group of ready-made friends who all loved the same thing she did, I think. One Christmas break when she was home, she had been taking a class in dialects or accents, different ways of speaking. I had a glass bowl on the island in our kitchen that held all the Christmas cards we’d received. She started reading one card after another out loud, one with a Southern drawl, the next one with a British accent, etc. It was absolutely great; we loved it when she put on a show for us at the drop of a hat.
Another time I guess she had just watched the movie The Miracle Worker, about Helen Keller. She came downstairs from her room with her hair all ratted into a nest, makeup smeared, clothes askew. She sat down at the table and proceeded to do the scene where Helen, blind and speechless and behaving like a wild animal, eats dinner with her hands. Her brother and I were laughing so hard that I may have ended up on the floor. Yep, she was mighty entertaining, my girl.
One final snapshot. When my little mom was dying at age 89, we all gathered around her. I had spent the night with her in her hospital room, because her doctor had said the end was very near. I called Michael, and he drove the two hours to join me in our vigil. We called Katy, and she rented a car and left work early and also drove to say good-bye to her Gram. I had been without sleep for so long, but I was so glad when Michael got there, and then I knew Katy was on her way. My mom was totally lucid, sitting up in bed, smiling, speaking quietly from time to time. I looked up and there was my girl coming through the door. It was like being in a dark room and seeing the sun come bursting up. She had that gorgeous smile on her face, and I remember thinking, “I’ve seldom been so glad to see anybody.” And I knew my mom felt the same way about her first grandchild coming through the door. We sat in a circle around that room and told my mom one by one that we loved her, and she said the same thing back to each of us. Every once in a while she would just look at me at wink, her way of telling me everything was going to be all right. My little mom left us peacefully about six o’clock that evening.
I’ll never forget how I felt about seeing Katy enter that room. And, honestly, I still feel the same way every single time I see her. One of the great joys of my life today is knowing that now she feels the same way about a certain little boy and girl. The circle of life, don’tcha know.
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