We lost our beloved Mamaw 2.25.19, just over 10 months after she was diagnosed with a particularly vile form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. If you don’t know what that is, good. I hope you never do. If you do know what glioblastoma is, I am truly sorry. Find me and I will give you a hug.
We had a memorial this weekend and it was sad and happy and beautiful and difficult and necessary. I didn’t want to go and I did not want it to end. But that is kind of like life when someone you love has a terminal illness and is suffering, you want the suffering to end, but not like THAT!
Family and friends said lovely, very funny, and sometimes sad things about her. There was a beautiful song, and her best friend ended the eulogizing with songs and flower seeds! I learned some things I didn’t know and promised myself to try to channel her as I parent and eventually grandparent. It’s a high bar.
I want to share what I wrote as a eulogy for Mamaw. I am not entirely sure why, but I think it’s helping me cope and keep moving. Here it is:
Mamaw loved books. You all know this. She and I shared this love, particularly a love for children’s books. There’s a kids book called “I Love You the Purplest” and it’s about a mom who spent the day playing and exploring with her two sons. At the end of the day, one son asked which son she loves more. This Mom, being the loveliest mom in the history of moms, responded that she loves this child the bluest because blue is the color of a dragonfly’s wing, and went on to describe more blue things she loves about her son. When the other son asked, she told him that she loves him the reddest because it’s the color of sunset and a magic cape.
This is Mamaw.
She was able to love each of her people in a way that showed them that she knew them and loved them as their own self without taking away from anyone else.
I like to think she loved me the golden brownest because that’s the color of a well baked oatmeal cookie. Mamaw and I shared a love of cookies with one huge difference. She thought it was a acceptable to put raisins in cookies which is, obviously, ludicrous in a world where chocolate chips exist. She celebrated this difference between us and rejoiced in making oatmeal cookies with raisins and calling to tell me how delicious they were while I gagged on the other end of the phone. For my birthday she sent me a box of homemade oatmeal cookies with a wooden plaque that read, “raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the reason I have trust issues”. She included a note that read,
“Enjoy these chocolate chip cookies, not a raisin in sight! Or is there? Love Mamaw”.
I can hear her laughing. She definitely loved me the golden brownest.
Mamaw might have loved me the reddest, the color of her beloved peonies her father planted in Cumberland. After Pap died, she carefully moved some to her garden here in Virginia. When John and I bought our house, she waited until September, which evidently, is the right time of year to propagate peonies, and brought some to me. We picked the right sunny spot for them and they bloomed a deep velvet red every spring. We would call and update each other about our peonies: How many blooms do you have? Have the ants arrived yet? I can’t even look at a picture of a peony without feeling loved.
If you’re here, you know how she loved you. Maybe it’s the silver of the edge of the single cloud on a sunny day you went on a nature walk together. Or maybe it’s the lemoneyist of the lemons she knew you liked and would buy when you were visiting, or the grey-bluest of the water when you went for a swim together. Maybe it was the buttery yellowist of the Chardonnay you shared over dinner.
Mamaw loved us the purplest, the reddest, and the lemony-yellowest. She made it look effortless, and we are the luckiest.