Did you know that since Victorian times, the different color of roses had different meanings?
When she passed my sister went through the ancient suitcase that held all her pictures and divided them up three ways. One for each of Mama's three kids...bless her heart, that couldn't have been an easy task. I know because I haven't touched that white plastic box she brought over here until today. I went looking for a good picture of Mama to put on this page since I wanted it to be a tribute to her. I figured I'd find enough that I could pick and choose among them but oh, no, that's not what I found at all.
What was important to Mama was in the box....baby pictures of her three children taken at a time when film and development was not cheap and Mama was a single mother. My father thought the grass was greener on the other side of the fence so she raised us on her own. There were pictures of birthday parties when Mama said, "Sure you can bring your whole school class to the party. I'll make the cake bigger." Pictures of every single phase of my life and then pictures of my kids and grandkids lives. Birthday parties, graduations, spring concerts, proms, weddings, grandkids births and when they graduated from kindergarten and then it started all over again with each generation.
There were letters I'd written to her more than forty years ago still in the envelopes, newspaper clippings about when I got married, when the kids were born and when I finally published my first book. I even found an envelope that said "Lemar's diaper pins and shower" on the outside in her handwriting. He was her first grandchild so she tucked away his little blue diaper pins and the shower invitation for me, knowing fully well that as often as I moved, I'd never keep up with them.
But the only pictures of Mama were those with her and the grandkids and dear hearts, to put one of each of those on the post would take all day because she had eight grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and half a dozen great-great grandkids. The ones who did not get their picture on Ma Essary's story? Let's just say there'd be hissy fits thrown across Oklahoma and Texas. And Mama would haunt my dreams if I "slighted" one of the kids.
After I wiped away the tears and put the lid back on the box I started looking at the framed pictures of her in my house.
There's one of her when she's about seventeen and one of her back when she was still healthy and full of spit and vinegar. One of her with her three kids taken on the last birthday party that we gave her...and she got to invite the whole class...which was everyone in the nursing home that she'd checked herself into when she couldn't take care of herself any longer.
But the one that took my eye was the one of her and the catfish.
Lord, Mama did love to fish! And believe me no one baited Mama's hook, took the fish off the hook or cleaned the catch when she got it home but Mama. And no one in the world could fry up catfish, hushpuppies and fried potatoes like she could either. She caught this big boy on a rod and reel and it took her a while to haul his bad boy butt to shore. It wasn't easy but once Mama set her head to do something...well, not even an enormous catfish on a ten pound test line argued with Mama.
Now the funny story that goes with this picture. The year that Mama caught that fish, she had dozens and dozens of copies of the picture made and put them in her Christmas cards (Remember...I did say that she loved to fish!) and her three kids got framed copies of the picture in their presents that year. Any time anyone mentions a picture of Mama, we all say in unison, "the fish picture!"
Mama taught me to stick with it if I really wanted something. She taught me to live on a shoe string if I had to and give thanks for the shoe string. She taught me to love unconditionally but she never, ever taught me to love to fish!
So here is Mama with her 28 pound catfish...Merry Christmas everyone...and Happy Mother's Day Mama! I'm not wearing a white rose this year because in my world you will never be gone.
To celebrate Mother's Day, I'll give away a signed ARC copy of Cowboy Seeks Bride. Mama would have liked it because she loved old western television shows! And the hero and heroine do go fishin' in a pond in the story! So leave a comment to get your name in the red boot for the drawing....which will be held tomorrow night.