Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dearly Beloved

Today was both a happy and a sad day. My cousin, Anne Claire, got married (which is the happy part) in Louisiana. I so wanted to be there to watch her walk down the aisle and remember how she used to sing "Blue Suede Shoes" in the bath tub every night. But we live here in OKLAHOMA, which happens to be very far away from Louisiana, and Jamie's work schedule prevented us from being able to make it. Not being able to make occasions like that always makes me homesick for my family in Mississippi. I was kept abreast of events through pictures and emails during the day and that made for some good laughs and made me feel more a part of things.

But what I wasn't expecting right before Annie's soccer game started, was a phone call from my father to tell me that my grandmother had died. This was not exactly unexpected news, since Bammy has not been doing well for a while and on Monday they discovered a large brain tumor. I guess it was the TIMING of the phone call that was unexpected. But then, is there ever a good time for these things? I didn't want to get too upset at the soccer fields, not out of embarrassment, or out of fear of eye makeup running everywhere, but because I didn't want Annie to suspect anything was amiss. Annie is very much my child. She wears her heart on her sleeve and feels EVERYTHING. She has known about Bammy's decline and about the tumor and was very sad about it all. I wanted to keep it from her long enough for her to be able to play her game and then I would tell her.

So, we managed to get through the soccer game (we won). And then when we got home, I told her. We both did some crying. Annie asked lots of questions. And then I got to tell her lots of my special memories with my Bammy. We cried some more. We also did a lot of laughing.

My girls are named after some special women. Annie is named after my grandmother, Mimi and my mother, who's names are both Annelle. And Jane is named after Bammy and my mother in law. Jane was Bammy's middle name. Funny how we had such a hard time coming up with a name for our second daughter, but when we thought of "Jane" it was a perfect fit. And now that Bammy is gone, I can't express how happy I am to have named my youngest after her.

Annie and I talked a lot about my memories about Bammy. I told her the story I used to love to have Bammy tell me. Once, when she was a little girl, she and her brothers were outside by the train tracks in cold weather. They were playing around and one of her brothers dared her to put her tongue on the train tracks. When she did it, her tongue instantly stuck to it. This was a problem, but the bigger problem was when the brother yelled, "TRAIN!!!!" which caused Bammy to rip her tongue from the train track, thus leaving behind a good chunk of skin. I always laughed and laughed at that story, especially the part when the brother got a good beating.

I told Annie about how Bammy used to make me fishing poles out of bamboo and then we would go down to the Benoit Outing Club and fish all morning until I was so hot and sticky that I would be begging to jump into the club pool just a few yards away. I told her that she taught me to do leaf rubbings and that she knew the names of EVERY flower and plant around. She could make the BEST hot fudge to go over ice cream. And her peach cobbler could not be rivaled. Whenever I find the PERFECT fig preserves, I am instantly transported back to my childhood and sitting in her kitchen with the smell of bacon (and possibly burned toast) in the air. She always had a smile and a laugh, and as I told Annie today, she always made me feel so beautiful. I was precious in her sight.

You want to know the best thing? Annie felt precious in her sight too. What a blessing. What a great blessing that my sweet girl is just as sad about losing my grandmother as I am. How lucky I am that my children can share such special memories of the people I love. Being able to share my love for Bammy with someone who loved her as I did was such a comfort to me today.

After our talk Annie went upstairs for a long while. She came down later and played with her brother and sister. She laughed, she played games, she did all the things she normally does. But when it was time for bed and prayers she got teary again. She walked upstairs to get her devotional that we are reading during Lent, and when she came down, she brought me this:

Bammy is in the middle, with the heart on her shirt. She is saying, "Papa Tango!" which is what the kids call my father. My father is standing next to her saying "Mom!" and up in that tree to the right is my grandfather (my mother's father who died while I was pregnant with Jane) who is represented by a cardinal. This is what she drew earlier in the day when she was upstairs for so long. I love that girl.

And I love you too, Barbara Jane. But then, you already knew that.

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