Mom: You make me so happy. You always know exactly what you are doing and you do it right every time.
I really want to marry you … but, I don’t know whether that’s right or not?
Me to myself: (Wow! A moment of clarity! Finally mom’s brain is seeing reason.)
Mom: I am only six, so I’m not sure if my daddy will let me marry you.
Me to myself: (Listen to your daddy, mom. Listen to your daddy.)
Post Script: This is not the first time mom has expressed her desire to marry me. I first wrote about this in my blog post, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, Just Not Quite the Way Mom Sees It.
And, it’s not the first time mom has said she is six: Girls Lie About Their Age.
Mom’s mother died when mom was only six years old. Mom was the youngest of four and her mother’s sudden, unexpected death had a profound impact on her and how she has lived her life.
When her mother was carried down the steps of their home on a stretcher for the last time, she reached for my mom’s hand, held it tightly and whispered, “Be good and be strong. You are my little angel.”
And, that has been mom’s credo and mission her entire life. Be good. Be strong.
Her mother’s last words to her were, “I love you, sugar.”
Mom was raised by a brilliant, no-nonsense, God fearing, general practitioner who started his career as a horse and buggy country doctor in Richmond, Virginia. As the city grew westward, my grandfather’s practice and investments made him a wealthy man.
He loved his children, and ruled with an iron hand. He taught them values and was a pillar of strength. There was no misunderstanding my grandfather. You knew what was right and was was wrong. Good and strong were not options in this family … they were expected.
Thanks to mom’s aunts (her mother’s sisters) she had plenty of loving, strong women who helped raise her to become both good and strong.
Her father made sure each of his children was provided for, had great educations, and knew where they were going in life. Her sister, Fanny, was a teacher before becoming a minister’ s wife. Her brother, Hunter, was a lawyer and her other brother, Berk, followed in his father’s footsteps and joined his practice before continuing his education and pursuing a career as an ophthalmologist.
Then there’s the little one, my little stick of dynamite of a mom, Helen. She could have been a CEO for any organization in the world … she was an energy source, a leader, a creative thinker, a visionary, my mentor and my role model. She, like her sister, married a minister, and her leadership complimented my father’s and they were an amazing team. When these two strong and good people joined forces, it was a powerful combination that made a difference in the lives and communities they served!
And, they both played leading roles in putting my younger sister, Nel, and me on this earth and guiding us to become leaders, and players on their team. Strong and good. It was embedded in our minds, hearts and souls.
Of all the people mentioned in this Post Script, only mom and I are left standing. It is a strange feeling. An indescribable feeling of loneliness.
“Be good and be strong. You are my little angel.”
For me, these whispered words become a connection of the past, present and future, and they somehow blend into a bittersweet mix of mandate, melancholy and comfort.
We may not be “right” for marriage (Listen to your daddy, mom. Listen to your daddy.), but mom and I have a lifelong bond … a tie that binds us together forever.
It is a death-do-us-part-bond of unconditional love, mutual admiration and acceptance. We are here, now, for each other.
Be good and be strong. Be good and be strong. Be good and be strong.