"That's not a hair-do, lady, that's a hair don't..."
Buford the Buzzard, an obnoxious puppet character at Six Flags Amusement Park, said that to my grandmother one time in the mid-90s, during one of our many family trips there. The entire family nearly fell on the ground laughing, as did the rest of the audience.
|Buford wasn't necessarily wrong...|
Nobody laughed harder than my Mamaw.
In the decade and a half since then, I don't know that I've ever visited her house when someone didn't crack that joke. Usually her.
We buried my Mamaw yesterday. I didn't get asked to speak at her funeral, probably because my family knew I would make that joke. That's okay. Although I know my Mamaw wouldn't have minded if I did.
When Mamaw was diagnosed with end-stage cancer a few weeks ago we knew she didn't have long to live. Because of her faith, she was not sad nor scared at the thought of dying, right to the very end.
I live out of state, but got to visit her one last time at the end of February. We had a wonderful time of sharing and laughing -- my family sitting around her on the couch telling all the old stories once again. Even about ol' Buford the Buzzard.
Sitting there, I looked around Mamaw's house wondering if there was any item of hers I could ask her for to keep as my special memento of her. But even after searching through the whole house I couldn't find anything that gave me that special "Mamaw" feeling I was searching for. (Although I did attempt to make the case that her diamond bracelet would probably come close...)
I left her house with no memento and was quite sad. But on the flight home I realized I was given the object to remind me of her over 39 years ago: her name. She was Betty Jane, I am Mittie Jane.
I am Janie because of her. In more ways than just the name.
My grandmother was loud and opinionated. She laughed a lot and often made inappropriate comments. She was always on the go. Stop me if you know where I'm going with this.
If I am "Calmity Jane" now, not only did the Jane come from her -- so did a lot of the calamity.
I got nearly 40 years with my Mamaw. Everything about me was influenced by her in some way, even though we didn't always see eye to eye. I had her as I grew into a woman, got married, and had my own children. My youngest cousin is not even 10-years-old; she will never know Mamaw the way I was blessed to.
A lifetime of memories. A personality that reflects hers in so many ways. Her name.
No other memento needed.
"So much of me is made of what I learned from you.I know you'll be with me like a handprint on my heart....I do believe I have been changed for the better.And because I knew you, I have been changed for good."
("For Good" from the Broadway musical Wicked)