My heart hurts, but not for “MeMa.” I am excited for her; she is healed and is dancing on the streets of gold and praising her Savior. My heart hurts for the hundreds, yea thousands of people that she influenced and touched with her life. There are so many that are hurting because there is now a void in their lives without this spiritual giant.
My first experience with MeMa was when I was first dating Julia. Julia invited me and a couple of my friends over to her grandparents house one weekend. Not really knowing what to expect, I would have never been able to prepare myself for the woman I was about to meet. From the very first meeting, I knew there was something amazing about this lady. She welcomed us into her home and had us all sit down for lunch. I have never seen a table so full with every type of lunch food you could think of. I am talking sandwich meat, pizza, pimento cheese spread, crackers, pickles, grapes, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, salads, chips, pretzels, etc, etc, etc. I thought, wow, she really went all out for us today. . . little did I know this was just a small lunch meal to her. She filled my face more times than I can count over the years. While we lived in TN, we went over to her house ever Tuesday night and she would send us to the local Sonic Drive-In to buy burgers and when we got back, the table would be loaded down with many of the same fixings from the first lunch. She loved to take care of people!
Every Saturday, the Gene Carman Real Estate Auction crews would fill her home EARLY in the morning before they went out to the auction. She would have a home cooked country breakfast for them and would have lunch waiting for them when they returned. I am not sure I have every seen anyone work so hard to make sure people were fed and taken care of. Even in her later years, she would buy McDonald’s breakfast for everyone every Saturday and they would all come over to her house to eat with her. Her cabinets were always filled with every type of soda pop, fruit juice, bottled water, candy bars, chips, etc. that you could imagine. She always wanted anyone and everyone who stopped in to be fed and refreshed by the time they left.
Another thing that made Mema unique was her ability to lay down the law, but do it in a way that you still loved her when she was done. Going back to the first time I met her, after we ate the feast . . . er . . . I mean, lunch, we went into the living room and one of my friends that was with me propped his feet up, shoes and all, on her couch. She was not impressed, and said something to the effect of “Young man, I know you are not from around these parts, but around here, we respect other people’s homes and do not put our feet up on the furniture.” Of course, silence filled the room, but quickly, my friend’s quick wit and apologetic spirit overtook the silence and everything was fine. It was at that moment that I realized that she was not out to make friends, but was out to teach people the way they should act in public and the way they should treat others.
Julia shared stories with me of when she was younger, Mema would have “potty talks” with her. At first I was thinking . . . what’s a potty talk? . . . That sounds strange . . . “potty talk?” . . . but Julia went on to explain that Mema would take you into the bathroom for privacy when she needed to tell you something important. She would especially have these talks with the granddaughters about all sorts of topics: spiritual life, cleanliness, hair style, emotional needs, etc, etc. When Mema found out that Julia and I were engaged, she called me in for my one and only “potty talk.” She told me that she did not have “In-laws”, only family. She said that she was happy I was joining the family and challenged me to take good care of her beloved granddaughter. I was honored to be part of the family, and have tried to honor Mema’s request in my relationship with Julia every day of our marriage. I am sure I have failed on occasion, but after 13 1/2 years of marriage, I love her more and more every day and always plan to take good care of her.
Another thing I will never forget about Mema is her dedication to her Savior. I can not remember a time that I went to her house that I did not hear the Gospel music station playing. She loved singing and listening to singing about her precious Savior. One of her favorites was the Gather Homecoming specials on TV. I can still see her sitting in her chair, singing and clapping her hands. What a blessing she was! She was also very faithful to church and her Bible reading, next to that chair was always an old worn out copy of the Good Book. She was faithful to church and faithful to her Lord. She leaves a legacy of that faithfulness in her children. She has 5 children, two of the boys are pastors, the other is a deacon, and her two girls are active members in their local churches. When she found out we were going into missions, she would always give us money out of her personal stash. $50 here, $100 there, you never knew what Mema was going to pull out of her purse next. Although she didn’t like that we were leaving her, she loved that fact that we were telling others about her blessed Savior.
It is that legacy that I will never forget, I will never forget it mainly because I live with it every day. She instilled it in her children, and her children instilled it in their children. I am blessed to be reaping the benefits of it as I see Julia instilling it in the fourth generation. Our kids are blessed to have Mema in their family tree. Even though the won’t remember much about her, they will always have her Godly Heritage with them. Proverbs 31:28 says of the virtuous woman “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” I sure wish I could be at the homegoing service to hear her children rise up and call her blessed, what a time of remembrance that will be!
The last time I saw Mema, I told Julia, “she looked tired”. She just looked like she had given everything she had to give, she looked like she needed some rest. I am so thankful that today, she is getting the rest she needs. I am so thankful that she is safe in the arms of Jesus.