When I started doing holiday dinners at my house I think I really pushed the limits of my husbands patience with me. I wanted every corner of the house scrubbed and polished so it shined when our guest arrived. Each picture that hung on the wall was removed so that I could clean the glass and polish the frame. Every little tchotchke was placed on the counter for a good washing. My normal laid back attitude changed to one of a woman crazed, obsessive and cranky to boot! Honestly sometimes I wonder how he put up with me at times. He would remind me that the ones coming were family and that they were not going to look under the beds to see if I had run the vacuum under them. What he didn't understand was that I wanted everything to be special and that for me that it was in the details.
Momma seemed to do all this so effortlessly through the years. I remember her being teased about how clean her home was by my Uncle Leon, he would reach up to the top of the kitchen cupboards and wipe his hand along the edge and tell her that he found a spot she missed. She would laugh at him and give him a little smack on the arm. The next day though she would be on the stepping stool wiping it down. Such a silly little memory, I know.
Everything Momma did was done with a servants heart. So many times she would offer to help me with whatever I was doing and I would refuse. It wasn't because I didn't want her help, it was because I let my pride get in my way. Gosh darn it – it was my dirt and I didn't think it was right to have anyone else have to deal with it. I'm still that way now, but I am trying to work on the pride thing. One time in particular that I'll never forget took place not long after I had had a major heart attack. I had been complaining to her about how difficult it was for me to do things because I would get worn out so fast. When she offered to help me I refused once again. Even today, 10 years later, her words to me that day ring in my head: “Terri – did you every consider that by letting me help you, you are giving me a gift?” - Whoa – my brain went numb for a moment at her words, I responded with: “But, it's not right for you to feel you have to come do this for me – you have so much of your own to do.” In her calm, but strong voice she responded: “But, Terri, by refusing me you are denying me the joy of giving my time to you. You complain to me all the time about the kids not letting you help them when you offer, but you do the same thing.” Well what could I say – she was right.
After Momma's memorial service so many people came over to me and expressed how she had “stood in the gap” for them or for a family member. One lady told me how my folks would go out of the way to pick up her mother and take her places when she no longer could drive. Over and over I heard these remarks. They were things that I did not know about, but, were not a surprise. Many people say - “If you need anything just let me know” - My Momma never waited to be asked she was just there doing whatever needed to be done and always with a joyful heart.
There are little things we do that seem insignificant to us at the time, but we do them to please the ones we love. Momma kept a bowl of gumdrops on the coffee table. She bought them in 5# bags because we would gobble them up when we visited. We laughed about how even the hospice nurses would sit and talk with her and munch on gumdrops. So of course we kept the bowl full. We take so many things for granted thinking they will always be there for us.
In spite of my obsessive behavior in preparing for company I was not the only one in the house that paid attention to the details. Darrell had gone to the store and when he returned he had a big grin on his face. One large bag was filled with an assortment of candies, just like Momma always did. He pulled out a bag of chocolate cover peanuts and declared: “Mom always has chocolate covered peanuts and we're going to do that too!”
I learned a great deal from Momma without even knowing I was being taught. After
that first big meal at my house she handed me the Bible and told me to read this story from Luke 10:38-42. Uggg I thought – she always does this to me and the part that gets me is that it always works.