Today is my grandmother's 92nd birthday. If this gives you any indication of how healthy she is... a few months ago, I walked into a room to find her holding my 33-lb son. And she wasn't sitting. This woman is strong and amazing.
When I think of the quintessential Southern homemaker, I think of MaMa. She managed to become an expert on cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, and most importantly, loving her family.
Mrs. Lois Carr Waddle
Though a stay-at-home mother for many years, she returned to work after my grandfather had a partially-paralyzing stroke. She is usually the one I call when I have a question in any of the domestic domains. I even had her come stay with me a few years ago for what I named "MaMa's Boot Camp" so that she could impart to me all her wisdom.
Even though Courtney and I grew up miles apart from our grandmother, with us being in New Jersey, and MaMa in Mobile, Alabama, I am overwhelmed with sweet memories of our time with her. She would sometimes come to stay with us for as long as two months, and the visits never seemed long enough. (Just to give you a laugh, my mom has quoted me saying the following as we watched MaMa head to the airport..., "It's so easy to say hello but so hard to say goodbye. Tears are falling down my soft cheeks." Yes, even at 3 years old, I was a drama queen.)
When my sister and I were young, MaMa would send hand-made clothes for our Barbie dolls. Yes, that's right. Tiny skirts, tops, pants, ballgowns, and fun outfits...our dolls had the best wardrobe in town. She taught us how to make Chocolate Covered Cherries, which became a holiday tradition. I remember her garden being one of the most peaceful places and yet such an exhilarating oasis to explore. And no grandchild or great-grandchild will ever forget MaMa's voice and her songs that she has sung to all of us over the decades. I tear up every time I see her rocking Carter and singing to him, as I had envisioned that scenario for years. I can't wait to see Grace enjoy her songs as well.
Last summer, I interviewed my grandmother so I could get her stories and life experiences recorded. She grew up in a different era, and her tales make me nostalgic for a more simple lifestyle and a culture long gone. I never tire of hearing about her childhood and early adult years. From lining the bottoms of her shoes with pasteboard during the Great Depression to losing her brother, Jack, in World War II, her life was not easy. But then there are the light-hearted tales such as working for the phone company as a switchboard operator and meeting my grandfather (the details to come). She loves to share that, as a boy, he enjoyed holding onto the back of a horsedrawn ice wagon so it could pull him on rollerskates through the streets of Mobile. MaMa is full of wisdom, humor, and knowledge that only years of life can nurture.
Over the next year, I hope to devote monthly posts to my grandmother to share her stories, tips, recipes, song lyrics, and talents. I always find it interesting to learn about the lives of "ordinary" people, and I know you'll love her stories and anecdotes. I hope that the posts will honor MaMa, celebrate her life, and allow her legacy to extend beyond our family.
Happy 92nd Birthday, MaMa!