It's almost Christmas, and then comes the new year. Much like everyone else around this time of year, I find myself reflecting on the passed months and start to think about the ones ahead. To put it blatantly, it's been a difficult year at best. Back in July, I put up a post about my Grandma who had passed away unexpectedly up in Ontonagon, Michigan. However, I never made a post about my Mamaw Lois who also passed away 1 short month before my Grandma did. At the time, it was far too painful to write about her. She was one of my closest friends. I'd like to take today, Christmas Eve, to honor Mamaw's memory by sharing some of what I read aloud at her funeral service. I've tried to, but can't seem to say it any better than I did then.
When I think of Mamaw, and I think others will agree when I say this, I remember that she was a YES Woman. Rarely would you ever ask her something where the answer wouldn't be yes.
Although I know she really didn’t want to, I remember Mamaw Lois saying "YES" to 8 year old Travis, 10 year old me and 14 year old Chrissy when we wanted to go outside to play in the snow in the dead of winter. She’d throw her hands up, "Fine, go out there. I don't care if you freeze to death," she would say. Little did she know, us kids were completely immune to her reverse psychology tricks, and so we took her up on her offer of freezing, and we joyfully went outside to play. When we would return with tears in our eyes and stories spilling out of our mouths of how we had hit and beat each other with wooden spoons that were actually meant for digging, she would not shout at us with anger like you might think. She would smile and laugh. The slight anger and annoyance that had been in her voice before would be gone, and she would clean us up, readying us for our next adventure.
And I remember Mamaw Lois saying YES to supporting our dreams of becoming professional crafters. She would take us shopping for supplies at Michaels. Us grandkids had this harebrained idea that we, as small children, could actually make a decent living selling handmade crafts with nothing more than some lace, wooden hearts, acrylic paint, and premade wreaths. Mamaw Lois would let us pick out our supplies and when we were short the cash at the checkout register, she would cover us…knowing she’d never see a dime of that money again. We would all return to her house and diligently start building our crafty masterpieces. After a day of hard, laborious work, we would have our finished pieces at hand, but then realize that we had no market base in which we could sell them…other than Mamaw Lois, of course. She would compliment our efforts and tell us that our crafts were very pretty and we would interpret her compliments as an interest for a cash transaction. Let’s just say that any money we ever made from our hideous crafts came from Mamaw Lois.
I remember Mamaw Lois also saying "YES" to adventure and things like site seeing, traveling, and even simpler things like thrift store shopping and Elvis memorabilia collecting. She loved Elvis. But she said yes to life, and by doing so, she influenced others around her to want to say yes too.
Her eldest son of 3, Larry, is a self-taught mechanic and electronic mad man genius. Her second oldest son, Danny, has had a successful military career and is now a top executive for his company. And her youngest son, Gary, is a self-taught musician who has worked for a family owned business for over 30 years.
Those 3 boys went on to have children of their own, all of which have also been influenced by Mamaw and her Do It Yourself take on life. My cousin, Chrissy, is a mother of 3 and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Business Administration. My brother, Travis, will be starting is college career in just a couple short weeks, hoping to one day make films. I graduated with a fine arts degree and have a successful career as a Graphic Designer for a publishing company. Our younger cousins have not yet begun their life journeys but because of the values and the DIY attitude that Mamaw Lois has instilled in us all, I know that they will go on to have bright, fruitful futures.
After you leave here today, and you settle into your homes tonight and watch some tv…or eat a scoop of ice cream, I’d like you to think of Mamaw Lois as doing the same. Do not think of the elements in this world that took her-don’t give them a single second of thought, but instead, picture her at the kitchen table wearing her beloved red housecoat. Underneath that, her favorite silk pajamas. She’s drinking her White Castle decaf coffee and probably eating a cremehorn, listening to the day you’ve had.
From there, I read Death is Nothing At All from Henry Scott Holland. You can read that poem here, if you like, but today I'd like to leave you with a short film that I found a few weeks ago. Mamaw, I'll think of you today, tomorrow on Christmas and every day after. With me, I'll carry your strength and guidance; although I'm without the same holiday cheer that was always brought out of me by you, I know that one day I'll get it back. Again.