Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fading Flames

Mama, Aunt Phillis, Alice (my mother), and Daddy.
Mama and Daddy were my aunt and mother's parents.
I keep coming back to these old photos and studying them careful. This was taken the year I was born and what you see in this photo is what I always saw. Oh, there were terrible times and things I'd like to forget. Like everyone else, they did stupid things. They cried and got angry and depressed but if there are any good memories of my life, this photo reflects them. They always seemed to be laughing.

This image also reflects any gatherings of my family. We usually end up laughing at something and often it involves a story from the lives of one of these people or something one of us has done. We are a family of natural humorist. We are funny without trying to be funny. And we laugh most at ourselves.

This morning it occurred to me that this photo also depicts the three women who most profoundly affected my life and directed its  course. These women determined my outlook, my character and my goals. They made me most of who I am today, good and bad. I can't imagine what my life would have become without them. They gave me the strength to survive trials and turmoil and grief and continue laughing, even through tears. They gave me a desire to become more. I love them, each in a slightly different way but far more than any of them could guess.

Mama would say, "My Cindy can do anything." My aunt always says, "You are so smart." My mother always said, "I'm proud of you." I had no idea who they were talking about. I wanted to be like all of them to one degree or another. I wanted to love the way Mama loved. I wanted to be the kind of Godly women Mama and my aunt were. I wanted to be as beautiful as my mother, to have that presence that made heads turn when you enter a room. She drew people like moths to a flame. I always thought if I could have inherited the best qualities of these three women I could shake the world. I do not think I've ever approached that goal.

I can't say my mother and I were close. Her parents raised me but I still loved her, with bitterness and then, with resignation. I loved her humor, her laughter, and her singing. She had a beautiful voice and I loved riding in the car with her and listening to her and Mama sing gospel songs. They'd let us kids sing with them but those two voices were about as close to a heavenly choir that I've ever gotten. I loved her ability to go out job hunting at 8 and come back with a job at 10.

Put her in a crowded room with boring people and where she was standing would be a party. When she was a waitress her customers were the happiest in the room. It was not unusual for her to carry home $200 in tips for an evening's work and that was in the 70's. People just flocked to her and she reveled in that. When I was a little girl and she came home from time to time, I loved the moments when I was the focus of that dazzling smile and I felt the warmth of that flame. I was special for a little while and when she left, I always missed her.

Thursday I will see her one last time. The flame of my mother's life is extinguished. She's left me again.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your mother.

  2. Thank you for sharing the photo and your memories with us. My heart is sad for you and what you will go through on Thursday. I'm glad what you remember most are smiles and laughter! Hugs & love.

  3. That is a lovely photo and has given you happy memories. Our lives are as they are. Nothing that we can do to change what was, or what is. You have the memories of those happier times and they will sustain you through what is to come. I will be thinking of you on Thursday. Do not beat yourself up over things that were not your fault and cannot be changed.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. Will be thinking of you on thursday.

  5. what a lovely homage... you need to remind yourself to re-read this post, from time to time.
    I certainly hope that when I'm gone, I've left such a positive impression on someone, that they feel the way about me, that you do about these women.

  6. What a lovely tribute to your dear ones. And I think you are more like each of them in the ways you hoped than you realize.

  7. I agree this is a lovely tribute to the women who shaped your life. Sending you strength for Thursday and every day.

  8. Such a beautiful tribute! As I was reading your post my eyes kept going back to the photo..you picked a perfect picture to share. I'm so sorry for your loss, you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. The three woman did a good job. You are a bit of each of them, plus the addition of yourself. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I am grateful you are able to make the trip to close the farewell, though she will always be present in your life.

  10. this is a lovely way to remeber the women in your life, I hope by the time this year ends, you find yourself in a happier frame of mind.


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