She had a cadence to her voice. A pattern to her speech. Sublimely Southern in her delivery.
Rarely did she volunteer her opinion. When asked, she chose her words with care. She spoke in a kind of code. Responding indirectly, answering questions not yet asked.
She could cut you down, lift you up, make all clear in a phrase. You’d remember what she said, because you’d feel it, everywhere, all at once. Her words had a way of traveling through your ear, bypassing your brain and attaching themselves to your soul. …or maybe that was just me.
Revealed by her words was a peacefulness which came from the country. Swinging slowly with the breeze. Sipping tea. Rocking in a chair on the porch. Friends with time. At one with the natural rhythms of life. …or maybe that was just her.
She made me feel calm. Safe. Loved. Scratching my back softly she’d sing to me. Sometimes just repeating two words over and over. “Purty baby, purty baby…”
She wasn’t perfect. She had a short temper, like me. No patience for ignorance, like me. Once she decided she didn’t like you, chances are she never would. Like me.
On my stepmother: “MeeMaw, I don’t think she likes you.” “That’s ok baby, better people ‘n her don’t like me.”
On my ex husband: “MeeMaw, what do you think of him?” “I don’t know.” “What do you mean you don’t know? I’ve been married to him for five years.” “I mean, I don’t know. He never says anything more to me ‘n what I wanna hear.”
On me, while married to my ex husband: “What the hell happened to you? You didn’t used to be afraid of nuthin’.”
On my husband who’d cornered her at a family gathering after she’d been diagnosed with bone cancer: “Your husband gave me a sermon today.” “He did?” “He told me I was being selfish for not letting you come and see me…and that every time you get off the phone with me you cry. Like I don’t know you. …but don’t tell him I told you, or he won’t talk to me that way anymore.”
On cigarettes: “I guess I shouldn’t have smoked, but I did so enjoy it.”
On dying: “MeeMaw, are you scared?” “I’ve never done this before baby. Should I be?”
I listened closely when she chose to speak. For as she was fond of saying, it is not a babbling brook, but still water, which runs deep.