Over the years, I have often looked for greeting cards to fit a Jerry-Springer-worthy family line, but was at a loss to find anything that didn’t sound generic or fake.
Some of you grew up with Leave It To Beaver households…and I was envious of you.
There isn’t a sitcom or movie I can think of that would come close to portraying the branches (crooked, broken, grafted, and even thrown away) of our family tree.
Let’s face it. I have had three stepmothers. That’s hard to buy for around Mother’s Day, especially when I still like one of them.
One of the best laughs I’ve ever had was when my little sister introduced me as our dad’s first wife’s kid.
Everyone is pretty good now, don’t get me wrong, but in the 30+ years I have walked down a greeting card aisle, my emotions have greatly varied.
First, I need to take Mother’s Day 2002 and put it in a box. We are going to seal it with not only duct tape, but also coat it with some of that glue that holds the man’s helmet to a crane (infomercial).
The weather that Saturday was much like yesterday in Alabama, sunny, beautiful, and almost too hot, even in the shade. My grandmother’s family (Chambers) had an annual family reunion at Tannehill State Park, where I had spent countless days during my childhood.
Their mother had died on Mother’s Day. So, the family gathered on that weekend for their reunion each year, near McCalla, or Raimond Heights, where they grew up.
Don’t be sad, though. Elma Garner Chambers was a fine woman, who married in 1918, and raised eight red-headed, God-honoring children, who truly did value her far above rubies.
I never knew her, but I had read a lot about her…and I’d heard stories from my great aunts and uncles. It was obvious of the legacy she and my great-grandfather left every time this family gathered. You could see it in lives of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Except our little branch had some tape around it, and it wasn’t bearing fruit from all sides. My precious grandmother was the only one who had children who divorced. I think she felt less than her brothers and sisters sometimes because of this.
She is the only one living now.
She used to tell me I would be the one to make it. She believed in my first marriage, and maybe because she raised me for about half my life, thought I would be the one to break the mold.
That Saturday in 2002, her eyes darted from me and the girls, to my first husband, who walked around away from the crowd with his cell phone most of the day. She told me something was wrong and that he was acting different – suspicious.
“Oh, Mawmaw! He’s just talking to his friends. They are going to play golf later.”
She did not believe me.
The reunion ended and the girls and I headed home alone. Melody was only three months old, and Morgan was 3 1/2.
My husband did not come home that night. Frantically, I called his mom and the three friends he played golf with the day before.
One of the guys told me they had not played golf on Saturday.
You know that feeling when all the air leaves your lungs, and for a moment even sound escapes your ears?
I get ready for church on Mother’s Day, 2002. I take my two little girls to our country church and sit on our pew…no cards, no breakfast, no photos – only brokenness.
The rest of the story doesn’t need to be told here. Not of the amethyst earrings I received later that day, in an apology I actually believed and accepted, only to discover another woman – a girl, really – had received pearl earrings and a necklace from that same Parisian credit account that bought my birthstone earrings (that I paid).
She got her present when he left the family reunion early. She got hers first.
Did I mention I had a newborn baby?
For years, I have allowed this trauma and memory to taint every mother’s day weekend, even after God restored to me a loving, loyal husband who did not abandon me.
I had just decided to hate the holiday because I wasn’t sure I would ever fully trust anyone again.
It was my note to self: Don’t get too emotional or caught up in a man-made holiday, only to let it be destroyed by the hands of a man.
Who knows. I’m SURE I needed therapy.
A memory can do a lot of damage or it can shackle you to the past – IF you let it.
I gave away almost 15 years of Mother’s Day Sundays to a distant memory, and let it sometimes overshadow the love I received from my husband and daughters.
Please tell me someone got deliverance from this story, and that I’ve saved you from a lifetime of regret, because I would hate to know I was an idiot for nothing.
Yesterday, I did something shocking (for me) and left at 6:45am, accepting an invitation to go somewhere with friends.
I had no clue what Pepper Place was, or that I was going to be outside on a beautiful day surrounded by a million things that reminded me of my grandmother.
No, downtown Birmingham is nothing like Tannehill State Park, but what those people bring into the city, to sell from tables and tents, was actually all in my front yard at mawmaw’s house.
On her kitchen table.
In her flower beds.
In their garden.
In her canning room.
In her art room.
By the woodpile.
Across the front porch.
And in her arms.
May 12, 2018 – that same Alabama sunshine and blue sky was over me just like in 2002.
An almost permanent storm cloud developed in my heart, but yesterday it cleared my mind, warmed my skin, and reminded me there are always people who love you.
You must forget about those that didn’t, even if they continue to bring storm after storm your way. Just put on a raincoat. Enjoy your day.
Thank You: Michelle, Emily, and the other six who know. ❤️
▫️🔻▫️Pepper Place Market▫️🔻▫️