For a funeral, it was a nice one. They say she looked good. She represented Auburn to the end, wearing orange and blue—and eagle broach. I understand her artificial smile set off her outfit.
Her kids weren’t enthusiastic about her get-up, but before she died she’d made her wishes were clear.
“The funny thing,” her son says. “She didn’t go to Auburn. None of us did. Actually, I don’t even know if my mother finished high school.”
Truth told, her kids don’t know much about her early days. What they do know, they cherish. Now that she’s gone, they wish they’d asked more questions.
She was the eldest of five. Her mother died young. After her mother passed, she raised them. She changed diapers, prepared suppers, and they say her father was too familiar with her.
“When she married my dad,” he says. “She was twenty-five. She’d already reared a family at that age. My uncles and aunts all treated her like their mother.”
She had a good adult life. She bore three kids, made sack lunches, and knew her way around an oven roast. To her children she’s a saint.
“My mother never got mad,” he says. “Like when I got arrested for driving drunk. Mother came to pick me up. She never even addressed it. I’m sure she was was upset, but she just told me, ‘Son, I forgive you.’”
She forgave him so intensively, she made him paint their entire two-story home using a paintbrush and Campbell’s soup can.
“She adored my dad,” he adds. “He was like her second shot at a normal life. To make up for her childhood, Dad was so good to her. He let her be herself.”
And thats how she came to show interest in Auburn football. The couple worshiped the SEC calendar. She started pulling for the Tigers to tease her husband—a committed Alabama fan. On the weekends, she’d aggravate the stew out of him by wearing Auburn colors.
He’d pick on her.
When he developed dementia, the games became important rituals. She’d visit his assisted living facility on weekends for gameday. And as long as she wore her colors, he recognized her.
“The day of her funeral,” he goes on. “We all wore orange and blue. Dad even wore a bright orange jacket and blue tie. I’d never seen him wear those colors before.
“We all felt kinda ridiculous. But when she told us what colors she wanted to be buried in… I dunno, if she could’a seen us, reckon we would’a made her proud.”
I reckon you would have.
Chris McCarthy - January 18, 2017 5:02 pm
I also picked up a son after a DUI incident. My utterance was “what were you thinking?”. When the summer cleared I also bought the paint and put him on the ladder. The kid is a great man now and a good son. The mom playbook is in you if you just keep focused on getting kids to grow up with the idea of cause and effect.
Shannon - January 18, 2017 11:41 pm
This was a great read! Really interesting.
Hate to be that guy, but there’s a word missing in the first line of the fourth paragraph. It reads “Truth told, her kids don’t much…” right now. ?
Mary - January 19, 2017 7:54 pm
Read it again. It is correct as it stands. Maybe you just have to be from the rural south to “get” it.
Shannon - January 19, 2017 8:08 pm
It has been corrected since I posted this (the word “know” was missing). And, for your info, I AM from the rural South and graduated from Auburn. You shouldn’t be so quick to judge!
Cheryl Vance - January 19, 2017 4:14 am
Your writings touch my heart, every single day.
Dotti - December 7, 2017 6:42 pm
I’m happy that my daughter introduced me to your writing and look forward to reading more. Thank you, A Southern Mom.