Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day without my mom. It was also her birthday. Mama would have been 97 if she had just made it a few short weeks longer, although to be honest, she was never all that big on celebrating her birthday, anyway… She just liked the fact that we all got together for it, and of course we all liked the fact that there was cake involved!
It was a bittersweet day, with an emphasis on the ‘sweet.’ It was also my first Mother’s Day as a full-fledged resident of Bell Buckle, and it started with a 7:30 a.m. walk around town all by myself. It was a sleepy Sunday morning, and with the exception of a couple of cars and a stray dog or two, I appeared to be the only one out and about. I am still firmly in the honeymoon phase of our move, and just about every single thing in my new little hometown enchants me. I carried my coffee mug with me on my walk, and sipped and strolled and peered in the dark windows of the shops on the Square, stopping to pet the gray cat that followed me down the street. She has officially taken up residence on the OUTSIDE of our new house, earning herself the name “Porch Cat.” I am mightily allergic, and not happy about all the hair she sheds all over my wicker cushions, but Porch Cat will not be deterred– which thrills my cat-deprived Charlotte to no end. Anyway, PC headed back up the street to shed some more, and I continued on, winding around the neighborhood, listening to the birds and the train that comes through about 5 times a day. It is my new favorite sound in the world, and I have to respectfully disagree with Johnny Cash on this one point–a train whistle is not at all lonesome, to me it’s actually downright cozy!
In the afternoon, the four of us walked down to the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall, where we were treated to an absolutely delicious Mother’s Day buffet by the owner, our new friend and neighbor J. Gregory Heinike. He also owns the Bell Buckle Cafe and Bell Buckle Records, home to one of Madi Rose’s favorite bluegrass singers, Valerie Smith (who apparently lives right around the corner from us, though we haven’t spied her yet despite a couple of sloooow drive-bys…) It was such a sweet way to welcome us to town, and we appreciate his hospitality so much.
I thought of Mom so often yesterday, and Daddy, too. They would love this all so much! I can just hear Mom exclaiming over the jaw-droppingly gorgeous and HUGE willow oak tree about a half a block from our front porch, that has to be over 200 years old if it’s a day. And Daddy would have been in heaven at that buffet yesterday– I could just picture him tucking into a heaping plate of his favorite prime rib with a big smile on his face and an eye towards the dessert table, which was crowded with blackberry cobbler, a brownie sundae bar and three-layer strawberry cake. That’s the thing about being so close to my parents, and having them both live to such wonderfully ripe old ages– I know them so well, I know how much this would all delight them. It makes me miss them even more, but it also makes me smile to be able to picture their reactions, and that comforts me. And besides, to paraphrase something I heard Garrison Keillor say on the Prairie Home Companion Show the other day, “Being a 56 year-old orphan doesn’t garner all that much sympathy.”
I thought of something else a lot yesterday, too. Years ago, my sweetest friend Bonnie Keen and I wrote a song together called “These Are The Women I Come From.” It was a tribute to all of the strong women in our lives that shaped and inspired us, and it was recorded on a project called “Sisters- Songs of Friendship, Joy and Encouragement for Women” that was released in 1994. I haven’t listened to it in a long time, but recently the lyrics came flooding back to me and I actually printed them out to read at Mama’s funeral. Coincidentally, Bill Gaither called me a couple of weeks after that to say he wanted to use the song in an upcoming video shoot, which was a nice surprise. And then today I just happened to come across this amazing YouTube clip of last year’s Mother’s Day service at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ. They used our song along with a narration that Gloria Gaither did at the front of it, to honor their own Church Mothers in such a beautiful presentation– granted, I was already feeling a little tender, but this reduced me to trembly-chin-hiccupy-tears!
Wanted to share it with you guys. I thought their ending was especially moving– (and it’s REALLY better if you click the whole-screen button, too.)
Hope your Mother’s Day was full of good food, good memories and a couple of smiling-through-tears moments, too.
(The lyrics, as requested!)