Friday, May 7, 2010

Always Special. Never Simple.

Attention FRIDAY FOLLOWERS, you're in the right place. Please keep reading or scroll to the bottom for button and comments. Thanks!

This was my second post ever...originally posted on February 17th.   I was compelled to post it again in memory of my mother, Sunday being Mother's Day and all...

"Shoes?" Check.

"Dress?" Check.

"Hose?" Check.

"Extra hose?" (sigh...) Check.

"Thirty pounds of pulled pork bar-b-que with outside meat and extra sauce?" Check.

"Twenty quarts of Brunswick Stew?"

"How do you expect us to get all this on the plane?"

"STEW?" (sigh...) Check.

"Four crates of peaches?"

"California is the leading peach grower in the country. We don't need to take more peaches into the state."

"They are not Jawja peaches!"

"Yes, ma'am."

Thus my brother's rehearsal dinner the night before his wedding was unlike any rehearsal dinner before or since. And it was beautiful. A complete barbeque meal (Not a barbecue beef in sight!) basically catered by my brother and his buddies' favorite restaurant located only 2500 miles away as a special surprise to him.


My mother also requested the church hostess, who was responsible for setting everything up, to serve water and sweet tea. The hostess repeated the words slowly, "ssswweeett tttteeaa?"

Apparently people in Yukaipa, California, who are we kidding? no one west of the Mississippi had heard of sweet tea.

The hostess recovered slightly and said "Oh, out here we offer artifical sweetner packets with the tea beverage but very few people use it."

To which Mama replied, "And how many people drink iced tea out there?" (I love how she always referred to any place outside of Georgia as being 'out there' like it was on another planet).

"Very few, ma'am. We mostly drink bottled water or hot tea."

"That's because you people don't sweeten it."

I don't know why Mama didn't just tell her how much sugar to add but I heard the hostess called a friend in Kentucky to ask her how to make sweet tea.


My husband coined this phrase to describe my mom after we had been married about six years. He had no idea how perfectly this phrase encapsulated the woman's entire life.
But for him, it took root when we moved our family from Georgia to Ft. Worth, Texas with a three year old, two year old and six month old in tow...and my mother. My father committed suicide just a couple of months prior to our moving. We considered postponing our plans. We were going west for Jody to go to seminary, and we talked and prayed about waiting until the following semester.

Mama wouldn't hear of it.

"Your father wouldn't want you to disrupt your plans. And it would be good for me to get away awhile."

"I'm sorry. Could you repeat that last part?"

"It would be good for me to get away awhile."

"What does that mean?"

"Honey(for emphasis)I'll go with y'all and fly back. You can't handle those babies by yourself all that way. I'll watch them while you drive."


Jody and I looked at each other. He turned ecru (that's off-white I think).
He shook his head back and forth so slowly I wasn't sure if he was saying "don't think about it" or if he was trying to coax a fly to land on his head. I assumed the latter.

" great! Wouldn't it dear?"

He apparently went to chase the fly because he started running around the yard, waving his warms wildly and calling out something to the fly. Fortunately, I couldn't make out the words.

We TIGHTLY packed six years worth of belongings, three carseats and all the paraphanelia one would need to occupy two toddlers, one infant, and a mother-in-law for a twelve hour ride. There was not an inch of leftover space in the moving truck or car, and five minutes before we pulled out Mama dramatically and ceremoniously took two GIANT vinyl tote bags out of her car and presented them to our older children. She hugged them close and told them the bags were filled with games, toys, snacks and wrapped surprises. They could open a surprise at every stop we made and every time we crossed a state line. I wondered if we should leave the TV or the microwave behind in order to make room for the two "Barney Bags". After some quick measurements and figuring I decided the TV and microwave were both luxury items we could do without. Jody was chasing the fly again.

After many long hours Mama started talking to me about a restaurant she's always wanted to try at Natchez Trace.


I had no idea what she was talking about or even what she said.

"Natchez Trace, Mississippi. There's the sign. Its not far."

"Mama, this is not a pleasure trip. We looked at the map and I-20 goes directly from Dallas, GA to Dallas, TX. Its a straight shot. No detours are necessary."

"ok. Its just your Daddy and I always talked about going to Natchez Trace and now we'll never go."

So we veered south toward Natchez Trace to the tune of "Not much farther; its the next exit; we're almost there!"

I began noticing steam coming from the moving truck. Not from the engine but from the driver's window.

NINETY MILES later we passed a sign that read "Welcome to historic Natchez Trace".

"Where's the place, Mama?"

"Oh, I don't know exactly but it can't be that hard to find."

I noticed steam billowing from the driver's window in the moving van. Suddenly the truck pulled into a parking lot and Jody emerged from the steam. He slammed the door, walked around to the passenger's side to remove Brad and then through gritted teeth said "Move over." And I did.

"Well, there it is!" Mama was pointing across the street at a beautiful Antebellum house with a large sign on the porch that read "Closed on Mondays". Yesterday was Sunday.

"I'm saawry". No one could say those words like she could. We still say it in her beautiful Southern drawl when we truly want to make that point.

"I think there's a place down by the river that is supposed to be good."

We rode in silence and found it and it was.


Even her death, two years ago today, carried out this philosophy. She elected to have a surgery she knew would most likely kill her and the doctor told us once she opened her up and saw what she did she also knew Mama would not make it and almost changed her mind. But the doctor looked at us, with tears in her eyes and said "Your mama was a special lady and she said she would rather die than to live like this. So I did the best I could."

Just like she would have wanted. Very dramatic. Not unlike something you would see in a Hallmark movie. And then we sang. Family and friends circled her bed, held hands and sang her into the arms of Jesus. The mylar balloon my brother gave her for Valentine's with the words "I love you" bounced behind her, or was it in front of her?

Always special. Never simple.

Handmade Valentine's, birthday parties that none of the neighborhood kids will ever forget, Christmas treats that are now Facebook discussion topics, and oh! the trips!
What I wouldn't give to hear her say one more time "I'm saaawwryy."

I think her first words in heaven must have been "Why this is bee-u-ti--ful! You do serve sweet tea, right?"


Friday Follow


  1. I am speechless and have tears running down my face. You captured mother's spirit perfectly! She was definitely "always special, never simple" and although it drove us CRAZY sometimes, we loved her for it! Love you!

  2. Your Mama, which I will assume to have been eerily similar to mine, was absolutely right. Pork and peaches from anywhere but here among the human beings is awful. Nobody else in the union knows how to make BBQ. Sugar doesn't help their tea very much either.

  3. Oh Leanne, thanks for sharing this wonderful story. Sounds like your mama was a classy southern lady :)

  4. She sounds like such a character! I love her already :) And it took me a few minutes to get the "jawja peaches" thing!

  5. Oh wow, that is a glorious memory. Thank you for sharing.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  6. Dropping by from Friday Follow. Great tribute to your mom! I'm a southern girl myself and couldn't stop laughing. :D

  7. Hi there.
    Loved your post!
    I'm stopping by from Friday Follow to say hello.
    Have a great Friday!

  8. What a wonderful tribute to your Mama... who sounds like so many other great Southern ladies I know.
    It's good that you see these memories as great moments in your time together!
    I'm your latest follower through FF! I hope you'll stop by my blog at and say hello.

  9. Such a beautiful post to your Mother..I just lost my Mother too so I feel the pain with you~Sending hugs your way this Mother's Day!


    Following from Friday Follow

    You can find me here~


  10. Thank you Leanne for sharing your mother with me today. As much as mothers drive you nuts, it's what made them who they are/were. Your mama was one of a kind, just like mine. I have a post coming on Sunday all about mine but I'm one of the lucky ones, she's still here to be loved and give love.
    I'm your newest follower, at the moment that is. Have a great and blessed weekend. Take care.

  11. What a great post thanks so much for sharing. I am a new follower from Friday Follow, so glad to have found your blog. Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!


  12. oh my goodness - you write so well! I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much for finding me today and following - I'm following you as well! -diane

  13. Aw, such a sweet tribute. Happy Mother's Day! Thanks so much for joining in for Friday Follow, too.


  14. What a lovely story. I have tears in my eyes as I think of my deceased mom.
    Have a special Mother's Day dear lady.
    Here for Friday Follow.

  15. Hi there! I just stopped by from the links at a Friday Follow site.

    What a great post this was! Such a sweet tribute to your mom.

    I am hosting a Mother's Day Giveaway on my blog, so I do hope you will stop by and enter!


  16. What a special story about your mother! Just beautiful! Coming over from Friday Follow and glad I did!

  17. What a beautiful story! And I must say I came here from Friday Follow because the title of your blog is hands down hilarious.

    Following and look forward to blogging with you!

  18. Hi! I'm a new follower of your lovely blog.

    Have a nice day!

  19. Came over from Friday Follow like many because your blog name is chills from the story of the doctor saying she did the best she could because your Mom would rather die than life like that. I'm a Southern girl myself (born in Louisiana, raised in MS), and I had total culture shock when I moved to CO during college. Almost more than when we moved to China 2 years ago to teach English. Not many places like the South!


  20. I had to laugh about the sweet tea. My husband is from NC and when we lived in PA for a few years, he would always ask for it and get blank looks!

    I'm returning the follow from FF.

  21. What a great phrase! Sweet post. Thanks for sharing!
    504 Main

  22. That's such a lovely post - I can hear how much you loved her even in those little moments of frustration.

  23. these are beautiful memories of your mother...thank you so much for sharing!

  24. I am following you from Friday Follow.

    Jeanette Huston

  25. Thank you for sharing this. So, so beautiful.

  26. Ma'am, that was just lovely.


  27. I just had to follow your link from your Wednesday Walk (May 12, 2010) to here so I could read about your momma. Oh what a fine classy lady she musta been. You did that so well I do believe I could almost hear her myself. What wonderful memories you have of her. Yep. Bet God is havin' a good time with her and the sweet tea.

    {hugz} and blessings to you! Thank you for sharing her with us! I woulda liked to known her for sure!


"Thank you, and do come back now, ya heah?"
(No she didn't...yes she did.)