Friday, July 24, 2015

My Memaw and My Mom

My Memaw passed away and I love her very very much.

Growing up with friends primarily in the Midwest, I didn’t hear a lot of people call their grandmother “Memaw,” which is by all accounts a silly word. Memaw’s real name was JoJean which is also a silly name. In her world Target was Tar-Je, Jezebel was Jezzie, my friend Pedro was Paco/Pancho/Padre and Buca di Beppo was never called the same name twice. She kept trying to get Benedict Cumberbatch’s name right, even to the point where she called me to say she tried to study his name in People.

While her mind did suffer near the end, this naming convention was always part of her life. This is how she saw the world. Memaw was a very joyful person who had great love for everyone she met. When I was younger I always felt special in her eyes; I didn’t need to be good at sports, I just needed to keep doing the dumb little things I was doing. She made everyone feel welcome and would go out of her very Southern way to make everyone feel accommodated like how she kept subscribing to magazines she didn’t read so she could give them away. Or maintaining a pool she couldn’t swim in.

After Pa passed away, I called her more often so she wouldn’t feel so alone. She would want to know what I was up to in Chicago and marvel that there can be comedy teams who can make up an entire show on the spot. She always wanted to make sure the weather was okay. She would ask about all the friends by name (or a close approximation). She would also want to know when the “good Sherlock” was going to be back on so she could sit two inches away from the large television and be engulfed by the types of mysteries she has adored her entire life. She would ask if I was writing. Then she would ask about the weather again.

Memaw was sick my entire life. For the past 10 years I’ve treated every visit to Texas as my last with her. The tragic drive back was always worth the journey to because of her glorious company and the world she created. This is the Austin I know more than hipsters and food trucks. Memaw does live on because kindness transcends time. I see her kindness in her children, in her grandchildren and everyone who has come in contact with her.

My mom has spent so much time taking care of her parents. It has been incredibly difficult every time especially when she lives across the country. She has sacrificed so much to be with those in their hardest hours because of her love for family. I was with her for three months in Texas when Pa passed away. It’s such a difficult and strange thing to go through and it just makes me admire my mom that much more that she was willing to do it again in harder circumstances. She continues to look for the sweet way to approach things with the help of her adorable puppy and her absurdly PG approach to profanity.

This is only a fraction of what makes up these two women but it’s what I can’t stop thinking about right now. For Memaw is gone and one day my mom will be gone too. But their kindness will always live on.

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