Mama: Our Gentle Giant

by Trish Loucas

So powerful was my grandmother's presence in our lives that we speak about her today as though she was still with us. It's been over 33 years since she passed. Mama was a petite lady. She stood about 4' 11." The word I would use to describe her beauty would be "handsome." Her attire was just a simple cotton day dress, in either a floral or striped design, and either sneakers or slippers, usually the latter. She wore her salt and peppered medium length hair pulled back from her face and kept in place with bobby pins. Her loving hands small and dainty were chaffed and calloused from household chores and the rheumatoid arthritis that plagued her in her final years.

Mama only spoke to those outside the family if and when they spoke to her, and just above a whisper. The only time she ever raised her voice was when she stood outside and called out our names loud enough to be heard on the row. The only reason we could hear her soft voice then was because she yelled out to us in a sing-song tone emphasizing the last syllable in a long drawn out high sound.

Even though her parents were sharecroppers, they managed to send her to school. This was either a private or exclusive school since there were few if any public schools for blacks at that time. This education did not interfere with her role as her mother instilled in her that her first responsibility above all, was to her man, her family, and her home and the church. All these things that she did, she did with relish, and zeal.

She was up before the rooster crowed. By sunrise she had already managed to accomplish so much in that tiny four room house. When I look back on those times, I see that the house that I grew up in was no more than a four room, cold water shack. That amazes me.

Mama was always doing something whether it was ironing, sewing, cooking, cleaning or gardening. When her health permitted she also shopped, and she attended church weekly.

One of my fondest memories of my Mama was the sight of her standing in front of the wood stove that heated our house. She would hold a blanket up to capture the warmth from either the wood burning stove, or in not so lean times, the kerosene stove. After getting the blanket to just the right temperature, she would then beckon for us to follow her into our bedroom, the back room in the house. She would then lovingly wrap me and then my brother with one of the piping warm blankets, tell us to say our prayers, turn off the light, always mindful to leave the door open so that we were not in total darkness, wish us a good night, and then left us to quickly fall asleep before the heat had dissipated from the blanket. It's funny though, I don't ever remember ever awakening having to ask her to reheat the blanket during the night.

Mama: Our Gentle Giant by Trish Loucas

© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

TimBookTu Logo

Return to the Table of Contents | Return to Main Page