DISPATCHES FROM HOME – Three years ago. February 22 2022

Mama’s been in Heaven three years today. While sitting on the seawall this morning, looking out across the tawny-brown waters of the Gulf, the morning mist against my face, I thought of that rainy morning that God called her Home. I remembered Mama’s low, raspy breathing. How quiet and still she was. And how warm her old hands were, as I held them gently in mine. I could not help but think about her hands.

They had picked cotton and hoed long rows of beans and potatoes. They had washed and cleaned “coal-oil” lamps. They had pulled a string, which switched on the first-ever electric light in her family’s old home place. Her hands had washed clothes with homemade lye soap, milked a cow, helped shoe a horse, and tightly gripped the side of her grandfather’s weathered, old buckboard. Mom’s hands survived the Great Depression; they helped her do her bit for the war effort and held a pen as she studied late into the night while attending the University of Southern Mississippi.

Mom’s hands, for all her early years of hard work, were still wonderfully soft. As a child, I remembered those soft hands holding my fevered head, as I struggled through childhood diseases like measles, mumps, and chickenpox. Those soft hands were swift teachers, too, quickly popping my rowdy self with a smack on my backside when needed, which was pretty often. As Mama’s mind faded, and she didn’t always know who I was, she would often take my face in her wrinkled old hands and say, “You look like my little boy…I love him so.”

Sometimes still, Mama seems so close. I almost expect to hear her speak, expect to see her smiling, wrinkled face, expect to touch her soft, old hands once more. But there are times when she’s far away, an echo down a long, empty hallway, an echo of that which was and can never be again on this side of Jordan. Never a day goes by that I don’t think of Mama’s loving, warm hands, which eventually went cold as I held them on the day she passed away. But one day, one day soon, I’ll feel their warmth once again, when she meets me at the Gate and welcomes me Home.

May be a black-and-white image of person, child and standing