In my young days, way back about 40 years ago or so, I was a bit mischievous. Now, I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. I wasn’t what you could call mean, in fact, I had (and still do) a soft heart, until I got mad that is.
Anywho, Back in those days there was a lot that I could, and did, get into. Anything ranging from sneakin’ into Uncle Ben’s rhubarb patch to other things that I can’t mention in polite company.
I will admit that I was one of the best liars the good Lord saw fit to put on this here earth. I could look you straight in the eye and lie through my teeth, and you would have been convinced I was tellin’ you the God’s honest truth.
Somehow, I’m still not real sure how she did it, mom always knew when I was lyin’, it just depended on the circumstance at hand as to whether I got a whippin’ right then and there or I was made to suffer and wait ’till she saw fit to tan my hide, which just made it worse.
I can say with total conviction that my mom had to have been one of, if not the, most understandin’ people in the world.
A real good example of her understanding comes from the supper table.
I don’t know if I’ve ever told you or not, but mom and dad divorced when I was 5 years old and me and her moved back here to Virginia so as she could take care of Mamaw, her momma. Now Uncle Ben and his wife, Aunt Myrtle, lived with Mamaw, so when me and momma moved back we lived there too.
Uncle Ben saw fit to take it upon hisself to kinda’ adopt me and fill the empty space that my dad had left. He was pretty strict up to a point and I knew I had to listen to him and mind or I would be in trouble.
One of his most troublesome (to me) rules was I had to clean my plate, you know, eat everything that was on it, before I could get up from the table. When I was real little, that wasn’t so bad ’cause momma always put food on my plate, and she knew just how much to put so as I would eat it all.
As I got older though, I began servin’ myself, and there were times that my eyes were bigger than my belly, which means I thought I wanted more than I actually did, and I would get full before I could eat everything I had heaved on my plate.
It didn’t take but a look from Uncle Ben to know that I was full, but that didn’t stop him from sittin’ there and makin’ me eat till it was all gone.
I soon learned how to act like I wasn’t full and was headin’ toward a clean plate just long enough for him to get up from the table and go to his chair in the livin’ room. Every so often he would ask if I was full or “You know you’re gonna clean that plate don’t you?”
Of course I said yes, refer back to my wonderful ability to lie, and he wouldn’t say no more about it.
Now, momma is sittin’ there watchin’ all this take place every evenin’. She knows I done went and put more on my plate than I would ever eat, but she didn’t say nothin’, she just kept up her eatin’ like nothin’ was wrong.
Usually, after what seemed like an eternity sometimes, Uncle Ben would finally go to the livin’ room and after a few minutes, she gave him time to get settled and get his cigarette lit, she would take my plate and scrape off what I couldn’t eat into her plate so’s I wouldn’t get fussed at, by Uncle Ben anyway.
Most times she would give me that “momma look”, shake her head and tell me to git on outside, through the back door preferably.
I can’t count the times that she has saved my hide and prevented a fuss, cause she knew my temper and she also knew I wouldn’t take too much gettin’ fussed at before I would start fussin’ back, which always made matters worse.
So yes, my understandin’ momma is an angel, always has been and always will be. She’s gettin’ on now at 89 years old, her mind is slippin’ a lot, but I can still look at her and see that vibrant, hard workin’ woman from so many years ago.
And because of her, I learned how to understand when it came to my own young’uns. I also learned, after a while, not to put more on my plate than I was willin’ to eat.