Lessons from Lucy

A troubling dream woke Mama.

“I was going into the hospital for something but I was crying because I didn’t know who would take care of my babies,” she said.

“Your babies?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Mama said. “I guess it must have been you, your brother and sister.”

I didn’t say anything, just leaned up against the wall as Mama recounted the dream that awoke her.

“I know it’s silly,” she said, shaking her head. “I guess you three don’t need me to be taking care of you.”

My daughter called me the other day. She said she realized that when my mother dies I’ll truly be an orphan.

I remember the day Mama’s mama died. Someone, Uncle Woody maybe, carried Granny Ruth to the bedroom. Scooped up her up in his arms like she was a four-year-old who fell asleep watching late night television.

Our kin didn’t die in hospitals back then. Nobody could afford to die anywhere but home. Insurance was expensive and jobs were hard to come by. Not much different than today. Only Mama has good insurance. She could afford to die in the hospital if that’s what she wanted. She doesn’t.

On Sunday Sister Tater loaded up the car and took Mama to the beach. Mama lived at the beach, just up the street from Sister Tater, until she moved in with Brother John a couple of years ago. Mama loves the beach.

The people at church came together and anointed Mama with oil and prayed for her. Mama wept. Love can do that to a person, melt them from the inside out.

Sunday afternoon Little Lucy sat next to Mama on Sister Tater’s front porch.

“Grandma?” Lucy asked, even though Mama isn’t really her grandma. Lucy doesn’t know that, nor does she care. In her heart Mama is her grandma.

“Yes, Lucy?” Mama replied.

“How come you are so sick?”

“I don’t know,” Mama said.

That answer seemed to satisfy Lucy.

Lucy seems to know what it takes a lifetime for many to grasp – we don’t need people in our lives who have all the answers. We need people who will sit with us when we are hurting. We need people who care after us, the way a good Mama does.

While it is true that my siblings and I all are quite capable of getting ourselves properly fed and dressed for the day, I doubt there will ever come a time in our lives when we don’t need our mama.

Do you feel that way too?



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  • Rachel

    Oh, I do feel that way! Even though we’ve been taking care of our mama for 12 years, and she has visited death’s door on more than one occasion, when she finally walks through it, it will still be too soon. It will be too soon in spite of the fact that we are burned out, depleted, grieving daughters who love their mama and would do anything to give her back her health, but we’re struggling to find an ounce of strength to carry on. Your mama is living so loved! She’s so blessed to have you all.

  • I still need my dad and he’s been dead 10 years….

  • I think it was Micheal Green who said that when we are in pain we don’t want somebody to explain it. We want someone to help us through it. So much wisdom in that, especially for those people hung up with why pain exists at all if God is loving, all-powerful and good. The fact that he will “never leave or forsake us” is so much more satisfying than an explanation of why bad things happen.

  • john@pdx


  • gloria

    Amen and Amen and Amen. I will always need and want my mom and my dad no matter how old I am or get to be. Thanks for putting this into words.