I write this in honor of my mother. We could not give her the memorial service that she was so deserving of due to the 2020 pandemic. This broke our hearts. I hope to put to pen those words that will express our love for Ma Ma.
My mother was not a college graduate, a personal regret that she tucked away deeply. You see, after my daddy graduated USM, with a degree in coaching and athletics, he soon felt God’s call on his life to full time christian service. This required three more years at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. So… for seven years while helping Daddy study and pass tests, she was also having children every 18 months…four of them. Daddy said he would have never made it through his schooling without her helping him study. In truth, he always deflected any accolades given to him back to her out of love for her, and because he understood that they were a “team.” Ma Ma and Daddy made sure all four of their children had a college education. That is something that gave them both pride and personal satisfaction as parents.
Our parents raised four children when money was not just “tight” but “non- existent” at times. It was during these times that God provided miraculously for our needs, and growing up we loved hearing those stories of how money would “appear.” Daddy was always quick to tell us it was from God’s hand. One special story from our “Picayune Days” was of a beautiful winter coat (I can still see the colors) that Ma Ma had on “lay a way” because she actually did not have a coat. Before Christmas one year, that coat was delivered in a beautiful box to our door with no note attached. I remember mother held the box and dropped to her knees and began to cry. That was my mother’s heart.
Mama was a culinary artist at making a “six course meal out of three cans in the cupboard” as daddy used to praise her. Everything I know about making a “house a home” I learned from Ma Ma. I learned how to cook from watching her more than anything, and I didn’t realize I was learning. Ma Ma was always cooking something good to eat…there was no fast food for supper. She cooked from what she had, and that inspired many of her classic recipes like her famous “clouds.” Some friends still ask me for the recipe and I can only hope that my rendition of her recipe does her honor.
It has been said that there are “givers and takers” in this world. We were blessed to have two parents who were both “givers.” I have close childhood friends who have recently shared that they always considered my parents their “second parents” because of the impact they had on their lives. Mama had a quick, sassy wit, and we were always laughing!! And, they were always there for us, even when life kept us miles apart.
The picture in this eulogy is the one we had enlarged for her graveside service. This picture was in healthier and happier days. I know Ma Ma would have wanted “both” of them in the picture because they were a TEAM…married for 68 years…infrequently apart. At Daddy’s funeral service she consistently told long time church members, “I’m right behind him.” Mother’s race was run. They had both fulfilled a lifetime commitment to care for our sister who was born with physical, lifelong challenges. So often Ma Ma would declare her mother’s creed to “care for my child as long as God gives me breath,” and she and Daddy did.
God gave me a dream the night before he called Ma Ma home, just as he did with Daddy. What I can say is that it’s His way of loving a “long distance daughter.” Although personal, I felt led to share it. In my dream, I was standing beside Ma Ma holding her hand as she reclined in a chair. She asked me to do something for her (intimate), and I told her I would. In through the door walks Daddy, singing loudly (his trademark wherever he went). Immediately, he saw Ma Ma and jumped with joy, and said, “Man oh man, (also classic Daddy), Lou, I’m so happy to see you, I’ve missed you so much!” He then held our hands and said a prayer thanking God for sending Ma Ma to him.
In the past few years, I would share things on facebook with Ma Ma and Daddy and Paula, especially funny things. But once, I shared with Ma Ma a caption about dying, “No one is going to stand up at your funeral, and say ‘she had a really expensive couch and great shoes,’ don’t make life about stuff.”
From the comments we have received from others, I don’t think that anyone could make that statement about “Brother Paul and Miss Louise.” They LOVED…and their imprint on our lives is forever their legacy.
Hebrews 12: 1-2 was read at Ma Ma’s graveside, and I’ll close these words of love and honor for her life with “Since we have such a huge crowd watching us from heaven, let us run the race that God has set before us with perseverance…keep your eyes on Jesus, our coach and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God.”
I love you Ma Ma,