Don Lively



“There’s that house I used to go to all the time.” I was driving, Mama was my only passenger. I was pretty certain that she’d never set foot in the house that she had pointed to. But this was after my siblings had chastised me and convinced me to stop arguing with Mama, no matter how aggravating and argumentative she could be. She was in her last few years and her mind had slowly begun to leave her. Even though it sometimes appeared as though she was saying things just to get a reaction, mostly she was just talking because she didn’t like the quiet.

Being somewhat buttheaded myself, it took me a while to understand that Mama often had no idea what she was saying.

If you’ve watched an elderly parent’s or relative’s mental cognizance slowly leave them before their body is ready to go, you know what I’m talking about.

Before she died a few years later, I did apologize to her for my impatience.

I hope, I pray, that she comprehended and accepted.

I still miss my Mama.

She was without doubt the boss of the house, even though Daddy was the head of the household.

I remember Mama meeting me at the door on more than one occasion when I’d either been working in the fields all day, or playing in the woods and swamps. It was like she knew I was coming and met me at the threshold.

“Get out there and wash offunder the hosepipe before you come in this house.” Then she’d hand me a towel.

I always enjoyed the outside washings so much that I was clean enough, at least by my standards, that I didn’t need to get in the shower. But Mama still made me have a real bath before supper.


Yankees call it dinner, but folks around these parts call the evening meal supper. Regardless of the name, Mama always had “a gracious plenty” waiting when Daddy, usually the last one to stop working and come in, got to the table. Incidentally, I never wasted a second worrying about why Mama never insisted that Daddy hose off outside. I knew the answer. Anyway, I’m still amazed all these years later how Mama was able to provide feasts at every meal and rarely have any of us complain about the fare.

Mama did a lot of things well but there’s never been a better cook anywhere on Earth.

Mama could also dance.

I had heard about her dancing skills from her sisters and friends but I don’t remember ever actually seeing her dance until we threw her and Daddy a 50th anniversary shindig at the VFW. They danced a few times but then Daddy, ten years older than Mama and, by that time 80 years old, turned her over to his friend Mr. Luther, who was also a renowned dancer.

Those two did indeed “cut a rug”.

They spun and twirled and dipped while my extended family and dozens of friends, and Daddy, happily watched from the sidelines. I think Mama, 70 years old, would have danced all night except she wore Mr. Luther out too.

Mama could sing too.

It wasn’t unusual for her to break into a song for no other reason than singing made her happy. Sometimes she would insist that I, or one of my sibs, sing along with her as she worked in the kitchen. Other times, when she’d be driving all four of us somewhere, we’d all be singing to the top of our lungs. We all got Mama’s singing genes too and in later years, after I moved back from Out West, I had the opportunity to sing in the choir with her and my brothers other kin and friends. Mama sang in the choir until she couldn’t.

I can still hear her.

Mama could cook, Mama could dance, Mama could sing.

But above all things, Mama loved her children.

We were told that Mama and Daddy were not able to have children for the first five years they were married, but once the figured out what the issue was, they created all four of us in a little over five years.

Mama loved her children.

It only requires a glance at me to know that she kept me well-fed.

She “made” me dance with her though I secretly thanked her, and I can still dance when the situation necessitates.

And I still bust out in song on occasion for no other reason that it makes me happy.

Mama loved her children.

Mama loved me.

Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day, Mama.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of several books of Southern Humor. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at

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