Talkin' Outdoors

Some of you will be reading this prior to the day; some on the day and others a few days after. No matter, Sunday May 14 is a special day where we honor our mothers; it’s Mother’s Day.

Let me tell you about mine or rather, let my sister, Linda, share her memories of our mom and the fact that she, our brother and I, had such a close call to the point none of us were supposed to have ever seen the light of day.

“She was baby number thirteen for her parents. The cemetery held eight little graves in a row. The babies had been still born or died within a few weeks of birth. Back in 1912, a tiny baby girl born eight weeks premature at home and in the dead of winter was just another tombstone to be prepared,” Linda wrote.

“Things looked so bleak, the midwife didn’t even tie the baby’s umbilical cord. As a result, she nearly bled to death shortly after birth. Her parents, so accustomed to heartache, had not even chosen a name. The repeated losses just hurt too much. But the tiny baby survived the night, so the next morning the midwife named her Lemee, after the Lemee House on Front Street in Natchitoches. She wasn’t given a middle name; it didn’t seem necessary.

“The old house was drafty and December winds can blow cold in houses heated only by a fireplace. Her mother developed an infection and ran a high fever for several days. When the midwife offered to put the baby in a separate place, her mother declined and held the dreadfully small baby close. Mama always said that her mother’s fever probably saved her life and served as an incubator to keep her stabilized.”

Since my mama’s life was spared, her parents didn’t have to agonize about preparing grave number nine. Perhaps it was her determination to live that provided the grit and gristle for teaching her three offspring lessons of life.

She was more than a mother. She was a teacher, not college trained, but a teacher nonetheless who shared what she had learned about nature with us.

I still vividly remember sitting on the front porch as dusk settled over our world, fruit jar in hand. She taught us to catch lightening bugs, place them in the jar watching their little lights flick on and off. After awhile, we followed Mama’s instructions to unscrew the lid and watch the points of light flutter off into the darkness.

It takes little effort to recall her shushing us as we listened to the trill of an unfamiliar bird. With the three of us in tow, she’d slip into the backyard, bird book in hand, and search until she found the little songster. Flipping through the tattered pages of her bird book, she’d point to a photo of the one she heard singing and tell us all about it. It is mainly for this reason that today I keep my bird feeders filled and my bird book handy.

Not only did she teach us about nature, she also provided life lessons as well. It is still painful for me to remember the time when Mama peeled a banana for my brother, Tom, and me. I was old enough to know better but I blurted out, “I want the biggest piece.” She pinched me off an inch long portion of the banana, handed it to me and gave the rest to Tom. She never said a word; she didn’t have to.

This lesson continues on as my granddaughter, Haley, shared this week about her eldest son, Gabe, asking for the biggest piece and getting a small portion while younger brother Levi, enjoyed the rest. I’ll bet Gabe won’t repeat that mistake again.

I wouldn’t be where I am today, wouldn’t have learned hard lessons, sometimes administered with a peach tree switch, about life, about God, about nature’s creatures and about sharing. I am reminded of what my mama taught me every time I see a new bird…or peel a banana.

Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven, Mama.