A bushel and a peck.
"I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck..." I can still hear her singing that. That and, "Playmate, come out and play with me." Oh, I miss my Mama. She has been gone for 17 years, but I can still hear her voice, a little bit shaky but warm and full of enthusiasm. I loved to climb up beside her on the bench for her organ. She would play and play from her worn music books and a hymnal from church. I loved to sit right beside her and sing along. Neither one of us really knew what we were doing, but I loved it just the same.
I have been tremendously and abundantly blessed with grandparents. I have known all four of my grandparents and 5 of my great-grandparents. I have been spoiled beyond spoiled, by what I know is a blessing that very few have. I have lost all but 2 of my grandparents. My Mema and Poppy are still very much here and a special part of my life. Mama, was Mema's mother.
I spent a lot of time at Mama's house. We would sit at her kitchen table and watch Wheel of Fortune and the Love Boat on the little tv mounted on the wall. She would of course mute it if something important came over the police scanner, because she needed to know what was going on. She taught me all sorts of things, like how to play cards and sew. She taught me how to draw a boy's face out of the word boy.We would put together puzzles while she smoked her non-filter Pall Malls. I loved to play in her massive jewelry box. She had sold Sarah Coventry costume jewelry and had an impressive collection. She would tell me stories about her parents, who had immigrated from Italy. She told me stories about her sisters. She told me stories about my Mema and my mom. She talked about her restaurant, Mary's Restaurant. She was tiny, but mighty, definitely a force to be reckoned with. Not that many people did. She was, after all Mary Woodall. But hands down, my favorite memory of her happened late one spring afternoon.
We decided to go for a walk in the woods behind her house. We had set our minds on fishing. My great-grandpa, Pup-up laughed and laughed. He had good reason because we were armed with a stick, some fishing line, a hook and some bread. That was our "no fail" fishing equipment. He chuckled at us and said that if we caught a fish that he would clean and cook it for us. Well, that was all that we needed to hear. Game on Pup! We wandered through the woods back to the creek and picked the perfect spot for fishing. I have no idea if it really was perfect, but Mama said so. And of course I believed her. She tied out fishing line on to our stick and we loaded the hook with bread and we threw in the line. We pulled it out a few times, and threw it back in and we waited. All of a sudden we felt a tug. We pulled back and darned if there wasn't a rainbow trout on the other end of the line! I really don't know who was more excited, me or Mama. We both jumped up and down screaming! I don't know how we didn't lose the fish in all of our celebrating, but somehow we managed to get that big old beautiful fish back to the house. My Pup was sitting on the porch listening to his transistor radio and he started to chuckle. "You're back already..No fish biting?" Mama had a little smirk on her face as she pulled the fish out from behind her back. "Only this one." as she handed it to him. I couldn't stop giggling. As I followed Mama into the house, she stopped and turned around saying, "Oh, and Wayne, we will be ready to eat at 5." My Pup was in shock, but true to his word, he cleaned and cooked our dinner that night. I can honestly say, I think that was the first time that I ate and enjoyed "real" fish.
That was Mama. She set her mind and never gave in. She was stubborn and bossy, and I loved her dearly. I still do. She always ordered her deodorant from Avon. When her Avon lady stopped selling, Mama decided to sell it herself. She was in her 80's at this time. I still use Avon's face cream because it smells just like Mama. There are often times when I look at my kids and think how much Mama would just love them. I just know that they would get such a kick out of Jonathan and his silly ways. She would just love Aiden's sweet nature and his big blue eyes. Noah would love to walk through the woods with her. I can just see Hannah and Gianna making Mama laugh with their nonstop chatter. They would love to do crafts or bake with her. She would love to hear all about Isaac's games, not because she was a huge sports fan, but because he would want to tell her. She would cut every single sports clip about Jacob out of the newspaper, showing them to whoever happened to stop by. Coley would make her so proud because she has pretty much mastered Mama's apple pie. And DJ with his quiet gentle soul, would make her smile.
Sadly, she passed away before I met Brian. But, I do not think for a minute that she didn't have her hand in our meeting some way. You see, she died within a couple of days of when Brian's first wife passed away. In fact it was at Mama's funeral that I said a prayer for Brian and the kids, who had been left behind by Andie's tragic passing. It doesn't take a lot of creativity to imagine Mama walking, or flying up (or whatever they do in heaven) to Andie and saying, "I have a granddaughter that needs a good Catholic husband and you have a husband that needs a good Catholic wife and mother for your kids. Let's talk. " That was her way. I am also sure that she would have had no problem calling in St Therese on the conversation and saying, "Hey Therese, you need to come over here and help us figure this out. I am Mary Woodall, after all." That was my Mama. Always looking out for us. I miss you Mama!