Momma, did you know?


You’d be amazed by all the things I remember.

You in acid wash jeans, and a bright yellow tucked in t-shirt. Big yellow bow holding back a cascading train of long, gorgeous, black hair.

Did you know I used to pray to have hair like you?

When there was a string of burglaries around the neighborhood, and the doorknob was turning over… I ran terrified into the living room. There you were unafraid and prepared with a baseball bat in your hands.

Did you know I was more afraid for that burglar to meet you than I was of him?

I was in the eighth grade in the middle of a basketball tournament, and you were in the hospital fighting through another round against your illness. The doctors weren’t sure how to treat you, and Dad was so scared I thought he would cry. We weren’t sure how to function without you. I remember staying in your room all night, watching you lay sick after a game.

Did you know that’s the only sleepless night I’ve ever had in my life?

You were talking on the phone to your sister, cleaning the house like the superwoman you always were, and you saw a dang fly on the window. You lifted up your foot, and I watched you kick the glass through. You looked at me then, as if to say, “oh yes, you can tell your Daddy that I DID get that fly.”

Did you know how often you made me laugh?

Me and the sisters were riding in the car with you, and I was making fun of some girl from school. You turned around, gently, and said to me, “Shelby you don’t know her story. You don’t know what people have been through. You ought to befriend her, I bet she could use a friend like you.”

Did you know you taught me the definition of both compassion and empathy that day? And taught me how to care for people who didn’t look and act like me?

I was saying something ugly to Taylor, calling her names, again in the car. (The car rides have some of the best and worst conversations.) You said, “Shelby, if Taylor is ugly, then YOU are ugly. Because you look exactly like her. You may think you have friends now, but at the end of your life, when I and your dad and all those friends are gone.. you will be thankful you have Lauren and Taylor. So if you’re calling her ugly, then I’m calling you ugly.”

Did you know you are the reason I’m so close to my sisters?

I was in my dorm room, first year of college, with a friend who was crying. Low self-esteem, no confidence, no desire to fight for herself after years of always being manipulated and put down.

Did you know your voice and your words came pouring out of me that day?

When people meet you for the first time after knowing me, it is always the same response.

  • “You are a lot like your Momma” they say.

And I smile and say a thank you, and the conversation keeps on going. But while they are moving on to the next topic—I’m flooded with memories of you.

Things you have always done that I now work hard to implement. Things you have always said that I hear in the back of my mind. They say little girls like to wear their momma’s hats and their heels… but not me. If I could just wear a little bit of your attitude and have a little bit of your heart. If I can laugh as hard as you laugh, joke as much as you joke, be as kind as you, even to those who did not deserve it. Sure, you’ve got your faults. For a time, I saw those more clearly than I saw your strengths.

You say a lot to me now, if I could go back, I’d work less or I’d stay at home with you girls or I’d do this or that….

But Momma, when I go back, I remember your presence. You working hard. Your intelligence, your kindness, your dreams– weaved in and out of every day of my childhood. You prayed for me, before I was born. You sacrificed all your hopes just for me. You created a life for me- gave me permission to dream, you shielded me from suffering, and held me when the world came crashing down on me. There might be some things you wished you could take back.. but me?

You’d be amazed by all the things I remember.



Leave a Reply