|Patricia Moore Griffin, 1992|
My mother's birthday was last week. She passed away in 1993. She was only 69.
Mama liked to work in her garden. On the day she died, that's just what she was doing. My father was inside reading when my Aunt Doris came over to see Mama. Daddy sent her out back, and my aunt found her. Needless to say, it was quite a shock to all of us.
I was out of my office and away from home when she died. I was attending a seminar in Albany. When I got home that evening there was a phone message from Daddy. When I called, Aunt Doris answered and broke the news. Whatever I learned at the seminar flew right out of my head and to this day I have no idea what the thing was about.
Richard and I had been dating for only a few months, but he drove me home to South Carolina. I used up most of a box of tissues on the trip. He had to get back to Tifton but he came back to get me at the end of the week.
During that week, relatives and friends came out of the woodwork to attend the wake and the visitation at the funeral home and the funeral itself. Even my former husband came.
My cousin Steve, who I've never seen wear anything but jeans and a western shirt, arrived wearing black jeans. After we had our little weep and dried our eyes, I commented on his wearing his "dress" jeans, but you know, that was a tribute to Mama. He got as dressed up as he ever does.
Mama and I had a typical mother-daughter relationship, until I grew up, and then we became friends. The friendship was solidified during a typical mother-daughter phone call and I realized she was trying to guilt me into something. I called her on it, and she admitted she was doing it, but she never did that again. I don't think she was fully aware that she did that until I drew attention to it.
When I was living in Charleston and going home every other weekend or so, Mama and I would sometimes go shopping. She told me later that she watched me to see what sort of things I was attracted to, and used that information when she went Christmas shopping. I thought that was right clever of her.
When I was still in college, Mama would come down occasionally to spend a weekend. One weekend she was going to take my friend Richard (not the one I'm married to) and me to dinner. They had never met. Richard, normally sartorially well put together, arrived at my apartment wearing the goofiest collection of clothes I'd ever seen. He had on an old misshapen tweed jacked, a skinny tie from the 50s/60s, frayed khakis, and some ugly old brogans. When I answered the door, he barged on past me, stuck out his hand, and said, "Hey! You must be Pat's mommer!" (My first name is Patricia and I used to go by Pat.) Mama said later that the look on my face was priceless. I'd never been so shocked. Well, Richard finally changed his clothes and combed his hair and we went to dinner. My mother was charmed and Richard became a good friend of the family. He called Mama and Daddy "Ma Griffin" and "Pa Griffin."
Mama and Daddy came to Charleston periodically. They would stay in a hotel because I never lived anyplace that had room for guests. We toured old houses and ate at seafood restaurants and Daddy would always invite one or two of my friends.
When I was going away to graduate school in Seattle, Mama decided that she and Daddy would drive me as far as Bozeman, MT, where my Aunt Dorothy lived. We visited my Aunt Mary in Sioux Falls on the way. We also did some sightseeing along the way. We toured the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, TN; in South Dakota, we went to the Mitchell Corn Palace, stopped in the Badlands, had a buffalo burger at Wall Drugs, and visited Mt. Rushmore. When I was about to get on the plane in Bozeman for the rest of my journey to Seattle, my mother, usually very calm, actually cried because I was going to be away for a couple of years.
I wish Mama had lived long enough to attend my wedding to Richard (the one I AM married to; Richard from Charleston did attend the wedding). I feel like her spirit was there, but it's hard to introduce a spirit to your new in-laws. Mama was good at getting along with people, so I'm sure she would have liked my in-laws and they her.
I think Mama would have taken quite easily to computers and the internet and e-mail. She would have loved Amazon and I would have had her reading my blog. She also would have made a great Crusty Old Fart.
Mama worked in the post office, knew everybody and they knew her. When she retired, she would stand at the open front door, look out at the road, and say, "Look at all those poor people going to work," and then she would laugh and go out and do some yard work.