Thursday, December 02, 2010
There are people in this world who can say the words "I Love You" and mean it from the bottom of their hearts. Oneida Carnes, my grandmother, my Mawmaw... she could say them louder and more heartfelt than anyone, using only her two arms and hands... every time I saw her, she would reach out to me and wrap me up in the tightest hug, pressing her forehead against mine as if to have her thoughts and unconditional love come straight out of her heart and into my heart. The love radiated from her arms. She'd squeeze me tight and smile back at me so close - as if she'd just eat me right up if she could. She'd hold me there for a long moment, then utter the very loving words I'd already felt spilling over into me through her embrace. She'd put her hands on either side of my face and speak straight into my eyes telling me how much she loved me. My sweet Casey, she'd say, I think of you every day. I love you so much. I hope you know how special you are to me.
I will cherish those moments and they will be the things I'll remember most. Hugs that can only come from Mawmaw.
I've seen her give these same hugs to everyone in our family. Her brothers, her children, her grandchildren, her sons and daughters-in-law. Her grandchildren's husbands and wives. And I remember her always smoothing Pawpaw's hair, pressing her cheek against his and holding his hands. Love and adoration emanated from her. She made each of us feel like we were the center of her world. And we were. You could plainly see her greatest joy in life was to have all of her family together under one roof, laughing and enjoying the time together. With cornbread of course. Always some cornbread fresh from the cast-iron skillet.
Every time I think of her, my heart melts from the thought of those warm embraces and the scent of her familiar perfume. A beautiful lady that will always see me as a little girl in a blue coat and black mary janes.
So many times as a little girl I followed behind her through the garden at the yellow house, checking the corn and the tomatoes and hoping that maybe we'd be able to eat the strawberries straight off the vine. The warm breeze would float by us, she would be on the swing near the giant apple tree as I beckoned her to watch me climb onto its lowest, thickest branch. The only one I could reach. And then we'd search for the best of the sour green apples that had fallen off the tree.
She didn't mind when I played with all her best handbags as I searched for all the extra sticks of cinnamon gum that were left in the bottom. I liked to think she left them there just for me. She'd spend hours beside me at the piano or organ, playing my every request over and over, her smile never fading. I swayed beside her, listening to her sing Silent Night or Amazing Grace and watching her hands move across the keys.
I always loved it when we'd get Mawmaw laughing really hard sitting at the table after we finished a holiday meal. She'd start with a belly laugh and then put her hand up over her mouth until the tears would come and then her hand would move down over her heart as if she just couldn't take it anymore. But then she'd continue laughing until it was just silent shaking and tears.
The way she loved Pawpaw is something that is always on my mind and in my heart. An inspiration to me. In the years after he died, she missed him so much and longed to hear his voice or hold his hand just once more. It gives me peace to know that she is reunited with him. And with her Savior.
Words can't say how much we loved Mawmaw and how much God blessed us by having known her. And I just want to thank her for loving all of us in such a wonderful way. She will be forever in my heart.