I find that having a blog is something like having a diary and making it public on purpose. Sometimes it is hard to stay in the boundaries of what is ok to share with the world and what is not. There is a fine line. I get confused.
Today’s post is ok to share with the world. Some might find it surprising but I want to share with you about my former mother-in-law. She recently passed away and was laid to rest yesterday. My hubs and I went to the wake the night before and I, at last, was able to introduce him to many of my former family, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My ex-husband’s family is large. I was nothing more than an immature kid of 18 when I married into it. The marriage didn’t last long but the relationships did, at least, I think so. To this day I still feel a sense of family when I am around them.
Verla Mae White. 1926-2018. Her funeral Mass was beautiful, a real testament to the lives she touched and blessed. Her pall bearers were her grandsons, my two sons included. They were all so handsome and grown up. And they were proud to lay their ‘Granny’ to rest.
She was a wonderful woman, married for a lifetime to Artis White, bore him five girls and one boy, and was a very faithful Catholic woman with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. She was kind, laughed a lot, loved to dance, and adored her family with all her might. Verla Mae made the neatest biscuits. They were about 5 inches across and flat. We called them flying saucers. Man, they were good! I loved to watch her make them. Her small hands making a well in a mound of flour, baking soda and powder, add milk, pull out a handful, shape and pat, pop on the pan and into the oven. I loved them with jelly smeared on the top. You couldn’t split them for buttering, they were too flat but they were delightfully crispy on the bottom. Makes my mouth water to think about them. There was only one thing she cooked that I couldn’t eat – baked chicken and dressing. She would bury the chicken under mounds of cornbread dressing and bake it that way. The cornbread dressing was delicious but the chicken had no color at all. It came out as white as it went in and looked like – well, dead chicken. My then-husband said it tasted fine but I couldn’t put it in my mouth to see if it was good. I understand that she did change her way of baking chicken and dressing years later. She didn’t have to. No matter what she cooked everyone knew the finest ingredient she cooked with was love. And many people loved her. In fact, her family, meaning brothers, sisters, cousins, and their off-spring, often visited her home knowing a good time was inevitable. She had a way of making everyone feel like they belonged. I remember in the ‘old days’ many weekends and every holiday was spent in the ‘middle room’ of her home playing music, dancing, and cutting up. She strongly believed in family.
I can honestly say if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be Catholic. It’s true. When her son told her he wanted to marry me, Mama said “she’s not Catholic”. That sealed the deal and led to my baptism and confirmation. Bless her heart, she stayed on her knees for her children and their spouses. I could have learned a lot from her if I wouldn’t have been so stupid when I was young. A few years ago, I was blessed to see her when I visited her church on a Sunday morning. She told me then that she always has loved me and always will. She said she never stopped which is amazing when you consider I left the family way back in 1981. That was the way she was, the way she is. Love doesn’t die, it doesn’t pass away. It is the only thing you can take with you to the afterlife. Maybe I can learn from her after all.
Wow, those were some good days. Too bad I didn’t appreciate it then as much as I do now. Of course, I believe that now is the best time of my life, but there is no harm in looking back and selectively enjoying what was. Granny’s funeral gave me that, especially with all of my kid’s first cousins, the pall bearers. It was so good to see them all together. They still call me Aunt Nancy. One of them even told me he had good memories of spending time at our house as a child. He said I was his second Mom back then. My heart melted, flipped, and rejoiced when he said that. It was a wonderful revelation.
One more thought afforded to me from seeing this family in reunion was brought about by the sense that my boy’s first cousins, second cousins, etc, seemed to look at me with a different than normal intensity. At least it seemed so to me. I figured it out later. Yes, I did and it was a shock. Just as I had looked upon Granny, her husband, and her remaining siblings as being ‘old’, now too were the younger ones looking at me and my peer in-laws as old. Let me say ‘older’ instead. But nevertheless, we are next in line. Oh heavens. How did this happen!?
Oh well. It is the way of life. God’s design is quite complex with the end result intended to meet us where we are. He knows how we need to see the past through older, more mature eyes. He knows that age and experience tend to put down strong roots and bear fruit beneficial to many. It’s kind of like “I am the Vine, and you are the branches”, right?
What a good God we serve! Rest in peace, sweet Verla. Thank you for everything and please give Him a hug for me.
Please pray for peace, y’all. The world is a dangerous place. Storm heaven with your prayers!