I thought I would give a little shout out to my mom on this day we pause to honor mothers.
Her name is Joy and I always tell folks that she wears her name well.
When I consider my mom, I think of her laugh, which tends to sound more on the cackle side of laughter. It's a laugh that sets her apart for sure and a laugh that God gave her that has helped her both endure and persevere.
When I was younger and living at home, I could hear my mom's laugh, no matter where I was in the house, from her laundry folding station in my parents room at something silly on TV (most likely Mama's Family re-runs, on TBS). I also remember very clearly, making my mom laugh when I was in 3rd grade after reading her a ridiculous tale I created when I had to write a story using all of my spelling words. It felt really good to make her laugh her loud, distinct laugh -- and it still does :).
Mom has the type of laugh that is contagious, which sometimes drove me crazy when I wanted to pout and be mad. As much as I tried to be fussy in those situations, her laugh usually got the best of me and I would eventually crack a smile and my drama would quickly subside. One day, I plan on using this clever trick with my own, most-likely ridiculously, dramatic kids.
While I unfortunately, do not bear the distinction of the sound of her laugh, I do love to laugh and am thankful my mom instilled her laughter in me and my sisters. After losing her husband (my father) to cancer when she was still in her twenties with two babies to raise, my strong mama, came away from the depths of that loss with an infectious laugh rooted in an eternal joy -- and she wears it beautifully.
Besides her laughter, when I think of my mom, I can never escape her southern accent. And if I am telling other people something that she said to me, I typically fall into impersonation mode.
My mom was born and raised in the panhandle of Florida, and except for a few years in Georgia and Texas, has lived there her entire life. For those of you not familiar with the culture of Northwest Florida, think southern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia instead of blingin' Miami or West Palm. It's a place where airbrush is common, mullets are still a viable style at many local barber shops, grits are always a good side choice, and southern accents are just the norm. And my mom has a great one. It's slow, drawn out, and perfect to imitate. In fact, I have had several friends over the years who have taken a stab at "Miz Joy's" voice because they have heard voicemail messages that go something like this: "Haaay Saaaaruh. This is yooor Maaaawmuuuh..." or have witnessed the accent firsthand.
A couple of years ago, my sisters, dad, and brother-in-law were in Destin around lunch time and we were looking for somewhere to eat. My mom said "how about the burritah place?" Needless to say, we all had a field day with "burrituh" and I think she secretly hopes we forget that one. I have a pretty good feeling we won't and I might even use it for a future kid (lil' baby Burritah) -- or at least a dog or fish name :)
For those of you who do not know my mawmuh, she is lovely, smart, creative, perceptive and funny. Rest assured, a southern accent does not equal dumbness. In my mom's case, it just makes her even more charming, memorable, and awesome. It would be absolutely strange and exceedingly boring if my mawmuh talked like a news anchor.
Hopefully, this post has given you a tiny glimpse of my mom. While her laughter and accent make her uniquely "Joy", it has been her deep faith, abiding love, and steadfast joy that have made it an honor and a gift to be her daughter. In both loss and abundance, she has always known whose she is, and is creating a legacy worth celebrating and repeating.
I love you mawmuh. Thanks for loving me well and for your continual support even though I make decisions that possibly make you antsy and even when I say "burrituh" perhaps one too many times :).
And another quick shout out to all of the other "mawmuh" figures in my life with whom God has seen fit to cross our paths either a while ago or more recently. Disclaimer: this does not mean you are old enough to actually be my mom, it just means you have loved me with your wisdom, your generosity, your humor, your home, your food, and the way you continue to believe in the Christ in me, especially during the seasons when I could not.
Now imagine I am talking in a pageant, hostess voice: "In no particular order, these are the incredible mawmuh figures that I love, that make me better, and are all deserving of the "Mawmuh Figure of the Year 2009" award: Beth Tomlinson, Cindy Harris, Julie Ware, Barbara Burks, Melissa Nichols, Lisa Sawyers, Kelly Evans, Jenny Pruett, Kimberly Coatney, Shelley Lucas, Mindy Beams, Amy Latham, Sheila Everett, Jessica Howard, Beyonce, Chris Martin, Jeff the Purple Wiggle, the Manatee at the Dallas Aquarium, Izzy Stevens, Blanche my fish, the cat calling lady in the apartment below us, the Somalian Pirates, and Tyra Banks."
Perhaps you can figure out who actually made the top 14 :)
To my mawmuh and my mawmuh figures on this mother's day:
"Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance."