Another post inspired by Sunday Scribblings.......
My mother had a lot of children. Six of us to be exact. As was usual in the South, we had a lady that came in and helped Mom with the cleaning once a week. Her name was Mae. She was with our family for over 18 years.
Mae was the last of a line of cleaning ladies that Mom hired. There is something so special about Mae that all of us recognized it then and even as I sit here and type I am smiling atthe memories. I loved her very much. We shared a variety of secrets over the years beginning when I was a teenager.
My room was my sanctuary and I was one messy teenager. I imagine that Mae dreaded heading into the dungeon that doubled as my room. God I was messy! Back then, I was too busy with other things to care much about the condition of my room.
Mae would come to the house on Fridays and would fill a jar full of water and place it in the refrigerator. "My ice water" she called it and would drink out of it all day. She would sit for down for lunch and if I were home (Friday was generally the day my Mom would be volunteering at the school, Stamp Club, the library...always on a Friday) I would join her and we would share a tuna fish sandwich and talk about the Soap Operas. It was as if those characters were our neighbors down the street, "Did you see what that old Rachel said to Mac?" and we would be off and running on the shocking plot deviations and who was having an affair with who.
I would be sly about having my room cleaned, I hated having anyone touch my stuff, and I would volunteer to clean it myself to save her the trouble and allow her to sit a spell in the living room and watch the soaps. My Mom always knew when I cleaned my room. Clothes would be hidden under the bed, and things stuffed into the large walk in closet. The sheets on the bed would not have been changed. And the vacuum job on the carpet was less than perfect.
But, she never got on Mae about it...just me!!
I had three brothers who had a hoard of carefully hidden crime magazines. (Detective Crime Magazine?) I can't remember the exact names, but it had pictures of women with their clothes being ripped off with a man holding a knife to their throat. Pretty heady stuff! I had one hidden under my mattress. Unfortunately that was the day Mom and Mae turned my mattress.
Oh the shame. My face still burns with the humiliation.
As Mae aged she came to the house and just flung a rag around and washed the floor. Mom still paid her and put money into a social security account. My Mom challenged all Mae's customers to follow her lead, and if memory serves correctly, there were a lot of upset ladies in our community over my Mothers progressive ways.
Mae began to age so that even the feeble attempts at cleaning the house became too much and she no longer came over. I would come home from school in the fall or visit home from all the zillions of places I lived, I would sometimes make a trip to the orchard, purchase apples and make several pies.
I would go into the area of town that Mae lived, which was a little community outside the city on a beautiful country road called Huntertown. The turn off was just before the Bluegrass Parkway crossed under the old Pike. Mae and her husband Hiawatha lived in a tiny two room house that was heated by a coal burning stove. Mae had Parkinson's disease in her later years, she would sit bundled up in blankets close to the pot belly stove, a walking cane in one shaking hand.
She loved the pies and the visit. I would bring Bridget with me and Bridget would climb into her lap and let Mae pet her.
Every time I left her, walking out the door as a teenage on some mission, or as an adult to head back to my comfortable life, I'd say, "'Bye Mae".
Every time she would laugh and purse her lips and wag a finger at me, "Don't you say good-bye to me! You say, I'll see you around!".
She died right before Christmas many years ago. The ground was frozen so solid that the burial had to be postponed till the ground thawed up a bit. Mom, Bridget and I went to service and I remember it as if it were yesterday. Her granddaughter Marcia (who is my age) sang Mae's favorite gospel hymn. Her beautiful voice soared over all of us and caused considerable sobbing from Mae's son's. Finally Marcia's father stood and begged her to stop. We were all in sobs.
My thoughts leaving that tiny church on the frigid December day was this...
"I'll see you around Heaven, Mae."