Friday, February 02, 2007

GOODBYES

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."

32 comments:

trying2hide said...

Oh sweets you simply have no idea how many different ways that hit home.
I thank you.

meno said...

How special the adults in our lives who are not our parents can be.

Nice tribute.

Regina Clare Jane said...

Just a lovely story of a lovely woman. Thanks for sharing this...

Liza Lee Miller said...

What is it about Found Family that can be so wonderful.

Thank you for sharing that beautiful tribute!

dailypanic said...

that was beautiful. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Speedy Chick said...

Sometimes the family you choose is just as important as the one you have. I admire you for keeping in touch. Great post:)

pia said...

That was a wonderful story. Thank you

Thanks for visiting mby blog. In answer to your question--I wish I were a celebrity who made money off her blog

It's just been very read since before it was designed, and while more people love it, many people feel free to denigrate it, and me

Amber said...

Oh my gosh, what a lovely piece! It made smile through wet eyes. Wonderful.

:)

Andri said...

I really like your story...and the way you wrote it.
It was just like I had been there.
Thanks for sharing it.
Andri

lolololo said...

This put tears in my eyes. What a lovely tribute to Mae. I hope you send Marcia a copy.
Lisa (otters43x365.blogspot.com)

Robbie said...

This was great Mary! It made me wish I had been lucky enough to know Mae.

Mandi said...

What wonderful memories, and a great take on the theme. All the best.

ian said...

What a lovely tale! Thank you for sharing it.

Ian

Anonymous said...

WoW! Wonderfully written and such a beautiful tribute. Thanks for sharing this story.

Monica
http://journals.aol.com/sonensmilinmon/Pollyannascorner/

Miss Cellania said...

That was a beautiful story. Thanks for telling it.

AC said...

My Mae was named Francine. When I was a baby my mother had a slipped disc and couldn't pick me up or hold me to give me a bottle. Francine did all the loving, changing, feeding, holding. I swear I can remember how she smelled.

She stayed with us for years, until I was in second grade. I love her to this day and shudder to think how I would have turned out if no one could have held me and sung to me.

That was a beautiful story, just beautiful.

GreenishLady said...

Aw... it was so lovely to read this. You totally evoke the atmosphere of your times with Mae. Beautiful. Thank you.

Steverino said...

I am sitting in my kitchen having my 6am coffee on Super Bowl Sunday. The temperature here in Chicago is near zero with a sharp wind chill that will turn you into an ice sculpture in ten minutes. But there is a warmth in my heart and I have moist eyes after reading your remembrance of Mae.

After my wife returned to work, we hired a sturdy woman who worked in one of the hi rises next to our three flat. She was fantastic and loved our daughter. Some of your story was similar to our maid. She lived in another world – the west side of Chicago. It reminded me of the run down areas I knew from down-home in southern Ohio, middle Kentucky and western West Virginia of my childhood. It was like going to another country.

Sadly she aged, as your Mae, and her work deteriorated. She brought her daughter along to help. She was a unwed single mother of two or three, had a drug habit and rest that goes with it.

We began helping them both out, ometimes with sizable loans. Finally, the time came to say good bye when the loans became too large. It was a sad time.

Your story brought back a torrent of memories of our “Mae.”

Thanks.

Steve, in frigid Chicago, home of the “hawk,” (cutting wind)

Kamsin said...

A touching tribute to someone who clearly touched your life. Thanks for sharing this story.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely tribute

AnnieElf said...

Deeply moving. You were all so lucky to have each other.

Waspgoddess said...

That was a wonderful read.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tongue in cheek said...

Beautiful, simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing your tribute!

Paul said...

So I've known you for three years, and you've been sitting on this story all that time? I never want to hear you whine about nothing to write ever again.

Great writing.

Anonymous said...

hi

Ali la Loca said...

My Mae's name is Beth. She takes care of our house in Brazil and was the nanny of a dear friend for the first 18 years of his life.

I have a story to tell that I am sitting that involves the day when I saved her life. Not quite ready to spill my beans, but what you wrote here reminded me so much of the connection I share with Beth and how important it is that I tell my story at some point.

Thanks for sharing this.

whenn said...

What a special story... It gave me tears in my eyes! Thank you for sharing it!

Tina said...

Mae sounds like an absolute gem. How lucky you were to have her in your life ... and in your corner, as a teenager. I loved hearing about her ... thanks for sharing a beautiful story.

COLORADO BOB said...

Nice story .... Like your header art.

emmapeelDallas said...

Terrific story. You are one incredible writer.

Judi

ab said...

a wonderful tribute...this lifted my spirits...thanks for remembering and thanks for sharing too.