Today we remember my grandmother, a woman of many names, Carolina, Carolyn, Carrie, Sister, Mother, Grandmother, or Mawgy as we like to call her, and great-grandmother. My grandmother was a beautiful soul. A kind, courageous, smart, loving, caring and compassionate woman. She was remarkable in so many ways. She would give you the dress off her back, the last penny to her name, and every last min on her cell phone plan to talk you through a tough time. She endured so much but always found a way to see the good in her circumstances. She loved hard, forgave fast, and always trusted in God. She was a Christian woman who understood what it meant to always see the good in people, believe that everything in life happens for a reason, and to be fruitful and multiply. And multiply she did! She built a beautiful dynasty and filled us with lasting impressions, all 50 some of us.
Her humble beginnings started in Abington, VA or down in the “hollar” as she always used to call it. A big sister to 8, she has always been a mother figure. Her siblings remember her as always being there for them. To keep them safe when Aunt Will thought it would be a good idea to “teach” her 2 year old sister Shirley how to swim in the Fallen Branch River, setting off a panic and forcing Mawgy and Aunt Cora to save her and swearing off Aunt Will’s swimming privileges for life. To keeping them entertained by playing a mean game of jacks or paddle ball with her sister Cora. To keeping their bellies full by serving up her finest mud pies for dinner in the tree house they built in the woods. She even delivered her brother Clyde in the back seat of a station wagon! Long after they moved away from VA, Aunt Will and Mawgy would go back for visits with their cousin Wilma Jean and would live out what would be the best memories they would share. Aunt Will in the driver seat, Wilma Jean as the map reader, and what I imagine was my grandmother in the backseat telling them what to do.
My grandmother adored her birthplace. I remember visiting when I was younger; I had never seen something so beautiful. The picturesque views, steep hills, and the open country side that shaped my grandmother will always hold a special place in my heart. Sometime when I close my eyes, I can envision her and her siblings running around as Mamaw prepared dinner and Papaw worked around the house.
She would later move to MD and start a family of her own with my Pop. After all their fruitfulness they eventually came to multiply to the tune of 7 children, calling Aunt Will over to watch her troop as more and more babies kept coming into the world. Mawgy was a homemaker. She tended to the house, kept food on the table, and clothes on their backs -even if it was matching outfits that she handmade. She was always so proud of her seamstress skills and the clothes she made for them. The kids hated that they looked like a matching set of drapes but that never stopped her from making the next seasons fashion line. She was a feisty one that always had her children’s interests at heart.
Most of her children went on to meet their spouses in the ol’ Hereford Zone. Not many of you know that she was an excellent match maker and arraigned marriage for Aunt Bernice and Uncle Frank. When a young and shy Bernice was liking the looks of Uncle Frank’s mutton chops but was too afraid to speak up, Mawgy very willing shouted loudly across the landfill “Hey she likes you”. To this day Uncle Frank never really ASKED Aunt Bernice to marry him- Mawgy TOLD him he was going to marry her. I know that all of her children have some kind of memory where Mawgy was putting her nose in someone’s love life to ensure all her kids had a spouse and she was gonna get some grand babies- to which she did and was there to help bring many of the babies into the world.
My earliest memories of Mawgy were at the white house on Cockeysville road. We were always surrounded by family, food, and fun. My sister, Nikki, has fond memories of that house too- living with our grandparents and getting spoiled rotten- I mean taken care of. Mawgy used to rock her to sleep and assure her that life would be alright.
I eventually moved to North Carolina and she would soon join. I remembered her big white house in the middle of the trailer park. Nikki and I used to run around her house, have sleep overs, eat all her food, and cause a ruckus, as she would say. Eventually she would move in with us and we would share a house for the better part of 15 years.
She was such a large part of my up brining it’s hard to remember a time in my life where she wasn’t there. She was always there to spend late nights sewing my clogging outfits for my competitions, telling me to not eat the whole jar of pickles in one day, rushing to our side when Justin and I would inevitably injure ourselves on the go-cart or trampoline, and rocking me through the night when my stomach would hurt. Her body was always the most comfy. Sitting in her rocking chair, I would always sit on the arms of her chair with head on her heart. I remember coming home from school and not daring to talk to her while her soap operas were on. There better not have been one peep during the Days or Our Lives, All my children, Guiding Light, or Bold and the Beautiful. Same would go for her reading time. To this day I don’t know what she saw in her “romance novels”. I bet she read over 10,000 different books in her lifetime.
The most important books I ever watched her read were her college text books. One of my fondest memories was watching my grandmother walk across the stage at Davidson County Community College to receive her associate’s degree in Accounting. I remember being so proud that after all these years, my grandmother followed her dream and graduated from college. Being a non-traditional student in a field like accounting and still keeping our mouths fed, must have been extremely challenging. I think that her drive to go to college even after all that time had passed, paved the way for me to know that I wanted to pursue college as well. After all, if my grandmother could do it, I better give it my best try too.
Not long after, we would move to Maryland. Years and years of family bonding would ensue. My grandmother’s food seemed to always be at the center of everything we did. She was the master of comfort foods. Pinto Beans, fried potatoes, and corn bread (with sugar for everyone and without for her), pork and sauerkraut, green beans and potatoes with bacon fat of course, chipped beef and gravy, potato salad, lettuce salad, coleslaw, and who can forget her delicious cherry cheesecake! The woman was the only diabetic I knew that would always eat sweets and have a blood sugar “under” the normal levels. She would go on to teach us all how to cook, mostly all of her top secret recipes seemed to land in the head of Nikki. Their time together in the kitchen was among my sister’s favorite memories with her. I remember they would make the biggest messes preparing dinner, and I mean every dish in the house was dirty. She always had flour on her dress no matter what she was cooking, a wet belly from the dishes- a sign she used to say would mean you would later have babies, and would taste the food right from her bare hands, no spoon needed.
In addition to being the master of all foods, she was the most Christian woman I knew. Everything I know about the Bible, I learned from her. She would always take us to church. She would get us and herself dressed in our Sunday best and drive us in her station wagon. She volunteered us for the Easter play, had us baptized, would always get us there early to attend Sunday school, and knew every word to every gospel song we sang. She would regularly help Aunt Will plan her Sunday school lessons, debate the meaning of scripture to all who would dare challenge her, and enjoy lunches with her congregation after church was over.
Mawgy had a love for all things mail order shopping long before amazon prime was popular. I remember loving to look through her Fingerhut and ABC distribution catalogues. She had more stuff shipped to our house then she ever knew what to do with. Nick Nacs, snow globes, gadgets, bluegrass tapes, books, and much much more. But don’t you dare try to take it, move it, or get rid of it. She always knew where all her stuff was even in her piles and if one thing was out of place, she was on the phone calling someone.
The phone was always by her side. She had everyone’s number memorized and could dial it in an instant. Keeping in touch with her friends and family was always so important to her. That and giving the newest piece of gossip there was to offer. She would always call us a million times a day, just like I’m sure she did for all of you. When my sister moved from home and I to college, she would ring our phones off the hook, sometimes for the simplest of things. And you better get any words in while you had the chance, because when she was done, she would just click and hang up. No goodbye or I love you, it was always implied.
As my grandmother’s health started to decline, so did her phone calls. What I wouldn’t give today to pick up the phone, talk about life, hear her laugh again, and to hear her say “I Love You”. Mawgy was an amazing sister, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and most of all, role model. She was smart, beautiful, witty, and loving. She touched so many lives in so many ways and had a lasting impact on the world. She loved so deeply and forgave so easily, something that I think we all can learn from. I know that she is in heaven right now and looking down on all of us. She would want us to know that she loves us all, is proud of everything we have become, and would want to encourage us to be the best person we can be, no matter life’s circumstances.
Rest in Peace, Mawgy