Charlene or "Mamie" (I'm pretty sure she earned this nickname partially based on the eccentric, happy-go-lucky movie Auntie Mame") gave so much life to everyone she encountered. Not one to hide from the spotlight she could walk into a room and you would remember. She had a smile as wide as the ocean and a laugh that was contagious.
Some of my favorite memories with my dear Mamie include:
Every Wednesday she would pick me up from school to take me to dance lessons. She was my biggest fan. It didn't matter that I wasn't the best in the class, I was the best in her eyes.
Every Monday we would meet at the grandparents house for cocktail hour before we left for dinner. Every Monday she would encourage me to perform for my family while they enjoyed drinks. So, I was always coming up with new dance or new skits to entertain them. Based on her reactions to my performances you'd have thought I was more famous and talented than any starlet that ever lived.
For every holiday, even the small ones that most people forgot, I could count on my Mamie to be dressed head to toe in holiday themed apparel, and most importantly earrings. Studs were not enough for her, no she always had on huge, long earrings that weighed 5 lbs. each. For her funeral, each of us wore a pair of her holiday earrings, hats, and necklaces. I was Miss 4th of July so I naturally wore HUGE Star earrings and a gaudy necklace with flashing plastic American flags while my sister walked in wearing her Christmas best and my step-mom in the largest Easter Bonnet you've ever seen. We were a sight to behold, but I know she looked down in joy that day.
|My sister rocking some of Mamie's jewelry|
On Christmas morning, we would all gather to read the Bible story and then 4 different versions of The Night Before Christmas - her personal favorites being the Texas and Cajun versions. After opening our presents we would have to search somewhere in the tree of the "green pickle" and whoever found it first got a cash prize. Then it would be time for dinner. She'd always make her enchilada casserole which I could eat the entire thing and end the evening with a peppermint pig that each person would have to smash with a hammer and make a wish. Needless to say, she made Christmas traditions something to remember.
In our home town, she was often referred to as "The Gingerbread Lady." After her brother died, she needed a distraction to pour her heart and soul into so she did what she always did - gave back to the children and to the community. She would spend HOURS upon HOURS making and intricately decorating gingerbread men, individually wrapping them, and hanging them on a tree outside during the month of December as gift to the neighborhood children that came by. Watching the happiness on their faces as they came and plucked a homemade, cookie off the mesquite tree in the front yard filled her with joy. She did this for 13 years.
She loved her chihuahua. No one else did. You could never go over to the house without wearing a shoe that covered your heel or else he'd latch on and draw blood. She never seemed to notice. He was still an angel in her eyes. This says a lot about her. Literally with everything she always saw the good and loved everyone and everything without guile.
On April 10, 1938, she married the love of her life, my grandpa John. They were madly in love, but he had no money and her mother didn't approve of them marrying because she barely knew him. Mamie knew him though and she was madly in love. And so, she followed him to Louisiana where he warned her that he wouldn't let her go back to Texas without a ring on her finger. She agreed and their elopement ensued. He couldn't afford a ring, but there was no price for love in her eyes. She simply wore a string rapped around her ring finger until he could get one. They didn't stop loving with that same amount of passion for the following 65 years.
Mamie generously poured her heart and soul into serving and caring for others and therefore made it impossible not to love her. She will be remembered as a gracious Christian lady whose lifetime vocation was to love, encourage, humor, protect, and nurture her family and loved ones. Her most treasured moments were times spent with her family. An effervescent laugh and smile were the hallmarks of her personality .Always seeing the best in people,loving everyone and encouraging them in all their pursuits while bringing an abundance of life into a room are a few of the many qualities she left behind in her legacy. I am honored to be her granddaughter and hope to be even a portion of the woman she was some day.