Pronounced Meh-maw, everybody in the South has one. My mammaw was of sturdy stock, worked hard, grew beautiful roses and tulips and loved to sing "In the Garden".
"I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And he walks with me and he talks with me, And he tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known."
I remember it well. Spending summers with them on their spread on Mount Carmel Road just outside of Cabot, Arkansas. Waking up in the wee hours of daylight to tend to the flowers and vegetable garden before the heat got too bad. Papa was off working in the fields, usually bailing hay or repairing fences or some such farm work. Mammaw would work her gardens then head back into the house and make a breakfast fit for a king.
They never ate small meals, but if there was a small one, it would be breakfast. By today's standards, however, it was a feast. Eggs over easy, fresh homemade biscuits so fluffy and light nobody ever left the table after just one, freshly made jams and jellies from the strawberries in their enormous garden or from muscadines we picked out in the forest, ham, bacon or sausage freshly cured by a local butcher and milk either from their milk cow or the dairy just down the road. As a child I had a SERIOUS weight problem....I have no idea why!
Mammaw taught me how to fish with a bamboo cane pole. Lots of times in the summer months, whatever we caught in one of their fish ponds was what we ate for supper. But it wasn't always easy. I recall one afternoon when Mammaw and I went to the pond across the road from the house. We had just baited the hooks with these gross night crawlers (yuck and double yuck!), cast out lines and settled in being particularly quiet so we wouldn't scare off the fish. All of a sudden, this bullfrog comes hopping between us hellbent for leather into the water. Right after it came a water moccasin moving so quickly after it that he completely missed the fact that two humans were in his path. THANK GOODNESS! I guess it's true that the need to fill our stomachs outweighs any other challenge around us....same goes for snakes, I suppose.
Dinner was greatly appreciated that night. We told the tale for many years of the frog and the snake and two lady fishers who were spared the snake's venom that day. When I think back on my Mammaw I have only fond memories. Seems I stayed with them more than I did at my own home.
She played Candy Land with me for hours, letting her housework go. She always let me win at checkers. She taught me how to starch and iron sheets (seriously!) and cloth napkins. She drew outlines of houses in the dirt and demonstrated how she and her siblings played house when they were little girls. She sat on a blanket under her Mimosa tree in the still, hot southern afternoons with me and played Barbies or read to me or told me stories of "the olden days". But more than anything else, she showed me the love of God.
She didn't gossip, yell, scream, throw tantrums (much) or lose patience with me or the other grandkids and we all loved her more than life itself. She loved to watch her "stories", making sure all her morning housework was done before "The Secret Storm" came on in the early afternoon. And she loved watching the New York Yankees play ball.
Mammaw....everybody in the South has one. I just hope everybody's was as COOL as mine!