I believe that no matter how old we are, we never quit wanting our mamas in times of trouble, even when they are no longer with us in life.
During the first few weeks after my mama came out from under the anesthesia of her heart surgery, she would wake from a deep sleep calling for her mama. It didn’t seem to register to her that her mother had been dead for at least 25 years. She also didn’t seem to notice that her own children were surrounding her waiting for recognition, wanting our mama to come back to us.
We were looking for the same mama who had driven herself from Alabama to North Carolina just a few weeks earlier to visit friends. The long 7-hour drive was just a drop in the bucket considering the trips she had made across the country during her 77 years, sometimes alone, sometimes with two or more children in tow, sometimes with our daddy and even earlier with her own family as a young child.
“Mama,” she softly mumbled at first. Then her calls would grow louder and more demanding, like a petulant 2-year-old. “MAMA!” Filled with fear and uncertainty, I just tried to calm her and let her know she was not alone.
I remembered waking up one morning between Christmas and New Year’s Day in a strange place 23 years earlier. A nurse told me I was in the hospital in Tuscaloosa, Al. I had been in a bad car wreck and had been unconscious for several hours. I quickly became aware of a piercing pain in my back that ran all the way around to my abdomen down the right side. She said they still didn’t know what my injuries were or what was causing the pain.
“I want my mama,” I cried. That’s all I could think of. “Your mama is not here,” the nurse said curtly, obviously disgusted that an almost 30-year-old woman would be crying for her mother.
My parents were unreachable, traveling in South Florida. But my sister was desperately trying to find them, including enlisting the help of the highway patrol. The doctor, watching my vital signs go haywire, decided to do exploratory surgery to find and stop the internal bleeding, which turned out to be a lacerated liver.
When I woke up from the surgery, drowsy and aching more now from the fresh incision down my torso, Mama was standing beside my bed. I could see Daddy standing right behind her peering around to let me know he was there, too. The dam burst and I let loose, freely bawling – my mama was here. I would be OK.
I wondered at the time if we ever really grow out of needing or wanting our mamas.
From the sounds of my own mother, who had been the icon of strength for me, and now laying on the hospital bed crying out for her mama, it didn’t look like it.
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