KING COLUMN: Memories Made with Mama

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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Growing up, some of my favorite memories happened on our front porch. After we had been to Mama’s 100-acre garden to pick what had “come in,” we usually went to the porch to shell butterbeans, break green beans, shuck and silk corn, and all that fun stuff. I would have rather gone fishing or swimming, but Mama believed in work first. I usually didn’t get a vote!

After the work was finished, sometimes we cut open a watermelon we had grown. We never canned or froze watermelons. I’m not sure that’s even possible, but ours never made it that far anyway! Sometimes I’d bring out my first guitar and play for Mama some new song I had learned. It was usually some rock song she had never heard. Mama would say, “That’s good, Son, why don’t you play Amazing Grace and we’ll sing it.” She enjoyed Flat and Scruggs much more than she did McCartney and Lennon!

After I got my first electric guitar, I usually retreated to the bedroom to play. Mama said the neighbors didn’t want to hear that. I think she may have sided with the neighbors. Mama often hollered back to me in the bedroom for me to unplug it, turn it down, or to simply put it up. Sometimes she said, “Would you please stop banging on that guitar?” That was not a request. I would ask, “Would you like to hear “I’ll Fly Away,” “Amazing Grace,” or something like that? She would answer, “Why don’t you get your other guitar and we’ll go sit on the porch?” She meant the guitar that was not electric (and not so loud). Once I played Amazing Grace for her to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.” She raised those eyebrows and said, “Son, if you’re going to play it, play it right.” So, I did.

I was almost 20-years old when I left Mama’s house. Every time I’d go home to see her, almost as soon as I got there, she would ask, “Did you bring your guitar?” Sometimes I had, and we would always sing a few old tunes. Once I played some Iron Butterfly music (In a Gadda Da Vida) for her. I thought she won’t ask anymore, but she did. Years later, I stopped playing. I had gone back to school to work on another degree, was serving a large and busy church, married and with a daughter. I didn’t think I had time anymore for guitar. One day, when I had not brought my guitar with me, Mama gave me a nice little lecture about how God had given me a gift and how I was wasting it. She said if you don’t start using it, you going to lose it. Shortly afterwards, I bought a new set of strings and minded my mama.

The old house, the front porch, and Mama are all long gone now, but what would I give to sit out there with her and play and sing one more time. I would play whatever she wanted. Why, I would even shell a few butterbeans, especially if she would cook them afterwards! I know that will never happen again, but I am so thankful that it has. I’m especially thankful that God blessed me with my mama. I think I’ll go grab my guitar now, go sit on my back porch, and sing “Precious Memories.” I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day. If you still have yours, go see her if you can. If you play or sing, do one for her. Happy Mother’s Day!