“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Thomas Campbell
My heart is heavy laden with sadness as I write these words today. One of my favorite people was laid to rest in her eternal home earlier today. I couldn’t be with my family to celebrate her life because distance and a global pandemic separates us. My maternal grandmother’s niece, my cousin Mary was very affectionately known as simply Mae Mae. Mae Mae journeyed through this life for a very blessed eighty years before she transitioned to her eternal home on Friday June 19, 2020. I was very heartbroken when I heard that Mae Mae’s time on this side of life had ended and in the days thereafter I began to think about her life and what she meant to me. I decided to celebrate Mae Mae and what she’ll always mean to me by writing a bit about our special relationship.
The first time I have any memory of Mae Mae coming into my life was in the early 1990s when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was 1991, if my memory serves me correctly, when Mae Mae and several other family members came to my family’s hometown to attend a family reunion. I can remember instantly just taking a liking to Mae Mae, I guess it was because even as a child I could tell that there was something extraordinary about Mae Mae. I immediately felt like she loved me. During the weekend of that family reunion I stuck with Mae Mae at all of the reunion events. After that weekend, Mae Mae started calling me “her girl”. I can’t explain to you just how much that always meant to me, even if she had other relatives and friends who she called that, it still meant that I was special to her. Once the family reunion weekend was over, I don’t remember keeping in touch with Mae Mae much, I guess that’s because I was busy growing up, but she would always ask about me whenever she spoke with my grandmother.
Over the years, whenever Mae Mae, her daughters and family came to visit or my family and I traveled to Gary, Indiana to visit Mae Mae and her family, just as I did as a little girl I always stuck right beside Mae Mae. As I came into my adult years I feel like the bond that Mae Mae and I shared grew even closer/stronger. In recent years Mae Mae and I had numerous phone conversations that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my time on this side of life. I don’t know anyone who loved and cherished family quite as much as Mae Mae did, family literally meant the world to Mae Mae. If ever there was something that I wanted to know about our family she always had the answer for me and sometimes the answer went far beyond what I was asking, because family was her favorite topic during all of our conversations. It always seemed as though Mae Mae made an effort to keep in touch with just about everyone in the family. During many of our phone conversations she would update me on what was going on in the lives of several family members, some of the relatives she would tell me about I still have yet to meet. Her family updates always meant a lot to me, because like Mae Mae family is very important to me.
It probably doesn’t make any sense, but sometimes I felt like I could hear the smile in her voice when she would discuss her family. She always spoke as though it brightened her day to speak about her family. Mae Mae and I never had a conversation without her mentioning something about her daughters. She always seemed so proud to be their mother. She spoke in a way that would lead one to believe that her sons in law were more like her sons. On all of our phone conversations Mae Mae was always a doting grandmother, she was always bragging about her awesome grandchildren. She was very proud of the young adults that her grandchildren have become. Family truly meant everything to Mae Mae.
As I sit in my quiet place writing these words about one of my most favorite people, Mae Mae, I can hear her infectious laugh and a twinge of sadness hit me because I realized how long it’s been since I’ve gotten to visit with Mae Mae. In the last year or so I’ll admit I have done an awful job of keeping in touch with Mae Mae and at this moment I’m feeling some regret. I’m feeling some regret because I haven’t picked up the phone to call Mae Mae in a while and now I can’t. It’s dawned on me that distance in miles is no longer what separates Mae Mae and I, honestly that realization stings my heart more than I could fathom. Although I failed at keeping in touch as I should’ve, Mae Mae has never left her very special place in my heart and she never will.
Rest well Mae Mae, my girl 💜