“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Romans 12:10”
As I’ve mentioned before, MaeMae loved an ugly little donkey. She looked into a field of pretty ponies that we passed on our way to or from wherever we were going and she loved the ugly little donkey the most. Why? because in her mind, the ugly little donkey didn’t know he was ugly. She imagined that he looked at the others, those pretty ponies, and thought he was as pretty as them. She thought he was so cute, that ugly little donkey. She saw the beauty in him.
That was MaeMae’s attitude about life. She saw beauty in things that others might not find so beautiful. She didn’t dwell on what she didn’t have. She reveled in what she did. She was content in her life. She didn’t want for more or seek to follow the “Joneses.” Instead, she took what she had and she made it even more beautiful. And she shared it with others.
She did this because it was in her nature to do it. She also did it because she knew it was what God called her to do. Proverbs 31:25 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” MaeMae loved other people. She especially loved doing thoughtful things for those who were sick or not able to leave their houses. Some people shy away from visiting people in those situations, but not MaeMae. She enjoyed it. Thrived on it. In some cases, she came up with things that would make the sick person laugh – like the giant pair of panties she sent to a young mother starting a fight against cancer. The message? Put on your big girl panties and fight.
MaeMae loved us all so fiercely. And she was fierce. It’s the reason we still won’t put drinks down in her house without a coaster underneath. Bud was the gentle one. She was the heavy and she would land with all her 5’4″ might on any one of us who stepped out of line. She pulled no punches when she thought we were doing wrong. And she returned us to the straight and narrow, to the path that God would have for us. When life knocked us down, she used all that same strength to hold us up until we could stand on our own again. When I had to tell her and Bud I needed to leave my husband, I was so ashamed and so afraid of disappointing them. Instead they both wrapped me in their love and gave me everything I needed – shelter, food, and money – until all was right again. When my sister-in-law died, they did the same thing for my brother, David. She was our strength when we had no strength. Our fortress when life’s storms blew through our lives. Our peace when there was no peace.
She also loved to laugh. She loved to see the funny things her children or grandchildren did. Those times when our kids were so tired at meal times that they face planted into their food. Or when David, Steve, and I threw food in each others’ drinks at meal times. She loved watching a fat squirrel climb onto her bird feeder only to be spun around and around, finally sent flying off into the bushes.
She was bossy and sassy, all the way to her last moments. In her younger years, she used this spunk to haul teenaged boys around the living room by their hair when they picked on her long enough. This same spunk allowed her to fight cancer with the determination she did. She said, “I. Will. Not. Let. This. Beat. Me.” While ultimately she lost her battle with cancer, the fact is that she won the war. Cancer couldn’t take away that which she held most dear – her family, her friends, her flowers, her sense of humor, or her spirit. It couldn’t take away her faith that there is a place much more wonderful than here, a place beyond our imagining. A place that she, as a Christian, knew she would go. She died on the morning of December 24th. She died as she lived; without fear, but with full faith that the moment she left here, she would see God’s face.
MaeMae knew to whom she belonged. She was a child of God. And she is with Him now.
Mary Alexina Emrie Padgett, June 7, 1934-December 24, 2021