The huge Family Bible was always on my Mamaws coffee table, stuffed with obituaries and newspaper clippings. I can remember thumbing through the pictures and she would say, “Neicy, you can look through it, but don’t lose Mamaws important papers” – I don’t remember reading the clippings, just carefully maneuvering enough to look at the pictures in that big book. I always wondered if Jesus looked like the man on the front. I still do? The photographs always looked more like paintings and they were always “old-looking people, except for the manger scene, and quite honestly? a lot of them looked mad or scared, well, except for the fluffy sheep with the Shepherd. Maybe you remember them? for a kid, the Bible has come a long way in graphics and color. Today, I took another glance at some of the photos and the memories just started flowing. Not only the memories of the book, but the back story that I would only learn later in my teenage years.
I remember my Mamaw looking at the daily newspaper when it came. She thumbed through catalogs that came in the mail. She and my Momma would talk about events and what was in the sale papers that week. It would seem that they were always chatting away with their tea and coffee at that kitchen table. I also would notice that when it came time to sign anything important.. Momma would put her finger in the place and Mamaw would just make an “x”. Her mark as she called it.
It would be years later than I started to put the pieces together about those moments at the table.
My mother read to us all the time, Mamaw just told us stories … and lots of stories. Some of them were funny, some scary but mostly it was what she did before I fell asleep. I spent the night with her every single chance I had. She was a wonderful Mamaw that enjoyed my company as much as I did hers. I never noticed when I asked her to read a storybook, she would say.. that reminds me of a story and she would put the book to the side and start telling it with such suspense, I would be totally interested.
The days came that I spent less time spending the night and more time just popping in and out for visits. I stayed busy with school and friends. I don’t recall the moment I realized this truth.
My Mamaw had never, ever in her entire life learned to read and write.
How in the world did she function? I am still amazed when I think of it. Yet, she did, and I don’t think we ever discussed it. I would learn later that she was ashamed. How I wish I could go back, maybe she had lived into my adult years.. I would have attempted to teach her, just so she could have had that opportunity.
She had determination to thrive on what knowledge she had.
I guess when you are a child, you don’t notice people’s limitations? You just know things got done.
Moving forward to the “thriving” on what you know. I can’t say that I was “raised” in church with my parents. I wasn’t. Yet, I rode the sunday school bus or caught a ride with my Aunt Reanie. I have fond memories of her lifesavers during church, and putting the pennies in the little church shaped offering bank. I can still recall the sound of them going in the slot. I would be nearly ten years old when my parents joined church. It was a new thing for us to go together. From the earliest times, I knew Bible stories, some scripture like John 3:16. What I would come to realize, is that my Momma did not.
Once again, I would come to know the limitations, and the obstacles that she would overcome.
I began reading between the lines.
I can see her sitting at the kitchen table. I called to her to let her know that her favorite singer was on.. 1977 Elvis special. No reply. I walked into the kitchen and said “Momma? are you not going to watch Elvis on tv?” Looking back, this was a defining moment with my Momma as clear as the one with my sweet Mamaw who never read a word in her life. She told me she wasn’t going to watch the show, but needed to study and read.
“Whaaaaat?” No Elvis??? She must really, really be reading something interesting!!! My Momma LOVED her some Elvis!
What I saw on the kitchen table was not the huge family Bible like my Mamaws.. but this.
I didn’t understand why she had our kids Bible. Remember, kids do not realize limitations.
Just like my Mamaw… she had a secret. Humbling was not even a big enough word for me that evening.
She would go on to explain that she wanted to read the big Bible.. but it was too confusing. She wanted to start from scratch.. learn the stories so she would know what it was talking about. She said she was excited to learn everything she could.
She was 30 years old, and didn’t know as many stories in the Bible as her children. I say this not to bring any kind of negative to my Momma.. but she knew it was important enough for her to overcome her limitations of what she didn’t know.
It would become a part of her testimony the remainder of her short 58 years on this earth. The same as my Mamaw’s lessons in being blessed with knowledge, even though you had to take a different route to get there. If it is important… you make the committment to learn and you trusted God to help you get there.
Reading between the lines.
My heritage. In the midst of two very brave ladies.
I read, and often… but I never look at written words the same without the memory of my Momma sitting at the kitchen table reading that children’s Bible, oh how she grew to love the written Word of God… I seldom sign my name without thinking of the “mark” Mamaw made on my life and her love for the Savior’s Words even though she couldn’t read them for herself.
I hope you never miss the opportunity to “read between the lines” with the people you encounter on this journey. Tell your stories, share your testimonies… It may be years before they have an effect on those around you.
We all have limitations… and that’s perfectly okay, but we don’t have to let them define us, or prevent us from learning -whether it be from books, or people.
And for today, I can’t seem to stop giggling… thinking of how much Momma and Mamaw would have surely enjoyed this Coloring Page Bible.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.