We recently took a road trip to the humble Eastern Shore town of Salisbury, Maryland to visit my Mawmaw (aka Mamére, aka Rita, aka Riter, aka Ritz). She is my mother’s mother, and she is powdery soft and smells of Borghese. I could eat her lemon bundt cakes in one sitting.
As Simon becomes more active, road trips become more difficult: he tolerates the car seat but isn’t shy about screaming, “¡Bastante!” (Granted, this sounds more like, “MWHARRRRYEEEARGH!” and is accompanied by flailing limbs and flying rubber animals.) I’m learning to treat these stops as a valid excuse for an iced latte–and trekking across state lines is wholly worth it when you have gumbo and a new chapter of the family narrative waiting for you.
Simon is, of course, far too young to appreciate Mawmaw’s family stories, but I treasure these visits with her and know how important it is for our child to spend time with our loved ones and hear the cadence of their voices. I learn something new every time, and one day I’ll be able to share it all with him. I’ll tell him that Mawmaw didn’t speak English until she was six years old, and that her Cajun French sounds like a game of hopscotch played on piano keys. I’ll tell him that her father was an oyster farmer, and that her mother sold homemade oyster po’boys for 50 cents during the Depression. I’ll tell him that Mawmaw, Pawpaw, and their four young children shared a two-bedroom/one bath house in Gentilly and grew banana trees dense as a tropical forest in their backyard. I’ll tell him that Mawmaw was called to the local grammar school several times a week to calm down my feisty Aunt Phyllis (“Oooooh, that Paula Galliosa! Always picking a fight!”).
I’ll tell him that she loved him–so much–and that he fell asleep in her arms to the sound of her soft humming and the gentle creak of a rocking chair.