Mammie

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A year or so ago, I got a friend request on Facebook from Wanda June Cunningham. I remember sitting there thinking, who in the world is Wanda June? Then it hit me, that’s Mammie! Mammie is on Facebook.

You see Wanda June might have been her given name, but Wanda June is not what we all called her.

That’s because Wanda June met Bobby Wayne, and they got married and had two kids, Ricky and Regina.

Then Ricky married Celisa, and Regina married David, and then something happened that would change June’s identity forever, Ricky and Celisa had a little girl. This little girl, my sister Kiki was the first of four grandkids, Michael to follow, then me, and lastly Kelsey. 

It was Kiki, the first grandkid, who changed June’s identity forever, because instead of calling her June or Wanda, or grandma or grandmother, this little girl just called her Mammie. And from then on Michael, Kelsey, and myself called her the same, for that’s who she was.

But the truth is, she was not just Mammie to us, she was Mammie to almost everyone else who knew her. I think it was her generous heart and contagious personality that made Mammie the only name suitable for her. 

Now even though Kiki gave Mammie her name, there is still ongoing debate about which one of us was actually her favorite.  Of course Kiki will tell you it was her because she  was the first, but then Kelsey wanted me to inform everyone she was the favorite because she was the last, the baby. 

Mike, however could make his case that he was her favorite, after all he has such a great singing voice, or at least Mammie believed he did. But them of course, as the one speaking today, I will just come out and say it, I was clearly Mammie’s favorite.

But then there is Jen, Katie, and Tyler who might also offer up their own reasons for why Mammie actually loved them the most, because Mammie didn’t see them as in-laws, but grandkids.

The truth is, we all truly believed we were Mammie’s favorite, because that how Mammie was, she always made you feel like you were her favorite. Like you were the best. If there is one thing all of us grandkids know for certain, it is that we always had someone loving and supporting us, and her name was Mammie. 

And with her life she taught us six valuable lessons:

  1. Mammie’s home taught us how to love one another.
  2. Mammie’s work taught us how to enjoy our labors.
  3. Mammie’s table taught us how to love people.
  4. Mammie’s play taught us how to enjoy life.
  5. Mammie’s church taught us how to love Jesus.
  6. Mammie’s smile taught us how to leave a legacy.

Me and Kiki were talking last night about how we would always get jealous when other people called our Mammie, “Mammie”. After all, she was our Mammie, not theirs.

But the truth is, Wanda or June just doesn’t fit, because she is more than a Wanda and more than a June, she is a Mammie, not just to us, but to everyone.

So we all just called her Mammie, because that’s who she was, that’s who she will always be, and that’s who we are going to miss so very much.

So Mammie, even though you loved us first, as Kelsey likes to say, “We love you more.”

[I spoke these words in 2014 at my grandmothers memorial service]