We were watching an old Dick Van Dyke Show the other night, when I just started crying. Grieving is like that. It catches you by surprise.
The character Sally was doing a song and dance at a show for inmates at a prison. She sang Cotton Fields, by Huddie Ledbetter…
When I was a little bitty baby my Mama would rock me in the cradle, in those old cotton fields back home…
It doesn’t seem like a tear-jerker. But my mama was raised in Louisiana and her daddy grew cotton. And picking that cotton was one of the last childhood memories to leave her.
Mom also told a story over and over, about how her own Mama would put the baby of the family (Mama was the third of eleven children) on a big gunny sack that was tied around her waist. And she would pull her baby along near her while she filled the sack with cotton. This was the last story I remember hearing from Mama about her childhood. The story that stuck and held firm through the decay of dementia.
Years later, when she didn’t tell the story anymore, I’d ask her if she picked cotton when she was young.
“Oh-h, YES!” she’d answer, with no doubts. Until eventually even that memory melted away.
Anyway, so there I was watching a sit-com with an upbeat song and dance, crying away. When I calmed down I called my dad to check in with him. He was doing well that night, so I told him about the song and how it made me cry, choking up again as I did.
Dad said, “Well, she hasn’t picked cotton for many, many years.” And then he added, “I’m sitting here thinking about all the things my sweetheart is enjoying in heaven, and it makes me happy.”
I don’t want to imply here that my dad isn’t having his own emotional times, because he is. But I caught him in a good hour. And his words soothed my soul.
It’s okay for those of us left behind to cry. And we will. Often. But what a precious comfort to picture the truth of heaven and the indescribable joys that Mama is relishing there.
She’s not in those old cotton fields back home. Mama is Home with Jesus.
My mother passed on Nov 30 from diabetic dementia. She had horrible unreal ideas of things happening around her. She thought we had deserted her and made her sleep in gutters, old barns, igloos, etc. It is comforting to know that now she knows we did not abandon her and these horrible nightmares did not happen. She is with my dad and all her family. She had wonderful caregivers while she was here. Now she is in the arms of the most wonderful caregiver of us all.
That sounds so difficult, Patricia. I’m sorry for all the pain she and you went through. What a comfort it is when we know they are with Jesus.
This is such a precious post! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thank you for the encouragement, Joyce!
Your mother is in good hands…in the arms of Jesus. Makes me think of my mother that passed four years ago. It was like yesterday that she was with us. I miss her every day. It got much easier to bear but reading your post makes me realize that Mom is in a good place now. No more suffering. She never picked cotton but she was the oldest of 11 living children as you can imagine there was no dull moments. Thank you for sharing your story. Makes me realize this is all part of life…at the end of it all…we will be in the arm of Jesus.
Thank you, Diane. I’m sorry about your mother, but thankful you have the peace of knowing she is with Jesus. What a comfort that is.
Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m thankful to hear this post was meaningful to you. ~Cheryl
I love this post! My Mama also grew up working in the cotton fields, of south Alabama/north Florida. And it is one of the memories that Alzheimer’s has not taken from her! She can recall how hard it was, from dragging the heavy sack full of cotton as a young child – to how her fingers would be cut & sore from the burrs – to how her siblings would sing hymns to pass the time. Continuing to lift you and your family up in prayer!
Wow, how interesting! I guess those cotton picking memories stick! Thank you for sharing and for your prayers!