Mrs. Marie Lewis: My Mama

Mrs. Marie Lewis: My Mama

by Rev. Theresa Nance

There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think about my mother. Her name was Marie Lewis and her skills for getting through the day-to-day minefields of life were admirable. I have written about my mother in this column for many years for Mother’s Day and there is still more to write.

May is the month designated as Mother’s Day. There are women who have babies and then there are mothers. Mine, thank God, was the latter. Perfect, she wasn’t. Committed she was.

She would say repeatedly, “I don’t care what you think you look like, you’re either going to school or you’re going to work.” End of story. I was a pretty cute kid but mother understood that the outward appearance fades and you must be able to get through life using your brain, not just your pancake makeup. Shout out to a wise mom!

Her mantra for a racist world was this, “You might have to give 90 percent. The other guy/gal might have to give 50 percent. If that’s how the odds are stacked against you…so what!”

During the last four or five years of her life, she was plagued with dementia, a most insidious disease. So, the woman I had known to be a fabulous dresser (size 12 to the very end) had to be treated like a child to prevent her from putting on a wool dress in the heat of summer. I bathed her, rubbed her feet with baby oil before she went to bed, and grabbed her hand when we crossed the street because the roles had reversed and I became Mama. As painful as it was to watch her grapple with her memory loss, we probably became closer during that period of her life than at any other time.

You see, she was so gosh-darn independent and so was I. We both led our lives not necessarily separately but not always together either. It was now I who bought her a Dairy Queen ice cream cone after an afternoon ride and made sure she had on the proper undergarments when incontinence engulfed her body.

It was my reasonable service. I gladly did this for a woman who stood on her feet 6 days a week in a factory to help my father buy a home that gave me my own bedroom. This was the woman who allowed me to get behind the wheel of her car when I was a teenager and coming out the driveway, I hit a parked car. She said, “Move over.” And, when the police came she told them she was behind the wheel.

She had impeccable taste, immeasurable courage and an immaculate home. My mother, Mrs. Marie Lewis. Birthplace: Saluda, South Carolina. Spiritual background: Christian. Name most often called: Mama.