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Mama (standard:drama, 3519 words)
Author: Maureen StirsmanAdded: Oct 09 2002Views/Reads: 4756/2507Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
It was a time when life was hard and money even harder to come by. Mama gave her family a dream that they never forgot.



They said mama was ‘a little off'.  I overheard Aunt Jennie saying it to
Aunt Mamie when Mama was in the hospital getting Woodhue.  I was only 
four years old and I thought mama was off from Barstow, New York where 
we lived.  She was off—from our house on Maple Street, our house second 
from the end on the dirt road.  Our house was a two story Cape Cod 
painted light blue, like the sky on a summer day. Mama said.  The 
yellow shutters were like the sunshine, Mama said. 

“Yes, she is naming him Woodhue.  Can you believe such a name for a new
baby?”  Aunt Jennie said pouring strong black coffee into Mama's 
flowered yellow cups. 

“Two sons named Daniel was bad, then Claire, that's a decent enough name
for a girl, but now this.”  Aunt Mamie stirred sugar into her cup and 
sighed.  Claire, that's me.  Mama said she would name me Claire, boy or 
girl, and Claire I am.  But she always called me other names, sometimes 
I didn't like them, mostly I just didn't care.  I should probably tell 
you why I had two brothers named Daniel.  Daniel was grandaddy's name, 
Mama's daddy.  So my oldest brother was Daniel.  Grandaddy always 
called him by his full name and Mama, ‘a little off' or not, never went 
against him.  But she always wanted to call him Danny.  By the time my 
next brother was born, two years later, Granddaddy had drowned in a 
canoeing accident.  They dragged the river for a week but he never came 
up.  Mama cried for seven days, then one morning she got out of bed and 
was scrambling eggs in the big black cast iron skillet when daddy came 
down stairs. 

“Honey, are you okay?” he kissed the back of her neck.  She just smiled
and poured a cup of coffee and went back to the eggs.  She never cried 
again, at least about Granddaddy. 

When Danny was born, she named him Daniel and we always called him
Danny.  Danny and Daniel were both what Aunt Jennie called, 
‘tow-heads', blonde as fresh cream.   Their hair was straight as a 
yardstick and Daddy shaved their heads every summer on the day school 
was out.  I was a ‘tow-head' too, but my hair was as curly as Shirley 
Temple's, who by the way was my hero.  On rainy days I hated it.  
Sometimes I couldn't get a comb through my hair but Mama always brushed 
it every night.  She was fanatic about that.  Daddy's hair was yellow 
like ours.  That was the ‘Norseman' in him.  That's what Mama said.  
But I didn't understand that at all.  We never had a horse. 

I was four years old when Woodhue was born.  “Carrie will help me with
the baby.  She is a big strong girl.”  That summer Mama called me 
Carrie.  She had such a thing about names.  Even Daddy said, “Emaline, 
what on earth kind of a name is that to lay on a baby?”  But Daddy 
never said ‘no' to her and when she brought him home we had Woodhue's 
crib ready. She would not allow us to call him Woody—not ever.  It was 
always Woodhue. Aunt Mamie said it was strange, to not give him a 
nickname after the way she called my second brother Daniel, Danny.  
That was when she said, “Emaline has always been a little off.” 

Mama was as fair skinned as the rest of us but her hair was as black as
Daddy's Sunday shoes and just as shiny.  Mama was lax about many 
things, but not about hair.  Her hair was her pride.  She wore it in a 
long braid down her back.  Twice I saw it twisted up on her head.  Once 
when Mrs. Elcart, the pastor's wife, died and the other time when she 
went to the hospital when Aunt Mamie was very ill.   Every night Mama 
sat at her dresser and brushed 100 strokes.  Her hair came to her waist 
when it was down.  She washed it every Saturday morning with rainwater 
from the wooden barrel at the corner of the house.  She said it made it 
soft.  Sometimes in the morning she would come to the kitchen with a 
ribbon holding it back.  That is when I loved her the best, seeing her 
in the kitchen with her long black hair hanging down her back over her 
blue kimono.  She always smiled then.  Sometimes we would hear her 
singing ‘You are my Sunshine' or if she was in the mood, ‘On the Wings 
of a Snow White Dove.'  That was my favorite and I would stand in the 
doorway listening, not wanting to break the spell. Mama did not care if 
we used a napkin or the right fork, or even if we reached across the 
table.  But if we didn't say, ‘yes, please' or ‘no, thank you' we got 
the evil eye.  None of us liked Mama's evil eye.  It could cut you down 

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