Mammaw (my grandmother Lola) was born 111 years ago today. She lived to the age of 92 and made the best of every single day. When I was a child, she was my rock, my safety and consistency. Sometimes, when I wrap my arms around myself to ward off a chill, it's Mammaw's soft girth that I feel beneath my fingertips. And more and more often these days, it's her face I glimpse when I look in the mirror.
If positive outlooks could be measured, Mammaw's would have been off the scale on the high side. She saw the good in everyone she met, and her joy in being in their presence showed in her face. I know how hard she worked to keep house for a family that included four generations, but even as I remember her cooking or hanging laundry on the line, I see her smiling, her face serene and worry-free.
This photo was taken when my grandparents visited relatives on the East Coast in June 1954:
If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see Mammaw's unbridled joy at wading in the ocean, probably for the first time ever.
Approximately a year later, sometime in 1955, the broadway musical Damn Yankees introduced new song lyrics to America: "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets." Teased about the song, Mammaw smiled and replied, "It's true. I do get whatever I want -- but I always know exactly how much I can want."
Mammaw may not have been rich in the way of worldly goods, but in choosing to be happy with whatever life served up to her, she had the world by the tail. And she offered it to all of us who loved her.