For as long as I can remember (and that's probably better than 50 years now!), almost every time I'd see Geraldine McCurry, she would tell the story of how she met my mother in Kendrick's Jewelry in late June 1957, and my mother was already overdue to deliver me. "MawMac," as I came to call her, said she told my mother, "You've waited this long... just wait and have her on my birthday... and she did!" Of course, there was great detail to the story that I won't share here, but suffice it to say, this began a long-standing tradition of sharing birthday cake, cards, phone calls and more every July 4th for 54 years. I made her a card this year for her 93rd birthday that said, "You're the Queen of Birthdays"... and in my book, she really was.
MawMac died last night, two days after the death of her youngest daughter, Mary. We were not surprised by either death, but you are never quite ready. Mary was born with cerebral palsy, and she truly was a brilliant girl trapped in a crippled body. Mary would have been 60 in October. To the credit of her family, she was always treated the same as any other child, save her physical limitations. In the era in which we grew up, children with CP and other disabilities were often sent to live in facilities where people felt they could receive better care from trained professionals. The McCurrys had none of that! It helped that Mr. McCurry owned the local Chevrolet dealership and they were able to afford live-in help to assist them, but I have a feeling that they would have figured out a way to care for Mary on their own anyway.
|Photo of Paul Logan's 2nd birthday party in 1957.|
Mary McCurry, Paul's neighbor, is on far right.
Thanks to Paul for sharing this photo on Facebook recently.
When Mary's caregiver became unable to work any longer, and MawMac reached an age where she could no longer manage, the family agreed for Mary to move to Conway to the Human Development Center. But MawMac didn't just leave her there. She trekked to Conway frequently... and she told me she always took Mary a beloved hamburger from her favorite fast food joint when she visited. More than once later in life, MawMac suffered debilitating accidents that would have been the end of most women her age. But she would say, "I have to get well, so that I can drive again and go see about Mary!"
Every year when I was a child, I would exchange birthday cake with MawMac. At that time, her mother, Granny Monroe, made her cakes. Granny Monroe always inserted a dime and a button in the batter. The story was that whoever got the dime would marry a rich man, and whoever got the button would remain an old maid! I've had both!
As the years came and went, MawMac began to shrink. In medical terms, she had osteoporosis. But when I would see her, she would say, "You know, I'm shrinking!" I remember seeing her one day in Wal-Mart, and she needed an item from one of the shelves, but she had no way of reaching it... and I'm not talking the top shelf! Gladly, I retrieved the item for her... I wish now I could remember what it was, because it was something that most cooks don't even have in their kitchen today - but she still used it!
Andrea, MawMac's oldest daughter, likes to tell how they would come home from school in the afternoons, and MawMac would be doing her household chores - in a dress, nice jewelry and high heels. In fact, until just a few years ago, you never saw MawMac without her heels. I wouldn't say they were still all that high, but she was always nicely dressed and considered it poor taste to go out in public otherwise.
A few years ago, my church's Praise Band was asked to perform for the Rotary Club Christmas party. We were told to bring our spouses, but Greg had something else to do that evening. So I phoned MawMac and asked, "Would you like to be my date?" She was thrilled. Her husband, Andrew, had been a Rotarian, and it brought back so many happy memories for her to attend this dinner. When I picked her up, she looked darling - all dressed up and wearing her mink coat! She looked like a little doll... and we had such a good time together.
In recent months, MawMac moved to Southridge Assisted Living Facility, where my grandmother now resides. In fact, they shared a table for meals with two other ladies who have been part of my life forever... Mrs. Evelyn Alexander and Mrs. Ruth Garner. I visited MawMac frequently, and just before our birthdays, I went to see her and we swapped stories of the "old days" in Heber Springs.
She showed me the blouse that Andrea had made her for their July 4th festivities... a darling little number in golden beige polyester with red/white/blue stars, and buttons in red, white and blue that looked like it would fit a small child. She had white pants and red/white/blue shoes to match... and a red/white/blue headband with shooting stars to boot! She never lost her zest for birthdays and celebrations, and while she had been quite ill and lethargic for some time, she rallied to attend more than one party that holiday weekend.
I loved MawMac's dedication... to Andrew, her daughters - especially Mary - to her community, and to her church. I will never forget her standing up at the 50th annual Little Miss Cleburne County contest in Spring Park and telling the emcee, "I've never missed a one!" I don't think she missed many church services, PTA meetings, weddings or funerals, either. You could always count on MawMac for support... in everything. Someone recalled on Facebook yesterday the Sunday that MawMac wheeled Mary to the front of the church to profess her faith in Jesus. She recalled that "Mrs. McCurry said, 'I just couldn't hold her back any longer, she just insisted that I roll her down here. Mary spoke with her eyes, and said she wanted to be saved. It was so moving!!!'"