This is a typical Southern story because Miss Lorraine, a mighty fortress of thoughtfulness and compassion, is a typical Southern woman.
Miss Lorraine is the mother of Lisa, my best friend whom I met in seventh grade gymnastics class when she wooed me into undying devotion using her sense of humor and storytelling skills. I have always been drawn to people who tell a good story and see the importance in the details.
Lisa and I were typical teenage chums: movies, boy crushes, study pals, long telephone conversations (though we had spent the entire day together), sitting together at lunch (we always had fourth period together for this express purpose), and FHA (we learned to knit).
The biggest excitement of all was when our mamas would give us permission to spend the night at the other’s house. We’d carried our little overnight bags to school, ride the bus to whichever house we were going and spend the evening, after supper, doing what young girls usually do in such situations: talk about boys.
Of course, when these spend-the-nights occurred, both of our mamas rolled out the red carpet. Each would put more thought than usual into supper and breakfast. At our house, the table would be neatly set and napkins put out. Normally, we ate casually at the table or in front of a television, watching a program.
Miss Lorraine, I discovered from the beginning, is a genuinely sweet, humble woman who was always a devoted wife, mother, and excellent Southern cook. Salt of the earth. Dedicated to her church, her Goodwill Circle, her neighbors, and anyone in need. As you will see, she takes this responsibility seriously.
By great, good fortune (Note to non-Southerners: this is a phrase unique to us. We think it sounds pleasing to put “great” and “good” together) Lisa, who now lives hours away, was visiting her mama. This was wonderful for Miss Lorraine, who would need a helping hand as you’ll see, plus provide Lisa as a capable eyewitness who would then report it in an entertaining fashion.
Lisa and her husband, Dan, were in another room when they heard what every daughter doesn’t want to hear: the heavy thump of an older mother hitting the floor. They raced in to find Miss Lorraine in a heap.
Calmly, she said, “I think I might have broke something.”
Lisa was frantic. Dan was calm. They tried to assist her but realized quickly that she couldn’t get up and that it would be unwise to try to lift her.
“Mama, we have to call 911,” Lisa said urgently.
Miss Lorraine resisted at first, thinking – and you may have been there with this kind of thinking with your mama – that she just needed to catch her breath and give herself a moment then she’d be fine.
Several minutes of this debate went on. Finally, Miss Lorraine relented.
“Give me the phone,” her mama commanded firmly.
“I can call 911,” Lisa insisted authoritatively, picking up the phone.
“GIVE. ME. THE. PHONE.”
When a mama uses that voice even the mightiest of daughters submit. Lisa handed it to her and watched as her mama pressed more numbers than necessary to call 911.
“Hello, Laura?” Miss Lorraine asked, resting her head back on the den floor. She giggled a bit. Y’all all know that kind of mama giggle. “I’ve had a little fall. I’m fine but I won’t be able to help serve the food. But I’ve got it all ready so if someone could come by and get it, that would be wonderful.”
There she was, broken hip and bruises, but her first call was to the Goodwill Circle president to tell her that she would not be able to help serve supper at the funeral home that night.
God bless Southern women like Miss Lorraine.
And all the casseroles they make.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Saturdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.