Don't we all have people in our lives who we think are always going to be there? They are part of your fabric, your day-to-day life features that settle you in and make you stable. Maybe it's your Mulla - your grandmother. My Mulla was here until she was ninety-seven. She made me homemade pancakes when I asked for them, and scrubbed my back in her claw foot tub. She taught me how to string beans and made yeast rolls on Sunday. I thought none of that would end. Or maybe your forever person is that hairdresser who you had from childhood onward, who treated you like she treated her own grandchildren - with sass and wisdom. She told you when that boy was no good, and told you not to come get your hair done during your ladies’ time because your pores were too open and you were liken' to get sick. My hairdresser was Miss Poronica Snap. She was a formidable black woman. And even though I knew better, I didn't dare schedule my appointment during that time, for fear that Miss Snap would somehow know and smack me upside my head like I saw her do her grandson once.
Yes, there are people, especially older people, who are part of our fabric who make us feel stronger even when they don't know it, ‘cause they are just being themselves. Maybe you, like me, have a sweet little gentleman at church who just sets your day right by his presence, by his sweet smile and kind disposition. One such church brother for me was Mr. Paul Carlton. Maybe you knew him. Paul worked insurance in the Shoals for over 40 years. He encouraged everyone by looking them in the eyes, sharing a sweet smile and peace, and asking questions and then listening to the answer. Paul never complained about his status. Even when he was ill or tired, he came pushing his walker asking how your day was going. Paul was one of those people that I just always expected to see. He was so positive. He was positive that his mama loved him and that God cared about him.
I know this to be true because I heard Paul say so. Once when we were having a multi- generational gathering at McFarland Park, Paul shared his life story with our congregation. He had a good, varied life, but one point that Paul made happened while he was in the U.S. Air Force serving in a foreign land. Paul said with his head hung that his behavior while he was overseas was not all good. He said that he was headed down the wrong road while he was over there, but somehow he got sent stateside to serve in the Reserves. He said that what he didn't know at the time, was that his mother had been home praying - praying that he would remain a child of God. Paul was sure that his mother's prayers saved him. He told us, that day, not to discount the power of a mother's prayer for her children. He said, “When her children stray, a godly mother keeps on praying.”
Paul will never know that I carry his words in my heart. He strengthened me as a mother that day a few years ago. And that wasn't the first time. Paul is a part of my stability: A now-missed part of my fabric. We weren't day-to-day friends, but I never thought about being without him. For 40 years he was one of my people. We take for granted those who we think will be here forever. Recognize those surrounding, steady people in your life and be thankful for them. Cherish the time.
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