I learned a few funny stories about Mama Jo through all this, and reminisced about others. It seems that she decided to join the military, because a good friend of hers had signed up. However, Mama Jo was under age. She swiped her sister Essie's birth certificate so she could qualify. After about a year, her friend had to leave for some reason, and Mama Jo decided she didn't want to stay either. The only way she could get out was by telling them what she had done... and to her delight... they sent her home straightaway!
Delores was a young thing when she got married, a few days shy of being "legal". In the olden days, you could post your intent to marry and if nobody objected, you could get married. So marry she did, to a fine, upstanding young man, and off they went for their honeymoon in Gatlinburg. What they didn't know was that Mama Jo, Papa, and DJ took off for Gatlinburg after them. I just learned that story this week, and think it's just the funniest thing. What would she have done if she had found them? I would venture to say that Donald has earned himself some treasures in heaven for sure. To have a mother-in-law like Mama Jo, and to live right next door, required the patience of Job, at times, I'm sure. (Said with love, ya'll!) It still just tickles me to think of them traipsing across the mountains, looking for the newlyweds. Ha! Papa saying "Now... Josie!!!" every few miles....
When we were teenagers, DJ would sometimes take different friends camping up to Tugaloo State Park. Now when you're a teenage girl, there are fewer things more important than scoping out the teenage boys when you enter new territory. The park was no exception. We didn't go in for our fellow-campers, the sons of neighboring campsites. Oh no. We aimed for the big time. We loved us some trash pickup boys. Ummm Hmmm. One hot summer weekend, we happened to meet up with two fine young specimens. One named Luke, and.... well.. the other name escapes me now, but... we were mighty excited when they paid us some attention. We went out boating, skiing and swimming that afternoon, and had a *date* planned for later that evening. After dinner DJ and I went up to the bath house, with all our girly stuff in tow, and we must have spent hours getting all gussied up for our date. I had some special smell-good stuff that I used only for special occasions, and this date sure seemed to merit a spritz or two. Finally satisfied with our supreme gorgeousness, we skipped back down to the campsite to find Papa just smiling that quiet smile of his, then choking on a chuckle, eyes all a-twinkle, he busted out laughing and said "Them boys waited around long enough for ya'll and then took off." Our enchanted evning was ruined. We were devastated. We moped around for hours, straining our ears, hoping to hear their car coming down the road. Mama Jo just shook her head and said "Awwww Debbie! Them boys don't care nothin' about ya'll!" We secretly decided that Papa probably scared them off. I mean.... what's not to like about DJ and me, huh???
Another time, when we were seniors in high school, I had this boyfriend that my parents decided was no good for me. And in retrospect, they were probably right, but I wasn't convinced at the time. As such, I snuck around a bit and dated him anyway. Friday nights usually found me at DJs house, or her at mine, or BJs, or any varied combination thereof. This particular Friday night, I was at DJs, and we had dates for the evening. Mama Jo and Papa had gone camping. Uh oh. Rule #1 No Boys Allowed Without Parents At Home. And my particular boy was the one my mama and daddy had forbidden me to see. Here we have a disaster waiting to happen. Feeling very grown up after our dinner, we were sitting on the front porch at Mama Jo's, when lo and behold... from afar we beheld... CAMPERS!!! The parental units were coming home!! In plain view of the road, there was nowhere to hide, nothing to do but own up to our crime. So horrified was I that Mama Jo would tell MY mama that she had not only caught me with *the boy*, but that we had snuck and had dates without chaperones, I sold my soul and forever indebted myself to her if she PLEASE just wouldn't tell. In hindsite, I suspect she never intended to tell on me at all, but rather enjoyed the fear instilled in me at the thought of such a travesty. About this time, a certain hole had been dug in the back yard. A hole that would one day soon transform into a swimming pool... of which I expected to become a frequent guest. In my haste to secure that Mama Jo wasn't going to rat on me, I promised with all my heart to work on the landscaping project. I toted and hauled rocks for days. And days. I probably fetched more glasses of tea and "Anything you need, Mama Jo?" for weeks. I'm sure the joke was probably on me. I can just hear her and Papa laughing about it. When we visited her a few weeks ago at Emory, I reminded her of that little incident, and how she "blackmailed" me so she would keep quiet. I wish I could have heard her laugh about it just one more time.
Joyce Baker helped to take care of her when she was a resident at Mulberry, and has been very sweet to check on her and pray for her these weeks since she had to leave the facility. Yesterday she posted this photo of Mama Jo taken while she was a resident there. Thanks, Joyce.
Mama Jo, we'll miss you! We'll see you soon! Thanks for some really happy memories!