2021 D: Mama in Photos
I’m back for my sixth year (2021)… can you believe it… of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and I’ve had quite a time in deciding on my “theme.” I had a few running through my head, but after losing my mother last November, I thought I’d honor her through the many photographs I have… and tell the story of the photograph… as every photo has a story.
D… Driving Miss Daisy
I’m fortunate that my mother had many photos of herself growing up… and I’m honoring her this year as the theme of my April A to Z… especially as was she was an April baby. Mama would have turned 91 this year… but she’s now back home celebrating this birthday with her parents and brother on the farm… where I believe she was always the happiest. The past few years my mother was fighting off dementia, while still managing to live alone until the last couple months of her life. I miss her every day… thinking and remembering all she did for me. She was the storyteller… She supplied me with my stories… and it’s because of her, that I write!
Miss Daisy in the backseat with her grandson Steve… I’m sure she heisted those flowers, as she never left anywhere without somehow taking a cutting of something.
Mama always made me think of the movie, “Driving Miss Daisy“… as whenever we visited I drove with her in the backseat giving order. When mama drove, she went all the long ways… to avoid the traffic lights. I usually wanted to go my way, but she never failed to say, “oh my way is better.” There was usually a madness to the way I wanted to go… taking photos or just wanting to go a different route… so it was always easier if I drove. My son drove some in the beginning, but he didn’t like hearing her from the back seat voicing her concerns of… “Stephen slow down… you’re too close to that car… watch out”! He was happy to leave the driving to me as I didn’t pay much attention and just kept going the way I wanted. If both grandchildren were with her in the back seat, she had them to amuse her, but I learned later on, that she often mimicked me from the back seat… making them laugh. As much as she always said she never liked being the center of attention… she did… especially in the car. If she became too voicerous with me, from the back seat… I’d tell her… “just hush Miss Daisy, you’re safe with me at the wheel.”
We took daily trips… somewhere… every day we went out. No way could we just stay home when we were there. We’d all get up in the morning and immediately start asking as to where were we going. When I was more into family research, there were days of dragging them all to local cemeteries where we’d walk around to look for gravestones I was searching out. My kids didn’t really mind trampling around looking at all the many stones and reading the inscriptions, but Miss Daisy always fussed. She’d say… “being older, I’ll be here myself sooner than later, so I’m not too thrilled walking around in here.” If there were any flowers around nearby for her to look at, off she’d go… often returning with a few springs of something to take home to root. She had an extremely green thumb… as I never knew of anything she couldn’t root! I remember bringing home cuttings of old country roses one year when we searched out my Civil War grandfather’s cabin site near Cane Creek in Dahlongega… she rooted them and they grew like crazy. If you’d like to read about that adventure, click HERE.
Often a day was always spent in the mountains, in the small town of Dahlonega… where my Bryan ancestors in the early 1800’s settled. She didn’t mind so much going there yearly, but she would still remind me that I’d been there plenty of times, and why did I want to go again. On every trip, we found new things to do… one year was panning for gold, which she enjoyed, but she passed on going down into the gold mine. She opted to rock in one of their rocking chairs and chat with others while Stephen and I went down. Mama can rock and chat with the best of them… she can never sit next to someone without starting up a conversation… me, I can easily sit there and rock… and be silent!
On one day trip, we rode up to Helen, a quaint alpine village in the mountains of Georgia… and being it was the same name as mama, I thought she’d enjoy… and I missed my photo “opp” of taking her photo by their sign. Miss Daisy did enjoy the village, but not the ride of going round and round the mountain to cross over to Helen. I laughed as I drove… as she was yelling from the backseat to slow down and don’t drive off the edge… like I planned to drive off the edge! We finally made it, and after she was out of the car, she was fine as there were many things to entertain her. While enjoying an ice cream, she fell in love with a teacup chihuahua, which she so wanted… and then laughed at her first sighting of a pot bellied pig… then told everyone standing there about her pet pig. As this had been one of my first trips there, and not having anything other than a gps in the car, I wasn’t quite sure which way we’d come… and in heading home when she saw the sign “Atlanta”, Miss Daisy almost had a panic attack from the back seat! Of course, Stephen and I were laughing as I tried telling her, “don’t worry, I’m turning around.” I actually had to pull over as she kept saying she was going to throw up… but she finally calmed down and after realizing I wasn’t heading into Atlanta, she settled back in her seat… amidst our laughing! Never mind that I don’t have a photo of her in the backseat… it should have been a video! Although the few times I’ve videotaped our conversations in the car… as she can get out of hand… they weren’t playable for anyone… as out of her mouth isn’t always the conversation to be heard by others!
Mama out hunting springs of flowers and plants to bring home for planting in her garden…. but what she came back with the most was “beggar lice” on the bottom on her pants!
On one day trip we stopped at Antioch Church, just outside of Sparta in Hancock County… Miss Daisy met us back at the car full with something in her hand… “I took a cutting from the rose bushes over there, they won’t mind.” Then she’s brushing off the bottom of her pants… “we used to call these things ‘beggar lice’ when I was a kid.” I looked down at my pants and they were on me too… they weren’t really ‘lice’, but tiny oblong pieces off grasses that pop up on you as you walk… they actually attach to clothing or anything that the little grabbers can attach to – they were even on my shoe laces… and very annoying, as I had to literally pull each one off… I didn’t want to bring any of them in the house! So all three of us stood there picking them off our clothes… what a sight we were… laughing and me bitching!
Antioch Church in Sparta, Georgia…. to see more photos inside… click HERE.
We continued on the back roads heading into Sparta, and while I took photos of everything that caught my eye… it was a constant from the back seat… “I think it would have been shorter if we went the other way… aren’t we there yet? When are we going to get there – I feel like I’m swaying all over back here!”
I often learned new stories that I’d never heard before when Miss Daisy was in the back seat… on our way back we went through White Plains and mama said… “see that old house burned over there, that was the Lewis house… that’s where daddy bought the oak table and chairs that you have today. It was sitting out in their front yard and he bought it for probably a few bucks. He brought it home and stripped off all the paint; it was painted several colors, but he cleaned it all up. I used it for many years until I moved back to the farm and then you married and wanted it.”
Whenever we rode around Greene County… where mama was born and raised, Miss Daisy was always the happiest in the car. As we rode down Slip Rock Road… mama said “I used to walk this road many a time… Daddy rode down this road every day with his wagon and he took this route on the way to White Plains when visiting his father after he moved there. One time, Pat the horse, ran off in the ditch… as whenever Pat reached close to home, he’d get in a fast trot, wanting to get back to the barn. He’d start running and often pulled the wagon in the ditch… daddy would get so mad and he’d be cussing at Pat as he struggled to get the wagon back on the road.” I guess I should have made Miss Daisy get out of the car and walk in the road for that “photo opp“! If only I could go back one more time with Miss Daisy… I’d take even more photos!
I called mama today as we headed home from being “in the road” as she calls it, and she asked… “So what are you doing today, I bet Steve bought more cast iron pans… if he’s ever cremated his ashes can be put in one of your cast iron pans.” I laughed and said, “we’ll give our ashes to you to hold”.”Oh No, I don’t want any ashes in my house – no way. I could never have anyone’s ashes in my house. You can take mine and put them under a white rose bush.” Note: If you’re trying to correct me it should have been said “on the road“… but you can never argue with Miss Daisy, if she says you’re in the road, well… you’re in the road!
My mother wanted to be cremated and her ashes scattered near the farm where she was the happiest and also at the graveside where her parents, brother, and my sister are buried, and her garden in Monroe… and I’m bringing some home to bury under a white rose bush in my garden.
My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:
- 2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
- 2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
- 2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
- 2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… It’s time to finally write the memories of my husbands family foods.
- 2020: A to Z Family Stories… writing the stories of my husband’s family.
For more 2001: A to Z of Mama in Photos… click HERE!
© 2021, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved